The Brentwood City Commission met on Monday night for its first meeting during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the city's declaration of a state of emergency on Friday.
More than half of commissioners attended the meeting remotely — and they all made requests for the public to do their part in slowing and stopping the public health emergency.
Brentwood City Manager Kirk Bednar, Brentwood City Commissioners Mark Gorman and Nelson Andrews and Mayor Rhea Little were present at City Hall while Commissioners Anne Dunn and Susannah Macmillan, City Attorney Kristen Corn and Vice Mayor Ken Travis were on a video chat and Commissioner Regina Smithson was on an audio chat.
All of the commissioners expressed their support for those working to combat the virus and support those impacted by the crisis, encouraging citizens to take serious steps as detailed by the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as thanking the city staff and first responders.
Little read a prepared statement recapping the national, state and local states of emergency that have disrupted the economy, healthcare industry and social functions across the country and led to limited physical attendance of the meeting.
Little then spoke directly about the pandemic, reading another prepared statement, where he said that he has been in communication with local, state and national officials throughout the crisis, whose efforts he praised, and later in the meeting thanking citizens who are following guidelines and precautions to help flatten the curve.
“As we strive to protect the most vulnerable and we all make tremendous sacrifices in our war against COVID-19, I pray that everyone is striving to love their neighbor by doing what is asked of us by medical experts and those who are governing and trying to protect us individually and as a society,” Little said.
“Make no mistake, this is a war against an invisible enemy and a deadly enemy, as they say on a ship in a distress alert, ‘All hands on deck. This is not a drill, I repeat this is not a drill,” Little said. “What we do in the next few days and weeks is of vital importance concerning lives saved, how many who have permanent damage to heart and lungs from the virus and the economic issues that arise from how well we fight this pandemic.”
Little also read five points from the statement that detailed their seriousness in confronting the public health crisis and asking all non-essential industries and services to stay at home to help improve public health.
“1. We must do everything we can to protect the most vulnerable. This is a time to love your neighbor as yourself.
2. We must flatten the curve, to not do this leads to disastrous problems and many deaths from the COVID-19 and the numerous other deaths from individuals who could not get medical care because the medical system is swamped.
3. Every level of government is working diligently to stop the spread of the virus and at the same time to help ease the burdens of so many who have been directly and immediately effected economically by this pandemic.
4. The most important position in this battle is held by you, each individual and their choosing to do all the things that they know to do: good hygiene, social distancing, isolation if needed, canceling or postponing discretionary travel, not hoarding , following instructions from medical experts and governing authority, and showing kindness to the most vulnerable by doing everything to slow or stop the spread of the virus. Those not deemed in an essential industries, stay home. By doing this you better protect yourself and your loved ones and those who have to be out in an essential service.
5. Pray, Pray, Pray, pray for those infected, pray for the families of those who have died, pray for our health care workers and first responders, pray for all those who are immediately out of a job or who have been cut back on wages, pray for peace and firm resolve; not fear and panic, and the thousands upon thousands of other things that we can pray during this time of crisis . Please pray for leaders at all levels who have to make hard decisions and hard choices.
Please pray Psalm 91 AND and 2 Timothy 1 : 7, “For God gave us not a spirit of fear but of power and love and of a sound mind.”
State of the City
City Manager Bednar thanked the city’s technical staff for their quick work to make the remote meetings possible, adding that some operational changes have been made, including taking efforts to limit visitor’s physical contact with the city hall, now conducting business through a service window and utilizing online communication and online services, as well as having some city staff work remotely.
“With the exception to the library, of course, all other city departments remain open and we are doing our best to provide regular services,” Bednar said. “Even at the library though, while the budding is closed, note that there’s a wide variety of services available online from the library.”
Bednar said that the city will not be disconnecting water services from accounts with unpaid bills “during this time,” adding that the bills are not forgiven.
“Depending on how long this goes on, at some point though we may want to have a discussion with the commission relative to penalties and interest and whether there is a need to consider some waiver of that if this continues for an extended period of time,” Bednar said.
Bednar said that the city’s goal is to maintain its normal operating procedures to the greatest extent possible, adding that the situation is fluid.
“Now that would change of course if the Governor were to issue a state-wide order relative to only to essential functions as far as people working, or God forbid we actually had a positive case here within our city workforce and then obviously we would have to be adjusting relative to quarantining,” Bednar said.
Bednar said that police, fire, dispatch and utility services are deemed essential and will continue to operate while public works would be on an on-call basis and codes inspections would also continue, adding that part of the city’s effort to continue services and operations is continuing communication with other municipalities and the greater county government.
The remainder of the meeting was business as usual with the unanimous approval of the Consent Agenda which included the following items.
The adoption of a resolution authorizing the installation of a speed hump on Ansley Lane in the Somerset subdivision, a resolution authorizing the acquisition of easements for the Wilson Pike Circle Sewer Line Replacement Project, a resolution authorizing the acquisition of easements for the Winkle Road Water Line Project, a resolution amending the John P. Holt Brentwood Library policy manual on the section relative to the Brentwood Room Collection Development Statement, a resolution authorizing an amendment to the agreement with the Parent Company to decrease the guaranteed maximum price for the police department headquarters facility and a resolution to purchase roofing materials for the police headquarters from the Garland Company pursuant tot he Ominia Purchasing Cooperative.
In new business the Commission unanimously approved the first reading of Ordinance 2020-05, an amendment to Section 22-4 of the Brentwood Municipal Code Relative to an Electronic Citation Fee.
According to the online agenda, the change would see a city court clerk shall charge and collect an electronic traffic citation fee of $5 for each traffic citation resulting in a conviction.
The city said in the Finance Department will set up a special revenue fund for $4 of the total $5 fee, similar to the Drug Fund, and the remaining $1 will go to a restricted fund balance in the general fund to be carried over year to year.
“The purpose of this legislation is to provide financial assistance to court and law enforcement agencies in implementing/processing electronic citations, a process that is much more efficient than writing paper tickets and hand entering data into court software. The Brentwood Police Department currently utilizes electronic citations, but will continue to incur costs associated with replacing hardware, software maintenance, etc. The collection of this fee will help offset those costs,” the agenda reads.
The city said that the projected revenue for the five-year period allowed to collect the additional fee is approximately $30,000, to be used to implement and sustain the electronic citation process, which does have a five-year sunset clause in the legislation.
City staff recommends that the collection of the additional fee begin July 1, to coincide with the beginning of fiscal year 2020-2021 for accounting purposes.
For those cases where this new fee would be applied, the assessed court costs will increase from $75 to $80, and the city noted that court costs are separate from the actual fine for a ticket, which is capped at $50.
Little also issued a proclamation recognizing April 4 as Arbor Day and praised the Brentwood Tree Board, noting that the city’s annual Arbor Day celebration is one of the many festivals that has been canceled due to the ongoing pandemic.
At the end of the meeting Mayor Little played "How soap kills the coronavirus," an informational hand-washing video produced by VOX.
The next City Commission meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 13, and is expected to once again be live-streamed with limited in-person attendance.
"I just want to tell the citizens of Brentwood, be well, be safe and god bless," Mayor Little said, before adjourning the meeting.