City Council declares local state of emergency after rise in COVID-19 cases

On+Sept.+7%2C+2021+the+Mayor+of+Charleston%2C+Brandon+Combs+conducts+the+City+Council+Meeting.+During+this+meeting%2C+the+coucil+voted+on+appropriating+two+different+funds%3B+%24130%2C000+from+the+Motor+Fuel+Tax+%28MFT%29+funds+from+FY+2014%2FFY2015+and+%24180%2C000+from+MTF+funds+from+FY+2016%2FFY+2017.+

Rob Le Cates

On Sept. 7, 2021 the Mayor of Charleston, Brandon Combs conducts the City Council Meeting. During this meeting, the coucil voted on appropriating two different funds; $130,000 from the Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) funds from FY 2014/FY2015 and $180,000 from MTF funds from FY 2016/FY 2017.

Luke Taylor, News Editor

Charleston City Council declared a state of emergency for the city on Tuesday night in response to increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections in Coles County.

The state of emergency was active for most of 2020 for the same reason.

Mayor Brandon Combs said he was in contact with the Governor’s office and the Coles County Health Department for guidance on what steps to take.

“The point of this resolution is not for any mandating or overstepping any powers that myself as mayor have or ourselves as city council members have. This is just simply put in place in case something does happen and we need to do certain things,” Combs said.

In the past, the state of emergency was mostly used to quickly approve street closures to allow outside seating for local restaurants and other similar matters of business that would be more difficult under normal city operations.

City council also approved the appropriation of $310,000 in Motor Fuel Tax funds for street and highway maintenance.

They voted on two resolutions for appropriating the funds: one for $130,000 in MFT funds from FY 2014/FY2015 and another for $180,000 in MFT funds from FY 2016/2017.

A memorandum from Charleston Director of Public Works Curt Buescher explained the reasoning behind the appropriation of funds:

“Each year the City estimates the amount of MFT funds that will be used to maintain our streets and alleys, and then obligates that amount via a resolution as directed by the IDOT procedures. At the end of the fiscal year, we complete a statement of actual expenses for that year. If the actual expense exceeds the estimated expense, a supplemental resolution obligating the shortfall is submitted to IDOT.

Attached is a resolution obligating $180,000 of MFT funds for FY 17 street maintenance and construction work. According to a recent audit by IDOT, we had not submitted this supplemental resolution for FY 17.

No additional funds are being spent, we are simply passing the necessary resolution to satisfy IDOT’s requirements.

Please approve this supplemental resolution so we may stay in compliance with the IDOT policies.”

The council approved street closures for the upcoming Charleston High School Homecoming Parade, which will be on Sept. 30 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The closures will begin at Smith Drive, continue north to Fifteenth Street then north to Harrison Avenue; west on Harrison Avenue to Seventh Street; then north on Seventh Street to Monroe Avenue; then west on Monroe Avenue to Sixth Street; south on Sixth Street to Harrison Avenue; then east on Harrison Avenue to Fifteenth Street. The parade will conclude as it goes south on Fifteenth Street back to the beginning point on Smith Drive.

Mayor Brandon Combs named Sept. 17 through Sept. 23 as Constitution Week 2021 to celebrate the drafting of the Constitution of the United States.

According to the proclamation, citizens are asked to “reaffirm the ideals the Framers of the Constitution had in 1787 by vigilantly protecting the freedoms guaranteed to us through this guardian of our liberties, remembering that lost rights may never be regained.”

No members of the public addressed the council after Tuesday’s meeting.

Luke Taylor can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]