Online Meeting Demands Push County To Consider State Of Emergency
March 10, 2021
By Mike Kruzman / firstname.lastname@example.org
Livingston County officials are considering a declaration that would allow the local governmental units to continue meeting online if they choose.
State legislation that allows public bodies to hold virtual meetings during the pandemic is set to end March 31st. Livingston County Administrator Nathan Burd told the Board of Commissioners this week that it doesn’t sound like that date will be extended. State health department orders on capacities that are still in effect until at least April 19th, however, pose a problem for those wishing to again meet in person. Burd proposed adopting a local state of emergency declaration which would allow all the local bodies of government within the county the option of staying online.
He added that the Michigan Association of Counties is on board, encouraging counties to continue meeting virtually or in a hybrid manner.
With capacity limits of 25 people in board rooms, Burd said that neither the meeting they were currently in, nor almost any the Board of Commissioners held in the past year would be permitted, in person. He pointed to an October meeting with 160 participants and a recent one with over 100.
A hybrid meeting, where a majority of the board meets online and others virtually also poses challenges. For example, if more people attend than they can accommodate, they would have to have an overflow room set up with two-way communication.
Burd said their intention is to introduce the declaration at the county’s Public Safety Committee meeting on Monday. Emergency Manager Therese Cremonte was said to be drafting the resolution with the reason simply being to allow continued virtual meetings. Burd said if he hears objections to this from Commissioners then they can talk about their options, but if there is support it will be ready in time for the end of the month. He anticipated it would have an end date for the end of April or May, with a provision that the Board can end it earlier if they wish.