The City of Visalia is having a special closed session meeting tomorrow at 10am with one closed session item and one special agenda item open to the public.
The closed session agenda item states:
“THREAT TO PUBLIC SERVICES OR FACILITIES, Government Code Section 54957(a), Consultation with City Manager, City Attorney, City Litigator, Department Heads.”
City Manager Randy Groom said that the title is not meant to cause alarm and that such meetings are not particular to Visalia. He said many cities are calling similar meetings to evaluate the threat COVID-19 poses to their public health.
“It’s a provision in the Brown Act that cities can use when faced with an unusual threat like the COVID Virus.”
Groom said the meeting is to update the city council about how COVID-19 is affecting staffing, Visalia’s services and its facilities. No decisions will be made during closed session and Groom will not be asking for the council’s direction, so he does not anticipate reporting out after the meeting.
Government Code Section 54957(a) states that cities can meet in closed session “on matters posing a threat to the security of public buildings, a threat to the security of essential public services, including water, drinking water, wastewater treatment, natural gas service, and electric service, or a threat to the public’s right of access to public services or public facilities.”
Item 2 on the special meeting agenda, which is open to the public, is a review of the emergency proclamation ratified by city council.
The City of Visalia posted on its website last week:
“The COVID-19 virus is having a major impact on all levels of government and Visalia is no exception,” stated Randy Groom, City Manager. “There is now a confirmed case in Visalia, the Visalia Unified School District has shut down the schools and the equipment that our first responders need to protect themselves from the virus is becoming difficult to acquire.”
On Saturday, March 14, 2020, City Manager Randy Groom, in his role as Director of Emergency Services, declared a Local Emergency and the City of Visalia Emergency Operations Center was opened.
The Visalia City Council has seven days to ratify the existence of the Local Emergency.
A local emergency is declared when an emergent situation has or will be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of that political subdivision and require the combined forces of other political subdivisions to combat.
“By declaring a local emergency, the City of Visalia is eligible to potentially be reimbursed for some costs associated with responding to the emergency (COVID-19),” added Groom. “It should be noted that Tulare County, the State of California and the Federal Government have all declared emergencies as a result of the COVID-19 virus.”