WAMEGO, MARCH 29 -- The Wamego City Commission, in special session Sunday afternoon, adopted a resolution declaring a local state of emergency regarding the COVID-19 virus.

The resolution temporarily expands the authority of City Manager Stacie Eichem to make decisions for city operations without approval of the city commission.

The commission is not expected to meet during the month of April, in accordance with Governor Laura Kelly’s statewide “stay-at-home” executive order issued March 28 in response to the coronavirus threat.

The local state of emergency became effective immediately and remains in effect until April 30, or until the governor’s order is rescinded, whichever is later. The commission also has the authority to rescind the local declaration at any time.

The resolution reads, in part, that the city manager “is hereby vested, temporarily, with the authority to make all decisions in regard to personnel and City operations without the need to obtain Council approval for said action.”

The resolution gives the city manager the authority “to close City Facilities or suspend City operations; the authority to temporarily amend, extend, or suspend policies and procedures, including purchasing and personnel policies, of the City in response to the emergency; the authority and discretion to make decisions concerning the grant of additional leave and/or benefits to City employees; the authority to make decisions and purchases exceeding previously established purchasing authority granted by the Commission; and the authority to make other decisions deemed necessary to continue city operations and secure the well-being and safety of City employees and the public at large in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Eichem told commissioners all city employees will retain their positions during the crisis, although accommodations are being made for some. She has also asked department heads to delay major purchase requests until after the crisis has passed.

Since commissioners will not be meeting during April, they also approved completing the leaf and limb dump site south of the wastewater treatment plant.

“That’s one thing that people are anxious to get back into operation,” said Commissioner Tom Beem.

Earlier this month the commission accepted bids from Midwest Concrete Materials to remove the remaining piles of debris, to grade the site for drainage, and to cover the surface with gravel and millings.

On Sunday the commission voted to complete the project by approving MCM’s bid to install concrete bunkers to separate materials brought to the site.

Total cost of the project is expected to be around $160,000.

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