By Jon King /

As the Livingston County Board of Commissioners debates whether or not to rescind its recently passed resolution allowing online meetings to continue, officials in Howell have moved ahead with their own plan.

In a press release today, it was announced that Howell City Council has approved a resolution declaring a public health emergency through the end of May. The release noted that the county’s Board of Commissioners recently approved a similar resolution for Livingston County, but may reconsider the declaration. “Due to this uncertainty, Howell City Council has moved forward with the City’s own aforementioned resolution.”

The release follows the scheduling of a Special Meeting for 5:30 pm today by the Board of Commissioners to reconsider their original resolution.

Howell officials say that in the absence of the State extending the Open Meetings Act and the County uncertain of their direction, their declaration will allow City Boards and Commissions to continue to meet electronically through May 31st. Under Public Act 228 passed last year, public meetings may be held electronically in 2021 if there is declared a statewide or local state of emergency or state of disaster.

Without such a declaration, boards, commissions, and committees would have to meet in person while still adhering to state health department guidelines regarding capacity limits. That would place them in a position of potentially having to decide whether to violate the Open Meetings Act or state health department rules.

Howell Mayor Nick Proctor said that while Howell City Council intends to hold public meetings electronically during this period, they remain “cautiously optimistic” they can return to in-person meetings in June. Proctor says that in the interim, they will continue monitoring any guidance coming from the CDC, the State of Michigan, and the Livingston County Health Department.