Silverthorne and Breckenridge make plans for local health emergencies related to coronavirus |

Silverthorne and Breckenridge make plans for local health emergencies related to coronavirus

Breckenridge and Silverthorne town councils have taken actions to empower town managers to act swiftly in an emergency health situation.
Taylor Sienkiewicz /

FRISCO — In response to the rising cases of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, in Colorado, Silverthorne Town Council unanimously passed two resolutions Wednesday that would allow budget flexibility in case of an emergency as well as electronic participation in town meetings, if the need arises.

Town attorney Karl Hanlon explained during the council work session that putting both of these resolutions in place would give council flexibility in the event of an emergency, such as a local outbreak of the coronavirus. 

Hanlon stressed the importance of the resolution allowing for electronic meetings. If there is an order from the governor that says no gathering in public places for the next 24 hours, for example, council could be in violation of the open meetings act if there was not a mechanism in place for council to meet remotely, he said.

The resolution acknowledges potential problems with video conferencing council meetings — including issues with presentations, the inability for council to read nonverbal language and general inefficiencies — and says the policy can be used only if Town Council adopts a resolution declaring a local disaster emergency or the town manager declares such an emergency. 

The second resolution allows the town manager to use up to $100,000 of town funding in response to an emergency. The resolution details that if the governor declares a statewide emergency related to the coronavirus and the town needs to expend resources not previously budgeted, the town or the town manager would be authorized to use town funds for the interest of public health and safety for the town, the state and the county. 

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Breckenridge Town Council discussed similar actions Tuesday regarding remote video conferencing. Town Manager Rick Holman said this would be brought back to council at the next work session March 24. On Thursday, the Town Council called a special meeting to discuss COVID-19 as it pertains to events and determined it would be in the town’s best interest to limit gatherings that occur on town property — or are run by the town — to 50 people, and to recommend that town businesses follow suit. 

Town attorney Tim Berry presented an emergency ordinance at the special meeting that gives Holman broad powers to do what he thinks is necessary to address public health concerns, including the authority to close any town-owned facility and to use town funds as necessary. The ordinance was passed by council unanimously. As an emergency ordinance, there will be no second reading.

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