JAL — Due to COVID-19, the Jal City Hall closed Tuesday afternoon.
City Manager Matt White said employees who work in the building were sent for testing after an employee who initially thought she was having normal sinus troubles became very ill and tested positive.
“The problem is I’ve got seven people in three little offices. They’re just crammed up without good air circulation,” White said. “So, I’m afraid if one has it, we may have all of them with it.”
The city hall may be closed for a week to 10 days, White said, unless all new tests come back negative.
“You’ve got to let it run its course,” White said. “But they say if you go a week or 10 days and get negative tests, then it’s probably negative and you’re OK.”
Jal officials closed the city hall once before, early in the pandemic days.
“What we did last time, we had another employee get it — that was back in April or May — and we were really scared of it,” White said. “So, we shut it down for nearly two weeks until we got some negative results.”
The city manager anticipates a shorter shutdown if other employees tests are negative.
“I’m thinking it might be this time next week before we can get open,” White said Tuesday. “I don’t know. We’re going to see what the tests results are. If I have a bunch of people tested and they’re all negative, then we’ll probably let them stay out a day or two and start back up there Monday.”
Ironically, meeting remotely the night before the COVID-19 was discovered at city hall the Jal City Council approved an expenditure of $1.5 million to proceed with establishing a new city hall.
White explained the city’s fiscal year 2021 budget had been prepared with an expectation of $430,000 per month in gross receipts tax revenue, but actual revenue has been more than $500,000 per month. Therefore, the council bumped the budget by $400,000 for other capital expenditures while setting aside the $1.5 million for renovation of the Burke building, formerly a school, to become the new city hall.
In other business, the council approved an ordinance increasing solid waste collection fees by about 1.15%, calculated by a Waste Management fee increase of 3% and fuel adjustment decrease of 1.85%.
Councilors also performed first readings on two other ordinances, a traffic ordinance setting rules for use of recreational vehicles on city streets and an animal control ordinance specifying requirements for restraining dogs without chaining them.
The recreational vehicle and dog chaining ordinances are to be brought back to the council at its next meeting for approval, White said.
The council meets on the second and fourth Mondays each month, with the next meeting set for Jan. 25.