As the community feels the wrath of COVID-19, local municipalities are being forced to adjust their services, hours of operations and meeting schedules to abide by executive orders and keep residents safe.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “New York on Pause” executive order closed all non-essential businesses Sunday. Excluded from the order are essential health care, infrastructure, manufacturing, retail and services; the press; providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations; construction; defense; essential services for maintaining safety, sanitation and operations of residences or businesses; and vendors that provide essential services or products such as logistics and technology support, child care and services.
On March 7, Cuomo suspended Article 7 of the Public Officers Law “to the extent necessary to permit any public body to meet and take such actions authorized by the law without permitting in public in-person access to meetings and authorizing such meetings to be held remotely by conference call or similar service, provided that the public has the ability to view or listen to such proceeding and that such meetings are recorded and later transcribed,” according to governor.ny.gov.
The county office building is not locked to the public, Greene County Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said, although the traffic is minimal.
“Most of it is closed down,” he said. “Many county employees are working from home.”
Employees of the District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office and Probation Department are working from home. The Public Health Department is split between the Emergency Operations Center and working from home. The Mental Health Department is able to offer some services by phone and is still administering medications to patients.
“The county administrator’s office is operational,” Linger said. “The senior centers are operational for take-out and meals on wheels.”
The Department of Motor Vehicles is closed and only online transactions are permitted.
Buildings and Grounds is operating at 100%, Linger said, adding that the staff is hard at work sanitizing the facility.
The Catskill Police Department is open and fully staffed, Village President Vincent Seeley said, and the Department of Public Works is on rotating shifts, half staffed.
“All other departments are not open to the public but the public can leave a message as we are manning the phones remotely,” Seeley said.
The village of Coxsackie is also reducing staff, Mayor Mark Evans said.
“We have one clerk working each day, rotating among the three of them,” Evans said. “We have staffed down the water and sewer plant to one person per day. We staffed down the public works department to two people. We are staffed down as much as possible while still being able to maintain operations.”
The police department and ambulance is still fully operational, Windham Town Supervisor Thomas Hoyt reported Tuesday.
The following town and village halls are open by appointment only: Cairo, Hunter (town and village), Tannersville, Windham, Athens (town) and Coxsackie (village.)
The Legislature will most likely meet via conference call or video conference, Linger said.
“We’re going to avoid meeting in person,” he said. Linger was unsure if the meetings will be live-streamed, he said. The press will be notified with details on how to access the meeting, Linger said, adding that the information will also be on the county’s website.
Wednesday’s Catskill village board meeting has been canceled. In lieu of a meeting on Wednesday, the trustees will be giving an update via conference call. Residents can tune in at 1-971-358-7296 using the pin 29990. The call will begin at 7 p.m.
Trustees are still working on figuring out a protocol for meetings going forward, Seeley said.
The town of Coxsackie will be holding meetings via teleconference and advertising the phone number to citizens on the town website, Town Supervisor Richard Hanse said Tuesday.
“I think this is going to be the way a lot of meetings are going to have to be done, unfortunately,” Hanse said. The town of Windham will also be using a teleconference system and making the number available to residents, Town Supervisor Thomas Hoyt said.
Meetings will be held remotely, Cairo Town Supervisor John Coyne said Monday, with audio being live-streamed on the town website.
The village of Coxsackie is still working out how to handle meetings during the outbreak.
“We have a budget coming up that has to be passed by May 1,” Evans said. “We will probably phone conference, that type of thing. Until further notice there will be no in-person meetings. We’re not quite sure how to include the public yet. We’ve received no directive from the state how to handle this. We’ll have to figure something out.”
The Athens village board will meet on Wednesday via video conference.
Some towns that are meeting during this time are opting to have “limited agendas” with basic items such as approving minutes and paying bills. Windham’s meeting on Wednesday, Durham’s meeting on April 7, Greenville on April 2 and the meeting New Baltimore held on Monday night followed this procedure.
New Baltimore’s meeting was videotaped and featured on Channel 901 on Mid-Hudson Cable, Town Supervisor Jeff Russo said.
“We didn’t have any major, more substantial conversations,” Russo said. “We just had to get basic work done.”
The town clerk expected to have minutes available the following day, Russo said.
“We’re playing it by ear for the next meeting,” Russo said.
Hunter Town Planning Board Meeting April 7.
Hunter town meetings until further notice.
Hunter Village Board Meeting April 13.
Coxsackie Town Board meetings for March 26 and April 2.
Tannersville meetings postponed until further notice.
Catskill town meetings through March 31 canceled.
Catskill Village Planning Board public hearing for Stewart’s has been re-scheduled for April 20.
Athens Village public hearing for March 25 rescheduled for April 22.
Town court has been canceled until further notice in Durham, Tannersville, Windham. Court is postponed until May 5 in New Baltimore and court for March 26 in the village and town of Catskill is canceled. Individuals needing to pay fines to Catskill court may do so online at townofcatskillny.gov/court or by mail at 441 Main Street Catskill for Town Court or 422 Main Street Catskill for Village Court.