ALEDO — Monday night the council heard measures being taken at city facilities to minimize contact — with each other and the public — to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

City Administrator and Aledo Chief of Police Chris Sullivan explained the temporary procedure.

He said city departments will be conducting business with each other through email or by phone. “We’re trying to make sure that if we have an issue with any one of the departments it doesn’t shut the whole city down. We’re being careful we don’t both put the public at risk from our contact with them and that we don’t contaminate the facility.”

Access to all city facilities, including city hall and Aledo Police Department will be closed to the public. City operations will continue to run with staff available to provide services and answer questions by phone or email. The police department will maintain its normal patrol duties and officers will be available 24/7 - as always. CIty hall phone is 309-582-7241, APD phone is 309-582-2331.

City hall services requiring in-person assistance will be suspended or made available online. Permits can be applied for online at aledoil.org.

Bill pay can be made via the city drop box, online, or by phone.

“We’re going to limit that contact to only what has to be made, because if any of our staff become ill, we don’t want to have to quarantine the entire city (staff), because no matter what else happens we’re still responsible for providing basic functions of government,” he said.

The police department lobby will be open only to those requiring in-person assistance, otherwise individuals can call the office.

Daily procedures for city employees include sanitizing each morning to begin a shift, emphasizing basic hygiene, if an employee leaves the building they must wash hands upon re-entry.

March 18 in an emergency meeting, the Aledo city council passed an ordinance allowing the mayor to have “emergency powers” since Governor JB Pritzker declared a “state of emergency” in Illinois on March 9.

According to the ordinance it expires at the closing of the first regular meeting of the city council following the declaration of the state of emergency, “If the next scheduled regular session of the City Council cannot be held, because conditions make it unsafe or impractical to hold a meeting, or because a quorum of the City Council is not present at the appointed time for its meeting, the state of emergency shall continue until such time that a quorum of the City Council can convene, provided further that the mayor may, at any time, declare that the state of emergency has ended,” the document states.

Mayor Chris Hagloch said this means the council doesn’t have to wait 48 hours to hold a meeting and act on any emergencies. “I can now act on behalf of the city. I will still be contacting the council so they are aware of the situation and what we are planning on doing, and I will be asking them to ‘ok’ my decision.”

“The aldermen had quite a large discussion on it concerning this situation and putting me in power, and I totally understand that. That’s a big responsibility for myself and my community.”

He said there are no plans to take away gun-owners rights, among residents’ concerns of possible overreach of mayoral powers.

“We have no reason to do any of those things. The main reason for this tonight, is if we have to have an emergency meeting … . In case we needed to close a facility, or do some kind of emergency relief in the city of Aledo.”

Meetings originally scheduled to be held in city hall chambers are canceled or postponed.

“There wasn’t any business that had to be conducted immediately that couldn’t be dealt with without a meeting,” Sullivan said.

He said they will go back to business as usual as soon as they’re able.

The council approved two TIF (Tax Increment Financing) projects vetted by the city’s economic development firm, 353 Court. Aldermen agreed to use to pay 50% of project costs for two downtown businesses through the city’s Downtown Revitalization Program approved last fall. The program provides forgivable loans for building improvements in Aledo’s downtown.

Ferg’s Pub House will get $3,319 for replacing front door, front windows and a backdoor.

Mercer County Family Eye Care resides in the other downtown building approved for work, at 106 S. College Ave., owned by Dr. Timothy P. Arbet. The city agreed to pay $2,888.86 toward a new heating system.

In other business, the council:

- Approved official zoning map for 2020.
- Approved an ordinance to establish procedures for public comments during city meetings to compy with state law.
- Approved a resolution to lease farm ground to Rick Gillespie at two locations, $700 for eight tillable acres, and $300 for four tillable acres.
- Approved an continuing an agreement with Strand Associates for water system engineering support services at $10,000 for 2020.
- Heard a proclamation from Mayor Chris Hagloch observing Junior Achievement Day on April 2 urging the community to join in Junior Achievement’s effort to ensure the future success and economic health of young people.
- Accepted the resignation of Jared Conaway from his position as full-time police officer.
- Approved hiring Jackie Brown as full-time police officer. Officer Brown has served in a part-time capacity for the Aledo Police Department for a year.
- Appointed Jacob Friden to Water/Wastewater Superintendent.
- Approved purchase of a John Deere X730 riding tractor mower with a 48” mower deck for $9,321 from Martin Sullivan, Inc. Aledo. The equipment was budgeted for this year.