They met but not at City Hall.
Frederick, Md (KM) Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor called Wednesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting the “maiden voyage” in the use of remote technology. Instead of meeting at City Hall, elected officials were at various remote locations. But they could communicate with each other, discuss issues and vote through the use of technology.
It’s part of the city’s efforts to continue meeting during the coronavirus pandemic, but safeguard themselves, the city’s staff and the public from the virus. .
During their special meeting, the Board unanimously approved a resolution continuing the state of emergency issued on March 13th by the Mayor to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. It’ was set to expire on April 12th unless action is taken by the Board of Aldermen.
Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak raised a concern to the Mayor about the state of emergency continuing after the COVID-19 pandemic had been brought under control. “It can extend as far you want it to extend. I see some issues with that….not with you as Mayor,” she said.
“I would have zero interest in extending this emergency beyond when it would be necessary to do so,” O’Connor responded. “Throughout this, I’ve taken as much of a guidance as I can in terms of how we’ve done things in the city by looking what the Governor’s office has done, and the executive orders that come from them.”
He also said when there’s no more need for the state of emergency, it will be lifted, and no action is needed by the Board of Aldermen.
On another issue, the Aldermen approved a hearing schedule for the proposed fiscal year 2021 budget, which was introduced last week. The first meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 14th at 7:00 PM, when the Mayor will present an overview of the proposed spending plan. Two meetings which involve general discussion of the proposed budget will take place on Wednesday, April 22nd, and Monday, April 27th. The Mayor and the Aldermen will meet on both days from 10:00 AM until 12:00 PM, and from 1:00 PM until 3:00 PM. The budget and the tax rate are expected to be adopted on Thursday, May 7th during a virtual meeting which begins at 7:00 PM.
During these virtual meetings, citizens can comment by calling 301-600-1213. They can also submit comments via e-mail prior to the meeting.
“It’s going to be a budget process unlike any that I’ve participated in in my time,” Mayor O’Connor commented. . “Alderwoman Kuzemchak’s experience is a little longer. I think it’s unlike anything she’s been a part of as well.”
“Absolutely,” Alderwoman Kuzemchak responded.
By Kevin McManus