Board takes action on disaster

Published 12:14 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2020

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At its regular meeting held Monday, April 13, the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors confirmed a declaration of local emergency and approved/adopted a continuity of government ordinance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The declaration of emergency, prompted by similar action taken on state and federal levels, served to activate the county’s local emergency operations plan and authorized the furnishing of assistance and aid thereunder.

Although Board Chairman and County Director of Emergency Management Garland Hamlett originally enacted the declaration March 16, it still had to be confirmed by the board at the body’s regular meeting. The board voted unanimously to approve the resolution confirming the declaration of local emergency.

The board also voted unanimously to approve and adopt a continuity of government ordinance. The emergency ordinance effectuates the continuation of local government operations in the face of the ongoing pandemic.

The ordinance addresses the dangers posed by the coronavirus and the possible inability of public bodies like the board to assemble safely in one physical location as a quorum. It also allows for certain emergency procedures to be followed, including allowing public bodies to hold regular meetings through real-time electronic means.

An electronic meeting comes with its own stipulations, including notifying the public of the meeting a minimum of three days in advance and identifying how the public may participate or otherwise provide comment. For any matters requiring a public hearing, the public can submit comments by electronic means in advance, solicited through telephonic or electronic methods.

The document also says the board will consider postponing taking action on any matter that is not essential in providing for continuity of government until a time in which normal procedures and practices can resume.

Notwithstanding any provision of the law, deadlines of the board, its officers and employees shall be suspended during the emergency and disaster. However, members of the board and its officers/ employees are encouraged to take such action as is practical and appropriate to meet those deadlines.

Additionally, non-emergency public hearings and action items of public entities can be postponed. A public notice of this postponement must be given and the public must be made aware of how and when it can present its views on the items.

It is also ordained that each incorporated town within the county is encouraged and authorized to declare its own state of local emergency and to adopt its own ordinance for the continuity of government.

A full copy of the declaration and the ordinance can be found on the county’s website.