The Stillwater City Council met via teleconference on Monday to discuss the city’s COVID-19 response and conduct normal business.
This was the second city council meeting to be held remotely. Mayor William Joyce hosted the meeting from the city council chamber, while the other four councilors participated using Zoom.
During the meeting, Stillwater’s city manager, Norman McNickle, said a municipal employee had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and 31 employees were currently quarantined. McNickle said the employee who tested positive for the virus had not been in contact with any members of the public.
“If we had knowledge of anybody that had been contaminated, we would contact them,” McNickle said.
The council also addressed Stillwater Medical Center’s preparedness for an influx of coronavirus patients, and held a discussion on Ordinance 3451. Additionally, the council unanimously approved a grant from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.
The grant added $100,000 to the library’s budget, with a sizable amount of the funds going to alleviate increased demands on the Oklahoma Virtual Library system. The remainder of the funds will be used to purchase downloadable material for the virtual library, according to the budget amendment request.
Councilor John Wedlake said Stillwater Medical Center is also looking to increase its capacity because of the threat of an influx of COVID-19 patients.
“There was an order by the governor to increase healthcare capacity by 40% for all healthcare facilities across the state,” Wedlake said. “I can say that Stillwater Medical Center is currently at a level where they have exceeded that.”
Ordinance 3451 is another response to the COVID-19 outbreak being considered by the council. The Ordinance would amend the land development code to allow the city manager to approve minor variances, a responsibility ordinarily handled by the board of adjustment.
The city attorney said because of current circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, the board of adjustment can’t meet.
“The current ordinance provides for minor amendments to be granted by the development services director,” John Dorman said. “But because of the way that it’s written, the limitations that are within that ordinance, and some notice requirements, it makes it difficult for us to administer it right now.”
The city manager would maintain the power to grant minor amendments until June 30 if the ordinance is approved as currently written. The city council would also have the option of extending the ordinance if needed.
Vice Mayor Pat Darlington asked the attorney why the board couldn’t meet by teleconference, but Dorman said because of the notice requirements, there would still be a problem with people showing up to the meetings.
The council voted unanimously to advance Ordinance 3451 to a second reading.
The next regular meeting of the Stillwater City Council is scheduled for April 6, at 5:30 p.m.