The Laramie City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to suspend all of the city’s boards and commissions during the COVD-19 pandemic.
“I am a little concerned about the fact that we have to do this because some of our boards, like the Planning Commission, are pretty critical to what we do, so I don’t think this is going to come without some consequences, but I think we all recognize that it’s necessary,” council member Paul Weaver said.
The resolution was deliberately drafted with some latitude, City Attorney Bob Southard said, to “make sure that the necessary business can be accomplished.”
Under the current format, Southard, City Clerk Nancy Bartholomew and City Manager Janine Jordan have the authority to call a special meeting of a board.
“If there’s a significant impact on a project, citizens, or developers, or a legal reason to have them convened, we’ll have them convened,” Southard said.
The Laramie City Council itself will continue to meet on a limited basis only to address “limited essential items.”
During Tuesday’s council meeting, four of the council’s nine members participated from home via the video-conference program Zoom.
City Council is scheduled to meet next week to have a public hearing on liquor license renewals and to review its audit for the 2019 fiscal year.
If the nationwide closures continue past the federal government’s initial 15-day time frame, Southard said city staff will try to find ways that board might be able to resume work by meeting through video streaming.
“We can certainly revisit this in three weeks at the next council meeting,” he said.
Laramie Municipal Court has started conducting hearings using Zoom and other technology that’s connected with the county jail.
Council-member Brian Harrington said he was told by a local attorney that the change to Zoom hearings “was well-received and appreciated.”
On Wednesday, the Wyoming Supreme Court recommended that all of the state’s district and circuit courts suspend in-person proceedings.