With a 5-0 vote, Breckenridge City Council members passed a resolution to declare a local state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic at an emergency meeting held Wednesday, March 18.
In conjunction with this resolution, City Hall in Breckenridge, Minnesota will be closed to the public, although staff will continue to work. These measures taken by the city are meant to assist the city with greater access to additional resources and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Mayor Russ Wilson declared the local state of emergency which will allow the city to function under specific authorities relating to decision making, enabling the city to secure possible aid and resources from other jurisdictions, the state of Minnesota and the federal government.
“We did this for the reason that if there is a national disaster, us doing this early will enable us to have future help for our citizens who are affected by this. I think it will absolutely help. We are trying to be proactive rather than reactive,” Wilson said.
The coronavirus pandemic is an unforeseen, present, sudden and unexpected situation, which requires immediate action to be taken to prevent damage to the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the City of Breckenridge, a resolution states.
Responding to and recovering from the pandemic will likely exceed the resources available in Breckenridge, city staff estimate. And so securing those additional resources is necessary. Furthermore, the city has been asked to keep track of the expenses related to the virus pandemic and are waiting to hear back about potential reimbursement or other aid that may be available, City Administrator Renae Smith explained.
“In addition to securing aid or other resources as needed, we have broader authority to initiate changes to our standard mode of operations, policies, procedures, et cetera in order to continue to provide services to our residents while protecting the health and safety of the residents as well as our employees,” Smith said.
The goal of closing City Hall to the public is to limit person-to-person contact as much as possible while still performing essential public services. Staff at City Hall, Police Department, Public Works and Public Utilities will continue providing electric, water, sanitation, police, fire and snowplowing services.
“We hope to continue to conduct business as usual, just in a different way,” Smith said.
Additionally, the city has already implemented many practical responses to ensure safety to the public and city staff.
“We have some services in our city so if you see someone in the city that needs something, help them,” Council Member Jason Butts said. “We seem to be rather prepared.”
Residents will be able to pay their utility bills on the city’s website at www.breckenridgemn.net by setting up ACH payments via checking account, making payment at the drop box located in the alley of the west side of City Hall, or through mailing it to 420 Nebraska Ave, Breckenridge.
For any additional information, visit the city’s website or call 218-643-1431.