The Jamestown City Council meeting on Monday, April 6, will go on as scheduled, although all council members will participate by phone, according to Sarah Hellekson, city administrator.
The public can access the meeting by calling 877-885-3221 and using conference code 8007228#. The meeting is also available on Cable Services channel 67. The Cable Services feed will provide audio only of the meeting.
"Phones from the public will all be muted," Hellekson said. "If we open those phones everyone in the meeting would be hearing the background noise from every call."
All members of the City Council will participate over the phone along with the city administrator and city attorney.
Hellekson said people wanting to submit comments to the City Council can do so by calling City Hall at 252-5900. They must provide their name, address and any information they want to provide to the council to a person rather than by leaving a message. Comments can also be submitted by email at info@Jamestown.ND.Gov.
Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said the sound equipment in the City Council chambers is not current.
"City Hall has a technological deficit with the equipment we have for communicating," he said. "This is not probably going to be as ideal as we would want it to be. We'll have to upgrade in the future."
A virtual meeting is possible after the state of North Dakota waved some public meeting requirements as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
"(The) public entity may need to be creative to comply with public health recommendations while still preserving the public’s right to access the meeting, such as live streaming, video conferencing, or use of other technology resources,” said North Dakota attorney general Wayne Stenehjem in a press release posted to the agency's website.
The Jamestown City Council passed its own ordinance allowing council members to participate by phone earlier this winter when Councilwoman Pam Phillips was sidelined by a surgery. She participated in several meetings over the phone.
"This is going to be different," she said, referring to the fact all five members of the City Council will participate by phone. "Then, the whole world is different right now."
Phillips said participating in a meeting by phone is more difficult.
"I missed the interaction," she said. "I like looking people square in the eye to see what's going on."
Hellekson said the plan is to hold virtual meetings until officials end any requirements for social distancing in the community. That means the April 14 Board of Equalization meeting will likely be held virtually.
The public can comment on and question the valuations set by assessors on their property during the Board of Equalization meeting.
Hellekson said all phone lines would be open during that meeting to allow more access for the public to comment.
"We'll get done what we have to do," Heinrich said. "Just not in the manner we are used to."
Information on phone numbers and codes necessary to access the meetings is available at www.JamestownND.gov.