1230 city council

Anacortes City Hall.

Anacortes City Hall, the library and the museum will remain closed and the City Council will continue to meet electronically through March 31.

The City Council voted unanimously Monday to extend for 90 days an earlier resolution, No. 2082, which established a city response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The council’s vote was the fourth extension of the resolution to help prevent the spread of the acute respiratory virus.

Residents can pay utility bills, acquire licenses, submit permit applications, contact staff, and transact other city business via email, online and telephone. They can also participate in council meetings electronically and can watch them on Channel 10, the city website and YouTube.

Mayor Laurie Gere was absent Monday, leaving Mayor Pro Tem Bruce McDougall to preside in her place. Council member Ryan Walters was unable to participate in the meeting because of internet connectivity issues, so the council excused his absence.

City Clerk/Finance Director Steve Hoglund noted that the pandemic resolution can be revoked by the City Council and in-person public meetings restored prior to March 31 if conditions warrant it.

“That’s what we’re all hoping for and looking forward to,” he said.

Extension of the resolution came amid some grim COVID-19 statistics that showed 1,009 Skagit County residents tested positive for COVID-19 from Nov. 27 to Dec. 27 — nearly one-third the total for the entire year, McDougall said.

Seven Skagit County residents died during that time, bringing the county’s total COVID-19 fatalities to 33.

“(There’s been) a big surge in the county as well as in the rest of the country,” McDougall said.

Year to date as of Monday, Island Hospital had tested 9,958, with 180 testing positive and 28 patients admitted for treatment, McDougall said. There have been no COVID-19 deaths in Anacortes.

The city earlier this year froze hiring and scaled back on spending due to the pandemic’s economic impacts.

Council member Anthony Young commended the mayor, council and staff for the work they’ve done during the pandemic — chief among that was crafting a $75.4 million budget for 2021 that keeps key projects, such as road improvements and broadband fiber installation, on track; and a plan to invest $147 million in capital improvements over the next six years.

“It’s been a Herculean task but one that was done exceptionally well,” Young said.

McDougall agreed. “The city and City Hall and staff have all pulled together wonderfully in a very difficult year,” he said. “Here’s hoping that 2021 is a much better year.”

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