Grove City's offices, mayor's court returning to schedules

ALAN FROMAN
afroman@thisweeknews.com
ThisWeek group

Most of Grove City's municipal offices are expected to be opened to the public by the end of June.

City offices have been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The public will be able to enter all municipal buildings to interact with city employees, except for the Evans Senior Center, Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage said.

That building is expected to stay closed to the public until at least early fall because it serves a population that is particularly at risk for coronavirus, he said.

"The senior center is all about providing socializing activities for our senior population," safety director William Vedra said. "It would be very difficult to be able to do that while maintaining the 6-feet social-distancing protocol."

When city offices reopen to the public, visitors will have their temperature taken before they will be allowed to enter and will be required to wear a mask to interact with city staff, he said.

"We will have a supply of masks to provide people with one if they need it," Vedra said.

Plastic shields will be in place to help protect staff members and the public, he said.

City Council meetings will continue to be held virtually "for the time being," council clerk Tami Kelly said.

The state's order banning all public and private gatherings of more than 10 people is in place until July 1, and council will wait to see if the order is extended before deciding whether traditional in-person meetings can return, she said.

"We'll probably revisit the issue in mid-July," Kelly said.

Mayor's-court sessions, which have been suspended since mid-March, will resume with virtual sessions June 24, Stage said.

Defendants will be allowed to participate in their case remotely, he said.

"It's a convenience for them and for our police officers," Stage said.

The option to have a mayor's-court case heard virtually will continue even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, Vedra said.

A defendant still could choose to have his or her case heard in person, he said.

Mayor's-court collections for May totaled $8,319, Stage said. Normally, the monthly total would be closer to $30,000. The totals for April were in the same range, he said.

Those collections represent the payments made by people who chose to pay their fine and not go to court, Stage said.

The reduction is due to more than just the suspension of court cases amid the pandemic, city administrator Chuck Boso said.

"There has been a reduction in the amount of driving people are doing, so there are fewer tickets being issued, and a lot of businesses where thefts would occur have been closed," he said.

During the last fiscal year, about $200,000 in revenue from mayor's-court fines was transferred to the city's general fund, Boso said.

The general fund totaled about $34 million, so the mayor's-court revenue represented a drop in the bucket, he said.

The reduction in mayor's-court revenue over the past few months has had no real impact on city coffers, he said.

afroman@thisweeknews.com

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