Banks City Hall. Photo: Brenda Schaffer

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BANKS - At a special city council meeting held on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 18, the city of Banks adopted a resolution declaring an emergency in response to the novel coronavirus health crisis.

The full declaration can be read on the city website here.

According to city attorney Dan Kearns, from a legal perspective, the declaration gives staff and city officials authority and clear direction to act during the coronavirus in ways that might not be clearly outlined in the Banks city code.

Kearns, who is also contracted to work with a number of small and medium cities throughout the state, noted that some smaller cities use a declaration of emergency to reassure their citizens that their city is aware of the problem and is taking steps to address it.

The city of Forest Grove made a similar declaration on March 14.

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The resolution adopted by the Banks city council allows for a number of measures to be taken until the deceleration ends on April 14, unless it is extended by city council.

Specifically, the declaration notes:

-- The city manager — Jolynn Becker — shall serve as the Emergency Program Manager.

-- The city may establish a curfew within the city or a portion of the city's streets and public spaces, other than authorized personnel;

-- The city may limit or prohibit "number of persons who may gather or congregate upon any public street, public place or any outdoor place within the City."

-- The city may enter into cooperative agreements with Washington County, the state of Oregon, or any appropriate public agency or private entity to accomplish the goals of the declaration;

-- The city may, within the bounds of the law, take any action to "respond to the emergency and extraordinary circumstances caused by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to protect the public health, safety and welfare."

The declaration also cancels all nonessential city events, commission, committee, and task force meetings until April 14, allows the city to redirect funds — and cut through red tape — to use for the emergency as needed, and suspends utility disconnections due to late payment of utility bills to the city of Banks.

It also directs the city to issue "liberal use of sick leave" and allow for work for home options for city employees, should such measures be necessary to limit the impact of COVID-19 and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.