MIAMI — The Miami city council Tuesday night approved a resolution modifying the original that called for a nonpartisan general election in Miami on April 7 for the purpose of electing a mayor.
This means that the mayoral election will now be held on Tuesday, June 30, due to the coronavirus quarantine.
“We enacted the original resolution and everything was going along just fine for us to have the election on April 7, but then we received a proclamation from the state election board asking us to move the election because of the coronavirus issues,” city attorney Ben Loring said. “Rescheduling would cost the city approximately $1,000 for reprinting the ballots and we would have to cover any other costs that were incurred by the election board. It would also extend (Miami Mayor Rudy) Schultz’s current mayoral term into July.”
Mackenzie Garst, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls’ Club of Ottawa County, requested a waiver of the current coronavirus mandates so that the club can open to feed essential personnel in the area.
“I was asked to speak regarding the club, which is currently closed to the public, but we are still actively serving families to ensure kids are fed and have an active connection with the organization that normally sees them 365 days a year,” Garst said.
“The Oklahoma Alliance of Boys & Girls’ Clubs is pursuing funding from the state that would allow us to open to also serve first responders and essential personnel. It would indemnify us from legal liability and allow us to open the doors to serve fire, police, and EMS, hospital workers, foster families, essential state employees, and healthcare workers’ families free of charge. It is being pursued in other states also,” Garst said.
She said the organization would abide by the 10 or less in one space, or 10 or less per classroom, and they would follow strict cleaning protocols.
“We would have healthcare worker on site to take temperatures and each student would be asked specific questions about recent travel and symptoms, etc.,” Garst said. “There would be no more than 40 kids in the facility at any time. The need is there, but we would need the city’s blessing to do this by waiving the no more than 10 people together in one place regulation.
The council then approved amending the original emergency ordinance put into place last Saturday.
“The original ordinance in regard to closures was basically based on Tulsa’s,” Loring said. “But they did not have massage and tattoo parlors included in theirs, so we are adding those under these proposed modifications. We are making a clarification about our utility shutoff (wording), but the major change is our limiting groups to 10 people or less on city property. We are listing five specific exceptions that have been brought to our attention since the ordinance was put into place that would be appropriate modifications,” Loring said.
“As it is written now, we cannot override the open meetings act; we couldn’t restrict people if they wanted to attend public meetings, even if 50 people showed up. So, the five exceptions being proposed include public meetings, funerals at the G.A.R. Cemetery, election polling places, blood drives on city property, and the Boys & Girls’ Club,” Loring said.
Schultz, as mayor, has the authority to make changes to the emergency order as he deems necessary and appropriate, according to Loring, and the city will be tightening down those ordinances and they could change at any time.
It was recommended by council member Doug Weston that the city follow whatever guidelines the governor hands down.
City manager Dean Kruithof said, “We will hold off on any utility penalties until June 3,” and Schultz added, “We are not waiving utility bills. That’s revenue the city needs to keep operating. We are stopping any cutoffs and any associated penalties temporarily. Residents are urged to pay some or all of their bill as soon as they can and should contact the utilities office to work out a payment plan if necessary.
Darrell Hart with Playland Lanes in Miami spoke to the council during the public input portion of the meeting to request a waiver to the mandate that the bowling alley be closed during the virus quarantine period, stating that he would put procedures in place to provide protection for the public and his employees.
“The ordinance you passed was a death sentence for me,” Hart said. “We are trying to sell food to go, but haven’t sold anything yet. I think we can comply in most cases to what the CDC is requesting at this time. The team members wear gloves at all times and switch out frequently. We disinfect everything anybody can touch, except the ceiling. We are cleaning the bowling balls and shoes daily. We would close every other lane so that people will not be closer than 19 feet, unless they choose to be. And there would be no more than four groups of 10 or less bowling at any given time.
“The staff is being monitored and wouldn’t be allowed to work if they showed any symptoms. We would be fairly well in line with the actual CDC regulations,” Hart said.
Schultz said that a local dentist had contacted him to say that if the city amended the language of the declaration to call it a “civil disturbance” it might allow his and other businesses to remain open. He was invited to speak at the meeting, but did not attend.
According to Schultz, he will review the matters and they will be addressed at the next council meeting.
Bryon Machado of the Youth Athletic Development Foundation made a presentation by phone (along with some of his other board members) on the proposed development of the old airport hangar at 2202 G NW for an indoor soccer and softball practice facility.
He said they have been researching and looking at different scenarios to improve the quality of life for area youth and the community.
The main ceiling height is just under 19 feet, which is about right for basketball and just about any other indoor activity.
The foundation’s concerns about remodeling the old hangar include the roof, possible asbestos, the exterior condition, limited parking, utilities and storm drainage.
They would like for the city to continue to own the building and to assist with the cleanup and removal of interior items.
“That would be similar to the agreement we have with the Boys & Girls’ Club,” Schultz said. “We would own the building, but the foundation would run the facility and be responsible for the interior.”
All council members agreed that they would like to see the renovation pursued, however, no action was taken.
The council approved a budget amendment to transfer funds from the Rainy Day fund to purchase a tire shop property at 411 North Main to auction and demolish it, as well as the former VFW Building at 102 5th NW.
Kruithof said that to buy and remediate the properties would cost approximately $200,000.
Discussion of the 2020-2021 budget process was held at the meeting in light of the unknown economic effects of the coronavirus.
No action was taken.