Towns are wrestling with finding the best way to continue functioning as a local government with public participation, while working to halt the spread of coronavirus.
All local towns are monitoring the continuously changing reports on the status of the disease, meaning so many of their decisions are tentative.
For example, target dates of when facilities, meetings and curtailed processes will return to normal can change, as the town leaders constantly reassess the best and healthiest response to the situation.
The Charlotte Selectboard called an emergency called meeting on Monday, March 15. They met on the porch of the Charlotte Library so the four members attending could practice social distancing. Louise McCarren participated via speaker phone.
The selectboard voted unanimously to close the Town Offices to the public. Essential town personnel will continue to work, but the town officials are considering ways for employees to work remotely.
Another issue on the agenda was the town’s unique Australian ballot to approve the budget articles that were approved by voice vote at Town Hall meeting.
The location of the vote has been moved from Charlotte Central School to the Charlotte Town Hall. The school has been closed as have all the schools in the Champlain Valley School District, so the voting location needed to move.
However, the discussion about this vote was continued for another selectboard meeting on Wednesday, March 18. The results of the Wednesday meeting were not available by press time.
Hinesburg closed its Town Hall on Monday. Recreation programs are off, too.
Town Hall staff will keep working, though, either at their usual desks or remotely. Those who need to reach out can do so via phone or email.
“This means that all meetings and functions at Town Hall have been cancelled until further notice,” said Town Administrator Renae Marshall in a letter on the town’s website.
“Thank you all for your patience, understanding and cooperation as we navigate this in a calm and responsible fashion, as a community. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions,” Marshall wrote.
Shelburne closed its Town Offices Wednesday afternoon, March 18, and they will remain closed until at least April 6.
“Staff will remain at work and on duty, doing our best to continue our service and work on your behalf,” said Town Manager Lee Krohn in an email Tuesday.
He said many needs and questions can be handled by phone or email. The phone numbers and email links of the town departments are on the town’s website: shelburnevt.org.
The Shelburne Water Department will respond to emergency calls but is not scheduling meter replacements for the time being. The Wastewater Department is on call, Buildings and Grounds is continuing cleaning and maintenance, Finance and Assessing are available for questions and the Town Manager’s office is open.
The Town Clerk’s office is open, too, but is not processing any applications in person. Dog license paperwork can be mailed in.
Planning and Zoning applications for a permits can be submitted by using the forms at shelburnevt.org/154/Planning-Zoning. Email completed application forms as PDF attachments to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. The staff will confirm receipt and describe payment options. Applications may also be submitted by mail.