Meeting via Zoom, Mt. Gilead Town Board members debated the pros and cons of having Town Hall open to the public during the current pandemic, noting the continuing rise in COVID numbers in Montgomery County. Town Hall closed to the public early in the pandemic but later reopened to the public. They closed to the public again during the Christmas holiday, with plans to revisit the decision in mid-January.

Newly hired town manager, Hiram Marziano, presented the board with a variety of options to consider including: 

• Remain Closed to the Public: This action would continue the current status quo. This action maximizes the Town Hall staff’s ability to continue to provide services to the town with minimal risk for interruptions in that service.

• Zoom Office Hours: I could hold regular windows of time each day or at some interval where we would post a zoom link and people could meet with me and discuss their concerns or ask questions.

• Utility Payment Receipts: As mentioned above, we can return utility receipts directly to customers at the front door or if we are able we can email them. Any overages will be applied to their next balance due and will be represented on the bills sent out.

• Flex Schedules/Alternating Schedules: We could have those in the office alternate schedules so as to limit internal exposure. This could be in the form of alternate days or half-days. This way, should an exposure happen, the likelihood of everyone’s needing to quarantine is lessened. For example: Employee A works 8-12 and Employee B works 1-5 daily. This option would be with Town Hall open to the public. Further, this option will have financial impacts on the employees as they will be reducing their work hours.

• Limited Office Hours for the Public: We could limit the hours Town Hall is open to the public. For example, we could accept the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Employees would still work their normal hours.

• Telecommuting: Those positions capable of telecommuting could do so in the event of exposure or in an attempt to limit exposure, either on a daily or semi-regular basis. These positions currently only include me and the town clerk. We could alternate our days in the office to minimize exposure and reduce the risk of interruptions of service to the public.

For the full story, see the January 13 issue of the Montgomery Herald.