EVART -- The Evart City Council approved a resolution authorizing the city manager to make decisions under a declared state of emergency at its meeting April 6.

The resolution states that it is appropriate for the city manager to "temporarily make decisions" in the best interest of the city, when the state and county have both declared a state of emergency.

It allows temporary authority to the city manager to provide essential public services, including, but not limited to, police, water, sewer, utilities services and other essential government services that must continue during a pandemic, "without regard to time consuming procedures and formalities."

City manager, Sarah Dvoracek, told the council that the resolution pertains specifically to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

"Many communities are creating resolutions in this regard for the COVID-19 pandemic, as best practices to ensure decisions can be made, if necessary," Dvoracek said. "City administration is currently working on a revised disaster recovery plan to include a pandemic.

"The resolution will authorize the city manager to make decisions as far as meeting with the Osceola County emergency management director and anything that needs to happen during the pandemic," she added.

The resolution references Public Act 390, in which the state of Michigan provides authority of a municipality to authorize an emergency management coordinator, and clarifies the authority of the city manager, Dvoracek said.

Councilman Dan Elliott told the council that it was his understanding that, under Public Act 390, the resolution would stand for any situation where the city manager had to act in an emergency.

Assistant city manager Mark Wilson said, "FEMA (The Federal Emergency Management Agency) is now requiring an emergency operations plan that would act as a standing order, so that if, and when, FEMA should designate an emergency, the resolution would kick in at that time."

The motion was approved unanimously.

In other action, the council approved a resolution to waive penalties and late fees for utility bills during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dvoracek said she made the decision to waive penalty and late fees under an abundance of caution.

"I made the decision based on us not wanting people to make a special trip to city hall and risk contamination to themselves or others," she said. "We would like the council's approval to extend the waiver until the stay at home order is lifted."

The resolution states that the city council, in order to accommodate the citizenry, waives the interest/penalities fees that may accumulate during the executive order to "Stay Home Stay Safe," and may be extended as the governor so orders.

The council also approved a resolution establishing rules for attendance at virtual meetings.

The resolution is intended to establish rules for and authorize participation by remote access by members of the City of Evart public bodies, and attendance by remote access by members of the public in the interest of public health, safety and welfare during the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Again, this is just best practices," Dvoracek said. "The resolution notes that the governor is allowing us to meet this way and documenting that council gives their approval to move forward with virtual meetings and sets the groundwork for being in compliance with the executive order that allows us to do this."

The resolution states that the telephone or other electronic technology can be utilized for remote meetings and shall permit those in attendance to hear and be heard by others in attendance and permits members of the general public in attendance to hear and be heard during the public comment period.

According to the established rules, remote attendance is considered attendance for the purpose of establishing a quorum, and any vote by a member participating remotely is counted. All votes will be taken by a roll call.

Emails, texts, or other forms of communication between members during the meeting is not allowed.

Each member of the public that is attending remotely will be provided an opportunity to provide public comment during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Any meeting that will be held remotely will be posted on the city's website, and on the door of the Evart City Hall, 5814 100th Avenue, with information on how the public can access the meeting.

The next city council meeting will be at 7:30 p.m., April 20. For information on how to access the virtual meetings, visit evart.org.