Sequim leaders declared a State of Civil Emergency on Monday, March 16, in what could become the last in-person meeting at the Sequim Civic Center for some time.
City staff discussed with a room of about 20 people and four video callers that the declaration authorizes Sequim Police and city staff to minimize the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 from spreading in Sequim.
“We emphasize that this declaration is primarily precautionary in nature,” Deputy Ted Miller said at the meeting.
“There have been no positive tests of the virus in Clallam County at the time. However, this declaration is desirable so that civil and health authorities can move immediately if circumstances change.”
Miller added, “While the COVID-19 health risk in Sequim is currently theoretical, the economic risk to the city businesses and their employees is very real. We plan to do everything in our power to return to normalcy in the shortest possible time.”
City councilors voted 4-1 for the declaration, with Troy Tenneson opposed and Tom Ferrell absent.
Tenneson told councilors he felt fear in the room but encouraged people to spread courage and consider what is best for citizens.
He said there are more imminent threats that kill people such as the common flu and suicide.
“We just need to take a drink of some realities … I just want to balance ourselves out as we proceed. We do need to proceed with some caution,” Tenneson said.
He said events like the Irrigation Festival are postponing from May, and he would have appreciated more hesitancy to do that.
“Maintain normalcy — I think that would be a good guiding light for us,” he said.
City Manager Charlie Bush said the declaration will allow the city to receive federal reimbursement easier if they require resources.
“We try to lean forward to protect our community as much as possible given that if we do have a significant outbreak here it could be devastating for community members,” he said.
Councilors voted 4-0 with Tenneson abstaining to move the March 23 city council meeting to online only.
Residents can access the meeting online at www.sequimwa.gov, and Bush said they may have accommodations for people to listen in the civic center lobby.
Tenneson said he plans not to attend meetings up to May because he “wants to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem” and that he’ll take vacation to a state without “a governor losing his marbles” for a month or a month-and-a-half.
He later said he was ill and asked to be excused.
Councilors also agreed to reopen the application process for Jennifer States’ council seat through April 8. Interviews were slated for March 23.
To be considered for the vacancy Sequim city council seat, applicants must be registered voters of the City of Sequim, have a one year continuous period of residence in the City of Sequim, and hold no other public office or employment under the city government.
Candidates must submit a letter of interest, resume and completed application form with answers to supplemental questions to the City Clerk at email@example.com or by regular mail to the city at 152 W. Fir St.
For more information, visit the Sequim Civic Center, call City Clerk Sara McMillon at 360-681-3428 or visit www.sequimwa.gov.
Emergency and police
City staff in conjunction with local agencies like Clallam County Fire District 3 opened the Sequim Emergency Contingency Center this week in the Transit Center to support Port Angeles’ Emergency Operations Center.
Bush said staff at the ECC can dig deeper into local issues such as childcare and other community concerns during closures.
City staff closed the civic center on Tuesday, March 17, with services available on its website.
Sequim Police Department will continue to provide essential services but non-essential services, such as finger printing and concealed weapons permits, will be suspended until further notice. In the case of an emergency call 911 and for non-emergencies, call 360-683-7227.
Billing and permits
Sequim residents can pay utilities and bills online through www.sequimwa.gov, and at the city’s pay boxes at the civic center and on the east side of the public parking lot off Sequim Avenue.
Payments can be mailed to: City of Sequim, Utility Bill Pay, PO Box 1087, Sequim, WA 98382.
With questions, call 360-683-4139.
Permits applications can be submitted to the City via its website too with contacts available by phone at 360-683-4908.
Sue Hagener, Sequim administrative services director, said the city may begin to see a difference in tax revenues come May when March’s tax revenues come in.
She said staff are continuing conversations to see what payments can be deferred, such as a Parks Master Plan to “maintain some budget flexibility.”
Hagener added that they are looking into a utility relief fund for those impaired by the economy.
This month, city staff plan to cancel other committee meetings, Coffee with the Mayor, art shows and look into refunding facility rentals.