Goskagit

MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon City Council met online for the first time Thursday, fulfilling Gov. Jay Inslee’s order prohibiting in-person government meetings.

The council ratified Mayor Jill Boudreau’s three recent emergency executive orders that closed city buildings to the public, closed parks and the library, and extended operations at a winter homeless shelter until April 25.

Boudreau also said the city will not charge late fees on utility bills through the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Closing City Hall and other city offices to the public will limit opportunities for the coronavirus to spread, the executive order reads.

In the meantime, Boudreau said staff have been given instructions to work from home.

Limited public access is permitted at the police station and the city’s three fire stations when necessary, according to the order.

Boudreau also proposed a 30-day freeze on both hiring and non-essential spending, which members of council supported.

“Anything that’s not an essential purchase, we should hold off on,” Councilmember Mark Hulst said.

Boudreau said the city will continue to try and fill positions in IT and the fire department, because they’re seen as essential services.

“Hiring is pretty much impossible now anyway,” Boudreau said, adding the pandemic is making it harder to find and interview candidates.

The council voted unanimously to accept financial assistance from Skagit County to sanitize public restrooms. The money is coming from a recent state Department of Commerce emergency grant.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH

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