Gahanna Mayor Laurie Jadwin has been given additional powers in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Gahanna City Council approved legislation March 23, giving Jadwin the right to exercise powers and duties in the event of disasters or emergencies that threaten the safety or health of the city’s residents.
Carrin Wester, Gahanna communications manager, said the legislation allows Jadwin to step in and address the operational needs of the city during this pandemic and mitigate the risk for community spread of the coronavirus in Gahanna.
“I very much appreciate the support of our City Council in passing this legislation to address the unique circumstances surrounding COVID-19,” Jadwin said. “The legislation, which was approved unanimously, was the result of an open and collaborative discussion and compromise by the administration, City Council and city attorney.”
She said the pandemic continues to evolve at a rapid pace, and having the ability and flexibility to take effective and swift action in response to ever-changing circumstances would be critical to protecting the health, safety and well-being of Gahanna residents.
“2020 has already presented many challenges, but I am confident that, by continuing to work together, we will accomplish much for Gahanna and that there are good days ahead,” Jadwin said.
The approved legislation authorizes her to proclaim a state of emergency in the city and to issue proclamations as she deems necessary to protect life and property.
Council also approved separate legislation to declare a state of emergency in Gahanna due to the coronavirus pandemic and empower the mayor with extraordinary powers during the state of emergency.
Previous storyGahanna council considers emergency powers for mayor
Gahanna City Council will consider legislation during a special meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, March 23, to give emergency powers to the mayor.
Council was expected to consider the measure March 20 but postponed it.
Mayor Laurie Jadwin said the current city code provisions aren’t effective or pertinent in addressing the unprecedented circumstances the city is facing as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The proposed legislation states the mayor “shall have and exercise all powers and duties vested by law in mayors and all other executive officers of municipalities in the event of riot, civil commotion, enemy attack, flood, fire, snowstorm, breakdown of utility services, or other disaster or emergency which threatens the safety or health of the residents of the city.”
The powers would include, but not be limited to, the making of requests, in the name of the city, to the governor, civil defense organizations, American Red Cross and other public or private agencies for assistance in the enforcement of law or the rendering of other aid needed in emergency.
The legislation also would authorize the mayor to proclaim a state of emergency in the city.
In the absence or disability of the mayor, the authority to proclaim a state of emergency would go to the president of council, then the vice president of council.
After a state of emergency has been proclaimed, any officer named therein is authorized to issue such proclamations as he or she deems necessary to protect life and property.
“The proposed changes would provide authority to amend our operations as needed in order to ensure that we are operating in compliance with the directives of the Ohio Department of Health and the mandates issued by the governor’s (Mike DeWine’s) office,” Jadwin said.
Jadwin said it would include the ability to temporarily suspend non-essential code provisions such as rental registration/inspections and code enforcement issues.
“Protecting the health and safety of our employees and our residents is of the utmost importance,” Jadwin said.
The proposed legislation states the mayor could suspend the enforcement of codes, including provisions of housing, building, zoning, health and other codes and rules for a period not to exceed three months.
As of March 18, Jadwin said, approximately 78% of the city’s workforce had been directed to work remotely from home.
“The city needs to be able to adjust operations to what we can – and cannot – reasonably do while also ensuring that we are positioned to provide essential services for our residents,” Jadwin said.
Carrin Wester, the city’s communications manager, said the proposed legislation doesn’t impact financial authority, decisions or responsibility.
“This does not affect the current budget,” she said. “It addresses current city operations, and our internal structure to ensure necessary operations will continue for our residents.”