In a building that’s 126 years old, modern technology will allow Springfield City Council to continue holding public meetings during the coronavirus pandemic.
From here on out, meetings will be held electronically to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The only person in Council Chambers at Historic City Hall during the April 6 meeting will be Mayor Ken McClure and an occasional staff member. All other council members will be joining in via Zoom from the safety of their homes.
Citizens will still be able to participate. Springfield City Clerk Anita Cotter said there are various ways they can speak to an issue, including email, and even in person.
“If they do want to come to the council meeting, we will have a room set up where they will have a video link to Council Chambers and to the participants and to the Zoom meeting, and they’ll be able to speak before council,” said Cotter.
Anyone with questions should call the city clerk’s office at (417) 864-1651.
Cotter said this is the first time they've had to change the way council meetings are held in her 24 years working for the city. The biggest challenge, according to Cotter, is keeping the balance between public safety and allowing individuals to have access to their elected officials.
"We don't want to hamper that process in any way," she said, but at the same time they need to keep citizens, staff and council members safe and in compliance with the social distancing measures that are in place. She credited the city's Public Information Office for making it all happen.
There have been a couple of test runs, according to Cotter, and they've worked out the bugs.
Springfield City Council will vote Tuesday during a noon meeting on a rule that would require citizens to contact the city clerk by 5 p.m. on the Friday before a meeting to sign up to speak to any agenda item or to remove an item from the consent agenda. "The purpose of the proposed motion is to allow for planning to protect public health and safety during this time of emergency," according to a statement from the City of Springfield.
The usual live stream and broadcast viewing options will still be available. Springfield City Council meetings can be seen on Mediacom cable channels 15.1, 22 and 80 and AT&T Uverse channel 99 or viewed online at cityview.springfieldmo.gov/livestream. Council meetings are also live streamed on the @CityofSgf Facebook page.
The next regular Springfield City Council meeting will be Monday, April 6, at 6:30 p.m.
Cotter said council meetings will be held electronically at least until the stay at home order is lifted. After that, she said they'll evaluate the situation to decide what to do next.