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Local News

Yorkville City Council grants mayor emergency powers for COVID-19 response

Yorkville Mayor John Purcell listens from his usual City Hall council chambers seat during a Tuesday, March 24 City Council meeting that was also conducted via live video call.
Yorkville Mayor John Purcell listens from his usual City Hall council chambers seat during a Tuesday, March 24 City Council meeting that was also conducted via live video call.

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YORKVILLE – Following a disaster proclamation from Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and a declared national emergency from U.S. President Donald Trump due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Yorkville City Council has granted the city's mayor temporary emergency powers to address the crisis.

The City Council voted, 7-0, to approve an ordinance granting special emergency powers to the mayor during the city's first-ever remote meeting on Tuesday, March 24. Ward 4 Alderman Seaver Tarulis was absent from the meeting both in person and via video or audio chat.

According to the ordinance, the mayor would be authorized to take several actions including banning liquor sales, suspend collective bargaining agreement terms other than compensation, or execute contracts to purchase goods and services to respond or recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The mayor could also delay or suspend city programs or services, per the ordinance.

Yorkville Mayor John Purcell said it was not absolutely necessary for the city to pass the ordinance. He said he has no plans or desire to immediately enact those powers, and he has previously said that a lot of what he would want done has already been done at the state level.

“What this would do is give the mayor the authority that, if all Hell breaks loose … [we can] enact these stricter measures,” Purcell said.

City Administrator Bart Olson said the approved emergency powers are effective immediately and are only good until the next regularly scheduled City Council meeting at 7 p.m. April 14.

“If [Purcell] determines it necessary, he could basically use those between those and next City Council meeting,” Olson said.

However, Olson said, the City Council would have to re-authorize it every meeting in order to re-enact the ordinance.

Olson said Purcell also would have the authority to suspend late payments for city water and sewer bills per the ordinance, but city officials are still looking into that type of action for city residents. He clarified the ordinance doesn't outline anything where any actions within the mayor's power for the next seven days will be enacted right off the bat.

“In case if things get worse, he’s able to work with some authority,” Olson said.

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