On March 24, Bexley City Council voted 7-0 to approve two ordinances that Mayor Ben Kessler said are intended to help the city respond to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Council members unanimously approved Ordinance 21-20, appropriating $30,000 for the city to spend on coronavirus-related supplies, and Ordinance 22-20, authorizing the mayor and auditor to spend up to $50,000 on personnel costs related to the pandemic and adjusting paid time off and personnel benefits for city workers.

Council approved the ordinances as emergency legislation, waiving the three-reading requirements.

Ordinance 21-20 authorizes the city administration to purchase necessary supplies until council's next scheduled meeting April 14, Kessler said.

"If there is a need to purchase additional hand sanitizer, soap," the ordinance enables the administration to do so, he said.

"I don't really anticipate that we're going to get to a $30,000 mark, but this provides a bit of an extra leash to do so," he said.

Kessler said he arrived at the $30,000 amount by estimating how the city might respond if the pandemic causes shortages of food or supplies.

"I did some calculations of what might happen if some residents had a devastating emergency food shortage and we somehow had to supply (food)," he said. "We threw together some thoughts as to what flexibility would I need, potentially, over a two-week period between council meetings, essentially, and some worst-case scenarios."

Ordinance 22-20 states the city administration is enabled "to grant, on a temporary basis, modified or and/or paid time off which, in the mayor's judgment are necessary to enable employees to provide essential services and preventative measures relating to the COVID-19 pandemic."

Kessler said Ordinance 22-20 especially applies to the city's service department, which maintains the city's infrastructure, including sanitary and storm sewers, water distribution, traffic signals, trash and recycling pickup, and streets and alleys.

"We have service-department employees that are broken into two teams. In order to accommodate that, one of the teams is coming in for one week," Kessler said. "The other team is coming in for another week, which requires some personal leave being given to them so that they're still getting paid even though they're not physically present. That is one of the sectors of our staff that really can't perform their job remotely."

Kessler said he would report to council how much the city has spent on coronavirus-related expenses at the April 14 meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at Bexley City Hall, 2242 E. Main St.

According to the city's website, bexley.org, due to Gov. Mike DeWine's stay-at-home order, the public is allowed to view council meetings in the City Hall lobby but also is encouraged to participate online.

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