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City and County leaders affirm guidance to address COVID-19 outbreak

Posted at 9:01 AM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 11:18:32-04

GREAT FALLS — On Monday, March 23, Great Falls City Commissioners held a meeting to affirm a local emergency in Great Falls, and to acknowledge and define the City Manager’s power to declare an emergency and the City Manager’s exercise of that authority.

As of Wednesday, March 25, there have been three cases of COVID-19 in Cascade County, and no related deaths.

The five commissioners voted unanimously to approve both Resolution 10341 and Ordinance 3217, which grants temporary authority to the City Manager to "approve contracts and expenditures in furtherance of the municipal emergency proclamation, and order and suspending state and local procurement requirements."

Documents presented at the meeting state:

  • The City’s declaration was made after consultation and conversations with Governor Bullock, Cascade City/County Health Department, Mayor Kelly, City Commissioners, and internal City staff. The City Manager exercised his authority as the principal executive officer of the City to declare, by Proclamation and Order, a state of emergency for the City pursuant to Mont. Code Ann § 10-3-402 on March 19, 2020.
  • The City Manager, as the principal executive officer, has the authority to make such a declaration when a state of emergency exists. This declaration was made to allow the City Manager to take necessary steps to help stop the spread of COVID-19, if and when it is diagnosed in the City. After such declaration is made, the City Manager is given a number of expanded authorities. One authority is to restrict ingress to and egress from all or part of the municipality. Mont. Code Ann. § 10-3- 406.
  • The City Manager is also authorized to order the evacuation of all or part of the City population. Id. Additionally, this statutory provision allows the City Manager to establish curfews for all or part of the population, as well as limiting governmental services provided to the public.
  • The City Manager also has the authority to request assistance and cooperation from other intergovernmental agencies. Mont. Code Ann. Title 10, Chapter 3, Part 2. This would require notification by all the local governmental entities to the State Emergency Services Division. The City Manager will have the authority to accept funds via grants or gifts for assisting with the emergency management from other governmental agencies. Mont. Code Ann. § 10-3-203.

Cascade County commissioners met on Tuesday to discuss a motion that would restrict Montana ExpoPark from renting its facilities to anyone for the duration of the emergency, in an attempt to align with regulations and restrictions issued to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Commissioner Joe Briggs moved that the motion be thrown out, saying that ExpoPark had been compliant with regulations and already canceled all of their events going through most of April. The other two commissioners approved the motion.

They also voted on other contracts regarding two overlay projects, and also approving the Cascade County Detention Center's decision on a bid for commissary services for the adult detention center.