STOW – City Hall was open for elections, but those were canceled by Gov. Mike DeWine late March 16, and the city building will be closed beginning March 18.
"We left City Hall open for voting but things changed," said Mayor John Pribonic. "The landscape will change all the time. We are receiving information hour by hour and that will dictate what we do."
Beginning March 18 residents can enter the atrium area between the sets of doors to City Hall and call a number for pickup mail, couriers and plans for planning commission, but people will not have access to the building to walk around, he said.
The special meeting called by Councilman Cyle Feldman on Wednesday at 7 p.m. to discuss the budget will be limited to 50 people, Pribonic said. Paramedics will be checking people in and ask questions so everyone is safe.
The budget had a first reading, but council did not vote on it at the March 12 meeting because members wanted to discuss it more. The budget needs to be approved by April 1, but the coronavirus and closing of the City Hall canceled the two scheduled meetings on March 26 and 31.
"A budget is fluid, and this closing shows you what can happen in days and hours," Pribonic said. "The numbers in the budget will have to be adjusted because of this crisis. We’ve never lived through a time period like this. It’s a learning process."
The budget has a $6.3 million carryover, but Pribonic said the city wants to be fiscally responsible.
"We’ll look at different things such as whether to buy this truck or not," he said. "When we come out of this, we want to be financially stable."
Just because the budget allocates certain funds for projects and expenses doesn’t mean it can’t be distributed differently if needs arise, Pribonic said.
"Things are changing at such a rapid pace, we don’t want to go too far out because we don’t know what will happen or change, he said.
Pribonic said he’s been talking with other mayors and officials in Summit County through conference calls and will talk with them again on Friday.
"We’re being left to make our own calls," Pribonic said. "It’s good and bad. Each city is different and operates differently."
Pribonic said although some city staff will work remotely from home, the city will provide the same resources.
The Charter Review Committee, which meets every five years, will have copies of the charter and work through teleconferencing to eliminate face-to-face contact, he said.
Residents can go to the city website at https//stowohio.org and sign up for the city newsletter, which will distribute information to emails.
"We want to get the word out in different ways so everyone can receive it, he said.
Residents can call City Hall at 330-689-2700 with questions. The phone line will be monitored over weekends. Call 9-1-1 for emergencies.
"We’re going to make sure no matter what the need is, we’ll make proper connections to make it happen," Priobonic said. "Our job as a city is to provide any services to our residents even if it’s out of the ordinary."
Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org