Banks City Hall. Photo: Brenda Schaffer

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BANKS - During the Tuesday, April 14 city council meeting — held remotely via a video conferencing service for some councilors — the elected leaders of the city of Banks unanimously extended Banks' emergency declaration to May 12, the next date the council plans to meet. 

The original declaration (found online here) was adopted at a special city council meeting held on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 18 in response to the novel coronavirus health crisis.

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.

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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 and 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.