The California Board of Aldermen has opted to take a measured approach as coronavirus-related restrictions slowly begin to lighten across the state.
Much of the City Council's decisions surrounding returning to business as usual hinged on the statewide public health order moving forward to its second phase as planned on June 15. Gov. Mike Parson extended the first phase last week.
"We need to follow some guidelines and still be cautious as to what's going on," mayor Norris Gerhart said of the Council's decisions regarding a return to normalcy. "We don't need to assist this thing."
Since its last meeting, the city has elected to allow limited access to City Hall, and a handful of decisions from Monday's meeting will continue to lessen restrictions in some way. The public meeting room in City Hall, for example, will reopen, with group size limited to 20 people. Shelters at Proctor Park will also be available for use again June 15, provided the statewide order moves to its second phase this month.
The City Council has also set June 15 as a tentative date for the city pool to reopen, following stringent guidelines set by California Parks and Rec Director Leslie Scheidt. This will allow Parks and Rec to still offer non-contact swim lessons, for example.
Parks and Rec has also moved forward with a baseball, softball and T-ball season, with registration already complete. The bleachers have been taken out at the city's ballfields to encourage social distancing, and the goal is to finish the season by July 31.
The city is set to begin enforcing utility shutoffs if customers don't pay their June bill. For customers with an unpaid balance across March, April and May, a 6-month payment plan will be made available. City Clerk Aimee Hill said those with an unpaid balance will receive communication via mail soon to notify them of this.
The City Council also decided to move toward the summer months with some decisions made as if upcoming community events will be taking place as planned. The city plans to host its annual fireworks show at this time, encouraging social distancing for any attendees, and ordinances were approved closing streets for the parade routes for the 4th of July, Moniteau County Fair and Ozark Ham and Turkey Festival parades.
Gerhart said this approval is all simply anticipatory — if the events can't happen as planned due to the pandemic, the City Council will react accordingly.
The City Council's next regular meeting will take place at 7 p.m. July 6.