OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS ACT MODIFICATION
LIMITED VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETINGS
On March 24, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee issued proclamation 20-28, modifying how public agencies comply with the Open Public Meeting Act and the Public Records Act. In response, Benton County Fire District No. 2 is making temporary changes to how these public processes are conducted until the requirements expire, currently April 23, 2020.
Following Governor Inslee’s proclamation, public organizations are not allowed to conduct in-person meetings. A public meeting is only permitted if the attendees can participate remotely via phone or a web-based conferencing system. Since this action by its nature restricts the public oversight typically allowed by in-person meetings, the type of business that organizations may conduct is limited to what is “necessary and routine or are matters necessary to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak and the current public health emergency.” Examples of these agenda items are approval of meeting minutes, approval of payroll and warrants to be paid, hiring and employment actions, and contracts, bids, or legal matters that cannot be delayed until this restriction is lifted.
The Fire District has acquired the technology to facilitate a virtual Board of Commissioners meeting. All April 2020 regular Board of Commissioners meetings are to be hosted by Fire District No.2 through the online Zoom application. The Fire Commissioners and staff will participate by telephone or video conference. The public may attend by phone or video but will not be able to speak during the meeting. It is not practical to accommodate a public comment session during virtual meetings.
The District will publish the call-in number and Zoom meeting ID# for the public to access the meeting on the District Website (www.bcfpd2.org) or by calling the station office (509-588-3212) to obtain that information. Those wanting to use Zoom for video conferences will need to install the Zoom application on their device before the start of the meeting. The app is available at https://www.zoom.us/download or where you typically download applications for your device.
We look forward to the return of in-person meetings with our community. In the meantime, we are pleased that we have the technology to continue to conduct the people’s business during this difficult time.
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