Virtual meetings to continue after Supervisors green-light 120-day extension of emergency order
A&L committee will meet to discuss ordinance change
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Editor
MERRILL – The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday, July 21 meeting voted to extend the county’s emergency order, ratified in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic, by 120 days.
“The emergency declaration suspends the county board rules, which allows boards and committees to meet via teleconference,” explained Administrative Coordinator Jason Hake.
Without the extension of the order or an ordinance enacted specifically to allow for teleconferencing meetings, the board and committees would be forced to resume regular in-person meetings.
Hake said the 120-day extension would allow the Administrative and Legislative Committee enough time to draft an ordinance to specifically allow for virtual meetings to continue.
Numerous Supervisors expressed their opinions that the order shouldn’t be extended solely to allow teleconferencing, but rather an ordinance should be enacted for that specific purpose.
Among them was District 9 Supervisor Don Friske, who also echoed statements from District 8 Supervisor Christopher Heller regarding the length of the order extension.
“I as well (as Supervisor Heller) disagree with the 120 days, and I fundamentally disagree with declaring an emergency simply because we don’t have an ordinance in place,” Friske said.
Board Chair Kevin Koth pointed out that even if the order was extended 120 days, the board could choose to end it at any point within that timeframe. He also noted that the process to draft an ordinance regarding teleconferencing could potentially be complicated.
A motion to lay the agenda item over to the board’s Aug. 18 meeting, which would not have allowed the board to hold the meeting virtually, failed with an 18 to 3 vote.
A motion to amend the emergency order extension from 120 days to the Aug. 18 board meeting failed with an 8 to 13 vote.
The resolution as originally written passed with a 16 to 5 vote, meaning the board will be able to meet virtually in August, September, October and November.
“The Administrative and Legislative Committee will be meeting to discuss an ordinance change to the county board rules,” Hake stated. “This ordinance change could allow the teleconference option without the suspension of county board rules via the emergency declaration.”