Council members recite the Pledge of Allegiance during their online meeting.

SPRINGFIELD – The City Councilors met for the first time virtually on April 6 for a work and regular session meeting. The regular session included an update on the City’s response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as transferring funds to help provide care to the community and small businesses.

Following the March 16th regular session, the Council approved a resolution that transferred $100,000 from the general fund contingency into the Development and Public Works (DPW) operating budget to support the City’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Nathan Bell, finance director, said that at that time it was still largely unknown what the City’s needs would be in response, and is therefore requesting another $100,000 transfer because the original appropriation isn’t enough to carry DPW through the end of the fiscal year. 

To date, the City has spent $20,000 and the largest expenditure was portable hand washing stations and showers. City Councilor Joe Pishioneri requested to get the expenditures info in meeting packets going forward. Pishioneri moved to approve the transfer of funds and City Councilor Marilee Woodrow seconded; it passed unanimously.

The Council also approved a resolution regarding Interfund transfers for small business loans, which Pishioneri moved and Woodrow seconded, passing unanimously. On March 20th, the City granted $100,000 to Community Lending Works to fund Springfield participation in the regional Small Business Emergency Loans Fund. Funds were matched with $200,000 from Lane County and $100,000 from the City of Eugene. 

Loans were allocated on a first-come basis and five Springfield businesses received loans totaling a combined $140,000. A substantial waiting list has been generated as part of the application process.

Pishioneri clarified that there isn’t a disparity between Eugene and Springfield, and the amount of money going to Springfield won’t be less than what they put in. 

For the update on the City’s COVID-19 response, the main areas of focus include coordination with regional partners, interface with the public, local business support, staff management, community focused efforts and the emergency operations order. 

City manager Pro Tem Mary Bridget Smith said she specifically wanted council feedback on addressing vulnerable populations and communications. 

The Council said they wanted to add links to resources that they get from emails that are not public information, which could be helpful to the public, as well as adding more content on their Facebook, such as videos and pictures of what’s happening.  

City Staff has developed methods for remotely conducting business and the municipal court has shifted to a virtual platform.

The Economic Development Staff is also working with the chamber and regional partners like the County and Eugene to respond to the business community. 

Vulnerable populations, however, is a more complex area. Along with having health conditions that make the more likely to become infected with the disease, the Stay at Home Order has disrupted their “supply chain” of services for items like shelter and food. 

The three potential strategies they are implementing is the use of the Memorial Building as an emergency respite shelter and parking for families at the G Street Oasis.Other efforts include small tent sites at the Booth Kelly parking lot and adding portable showers, restrooms and hand washing facilities at various locations. 

Woodrow said that safety needs to be key with any approach, she had read that those staying at the Lane County Fairgrounds were concerned about the safety inside.

City Councilor Sean Van Gordon suggested reaching out to the county nonprofits who may be able to support the vulnerable populations as well. 

Overall, Mayor Christine Lundberg said that she was “impressed with the County and cities of Eugene and Springfield for what’s being done” as well as the engagement she has received from the Governor.