Initial impacts of COVID-19 pandemic to Decatur economy to be discussed at next Decatur City Council meeting on April 20 at 5:30 PM
The city council will discuss 9 agenda items at its meeting on Monday. The monthly departmental reports provide a first glimpse of how the city has and will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
JOB LISTINGS IN THE DECATUR AREA DECREASE 62% IN ONE MONTH
Each month, the Economic and Community Development Department records the number of job listings in the Decatur area as reported by Indeed.com. There were 1,385 job listings in the February report compared to 522 job listings in the March report, a decrease of 62%.
LIMITED IMPACT TO CITY’S TREASURY IN MARCH. APRIL LIKELY TO SHOW SIGNIFICANT NEGATIVE IMPACTS
There is no doubt that city government will see significant negative financial impacts of COVID-19 when the April Treasurer’s Report is published on May 14. However, in the first quarter of 2020, the city has a $200,000 surplus over what was projected and $9.7 million of cash reserves (51-day cash reserve). This surplus was a result of a 3.6% decrease in expenses compared to projections.
Revenue was down 2.1% in the first quarter of 2020, and it is expected that revenue will significantly decrease beginning in April. A 20% loss in state and local sales tax, food & beverage tax, and hotel use tax for the year, would result in a decrease in revenue of $5.2 million. Moreover, as Illinois and Decatur correctly delay when taxes and fees are due, it subsequently delays when the city receives payments creating additional fiscal uncertainty.
NOT READING PUBLIC COMMENTS AT MEETINGS SENDS A POOR MESSAGE TO CITIZENS AND MAY ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO ATTEND COUNCIL MEETINGS DURING PANDEMIC
While local governmental bodies such as Decatur Public Schools are reading submitted public comments during board meetings, the city is not reading submitted comments. The city of Decatur should be doing everything possible to encourage residents to stay at home during the pandemic. Not reading citizen comments sends a contradictory message to our citizens, particularly given that the city staff present in the council chambers have the means to read citizen comments.
Furthermore, not reading public comments in the presence of the public makes city government less accountable and transparent to its citizens during this emergency and may give the impression that the decision not to read public comments is due to the content of the comments.
While public comments will not be read, the public can submit videos to be shown at the meeting. More details are below.
SHOOTINGS YEAR TO DATE ARE UP 350% - According to crime statistics published by the Decatur Police Department (https://www.decaturil.gov/police/crime-statistics/), shootings have increased substantially compared to last year. In 2020, there were 27 shootings in the first three months of the year, compared to 6 shootings in the first three months of 2019. In addition, the number of calls for service is up 11% in 2020 (13,400 calls) compared to 2019 (12,093 calls).
AGENDAS FOR CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE - An agenda to each city council meeting can be found at: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council-meetings/.
CITIZENS ARE ENCOURAGED TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK TO CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS – If you would like to discuss an issue with a city council member, phone numbers and e-mail addresses for each council member can be found at the following link: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council/.
YOU CAN WATCH THE MEETING ON THE CITY’S WEBSITE OR GOVERNMENT CHANNEL 18 - For those that do plan to attend the meeting in person, meetings take place at the City Council Chamber located on the third floor of the Decatur Civic Center (1 Gary K. Anderson Place). Free parking is available in the lot immediately south of the entrance.
CITIZEN PARTICIPATION AT THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING WILL BE MODIFIED DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC – As per the city council packet: “Pursuant to Governor Pritzker's Executive Order 2020-07 suspending the requirements of the Illinois Open Meetings Act requiring in-person attendance by members of a public body for the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation, members of the Decatur City Council and senior staff will be participating in this meeting through a Zoom video and audio link. The Mayor and essential members of the City staff will be physically present in the City Council Chambers, but pursuant to Governor's Executive Order No. 2020-10 and CDC guidelines, no more than 10 audience members will be allowed in the rear of the City Council Chambers at any one time. Members of the media have been provided notice of this and other city meetings and may be given priority to attend the meeting. However, members of the media are encouraged to view the meeting remotely on the city's live video link, available on the city's website or via Government Channel 18. To facilitate media coverage, and after the meeting, in-person city representatives will make themselves available for comments and questions using social distancing. The City Council Chambers will be open to those wishing to personally attend through the normal public entrance on the west side of the Chambers, but no more than ten (10) members of the public may be in the chambers at any one time, seating for these 10 will observe social distancing rules, and all of them must sit in the rear half of the seating area to create a separation zone between public seating and the in-person city participants of the meeting. The podium for Appearance of Citizens has been moved to the rear of the chamber. Persons arriving after 10 members of the public have already been seated will be asked to wait in the anteroom of the City Council Chambers where they can watch the live feed and wait until a seat is made available by the departure of one or more of the 10 people already in the chamber. Public comments can be emailed in advance of the meeting to the City Clerk at email@example.com, and will be provided to the City Council and others requesting them. Self-produced videos of no more than three minutes that include the name and image of the speaker, will be aired if they are received by the City Clerk by 3:00 pm on the day of the meeting and conform to the council's existing rules.”