By Mike Kruzman /

Livingston County is one step closer to a declaration that will allow local governments a choice in how they meet to hold meetings for the next couple of months.

Emergency Manager Therese Cremonte appeared before the County Board of Commissioner’s Public Safety and Infrastructure and Development Committee, Monday afternoon. She presented a declaration of a local state of emergency that would extend the county’s ability to meet the Open Meetings Act and allow for virtual meetings to continue through May 31st. The resolution grants the county permission to end it sooner if it chooses.

Cromonte said Emergency Management is like an umbrella that the local jurisdictions, in this case at least, could choose to take shelter under if they wish. Local jurisdictions could continue to meet virtually, but they would not be required to.

Since she drafted the resolution 6 days earlier, Cremonte said there has been an increase of 1,500 positive cases and 10 deaths from COVID in Livingston County, showing why this is an important declaration to consider. Commissioner Carol Griffith noted that with St. Patrick’s Day and spring break coming up, there may be another peak.

Current legislation at the state level expires at the end of March, and without this declaration, meetings would have to again be held in person while also adhering to capacity limits allowed by the MDHHS. County attorney Rich McNulty said those 25-person participation limits could cause issues and adjournments if a local jurisdiction sees a big turnout and has to turn people away. Griffith said she has talked with governments in her district and that there is anticipation for big projects coming up that the community will want to participate in.

Other committee members and Cremonte commented on how they have been in touch with some of the local governments and there is support. Green Oak, Hamburg, and Tyrone townships were noted as being interested in its passing.

County Administrator Nathan Burd confirmed this but added that they are jurisdictions that feel they can meet again in person due to traditionally low attendance numbers. He reiterated that the resolution does not force local boards to meet virtually, it just keeps that option open.

The four-member committee voted unanimously to move the resolution to the full County Board for discussion and consideration.