Thursday, July 16, 2020

Council returns to city hall for meetings

It was a homecoming, of sorts, for the members of the Romulus City Council this week when they attended a meeting in the council chambers at Romulus City Hall.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, council members have been attending virtual Zoom meetings for several months but planned to be back in chambers this week.
Mayor LeRoy Burcroff explained that the city administration had determined the safety of moving back to the chambers for meetings and that the city would be abiding by all the current safety protocols.

He responded to an inquiry from Council member Virginia Williams during the July 7 Zoom meeting who asked when the council could return to meetings in city hall.
“These meetings are not productive,” she said of the virtual meetings. “There is too much interruption.”
She suggested that an upcoming study session would not be as effective over the phone as the council members could not actually interact with the petitioners coming before them with a request.
Her opinion was seconded by Councilman William Wadsworth who said, “I have the same feelings. These meetings are not as productive. Are we not going back into chambers until the governor says we can?”
Burcroff said that the administration had been planning to return to chambers for meetings and plans were in place for that to take place last Monday, with all necessary safety precautions in place.
“Will people be required to wear masks,” Wadsworth asked. “I am in favor of masks but will our policy be if no mask then they can't come in or we ask them to leave?”
Burcroff said that masks would be available for those who did not have them and that the city would adhere to the 6-foot social distance requirement and the number of people allowed in the council chambers.
“If they refuse to wear a mask, will they have to leave the building,” Wadsworth again asked.
Burcroff reiterated that all safety precautions would be enforced. He noted, too, that if an individual or a council member was uncomfortable with the return to chambers for meeting, they could continue to attend by phone.
City attorney Steve Hitchcock agreed that as long as the city had a quorum in chambers others could still attend and vote remotely.
“Like so many, I am frustrated with the technology,” Burcroff said. “I am looking forward to it. There are others who want to do business with us who are holding off because they are frustrated as well.”
The next meeting of the council in chambers, a study session, is set for 7 p.m. July 27.