SALEM — The city’s mayor is asking for an emergency $250,000 to spend on coronavirus response, and it will be discussed at a meeting conducted virtually Thursday night.

The City Council will meet in its chambers at City Hall on Thursday at 7 p.m. The meeting will be broadcast on Zoom, a video meeting and webinar platform being used to ensure public access to the meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic that has largely shut down access to city buildings.  Council President Bob McCarthy said he and City Clerk Ilene Simons will be in chambers while 10 councilors are slated to weigh in remotely.

The shorter-than-usual 17-page agenda includes a $250,000 request from Mayor Kim Driscoll for “costs associated with mitigating local COVID-19 emergency expenses as they arise.” 

“Our community is responding to an unprecedented public health crisis,” Driscoll wrote. “Unfortunately, we are also facing a significant need for funding to respond to this emergency in a manner that will help protect public health and ensure the delivery of essential services and resources.”

Driscoll’s letter noted that federal reimbursement “for costs incurred to respond to this crisis will be forthcoming in the future. Despite that, however, there’s an immediate need for expenditures to be made to support critical agencies and services in a timely manner.”

Examples of costs include buying additional personal protective equipment (PPE) for public safety and inspector personnel, as well as another public health nurse and “support for helping our most vulnerable populations,” Driscoll told The Salem News.

The agenda also includes a single vote to reappoint several of the city’s most critical department heads to two- and three-year terms, including city planning director Tom Daniel and Dave Knowlton, who heads up Salem’s public works department.

The meeting will be broadcast over Zoom, and the agenda includes three pages of instructions on how to attend and file public comment in lieu of the traditional methods of signing up to speak in person:

Before or during the meeting, visit zoom.us/j/613967235Similarly to above, visit zoom.us/join and entering the meeting/webinar ID number “613 967 235” as directed and hit “Join”Call in on a phone toll-free at 888-475-4499 or 877-853-5257 and, when prompted, enter the meeting or webinar ID number provided above to provide testimony prior to the meeting, email comments to City Clerk Ilene Simons at isimons@salem.com or leave a voicemail at 978-619-5614. Submissions should include the person’s name, address and subject matter being referenced in addition to a call-back phone number and email address if possible.

The Salem News will also cover the meeting live on Twitter as it plays out. For live updates as they happen, follow reporter Dustin Luca at the Twitter handle @DustinLucaSN.

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