The doors may be closed, but Molalla City Manager Dan Huff makes it clear that the city of Molalla is open for business — with the proper adjustments for the current pandemic.
"For the most part, we are operating," said Huff. "Our police department and public works crews are going to work with protocols and safety equipment in place. A lot of things are a little bit delayed, but they are working."
That means people in Molalla will still see a street sweeper going by, police officers on patrol, and other aspects of city life continuing — with safety protocols in place.
"At City Hall, if you call, we are answering the phones," said Huff. "If you send me an email, we are going to respond. We are business as usual for the most part. Things are somewhat slow, but that's probably not surprising."
Water treatment plant work has been delayed, due to material delivery slowdowns, which required the city to amend some contracts on the project, "but we are plugging away and making sure we are providing service to the folks that pay their tax dollars and their fees," Huff said.
And while locals are working their way through the here and now that the pandemic has forced upon the country, Huff has his eyes on what may be an issue down the road.
"What's interesting, when you think about all the programs from the state or federal government — no evictions, checks for citizens, all those things, you know who provides essential services throughout this county? It's the local governments," he said. "There are some exceptions, but it's more or less local government that provide these essential services and there's no assistance for local government coming out.
"We are saying we are not going to shut your water off if you don't pay, but that could eventually (if the pandemic continues for a while) be a problem for some cities. I'm not complaining, just looking out in the future a little bit. These are costs that we weren't planning for that are coming up."
If the pandemic continues for a length of time, folks not paying their bills could bump up against the costs of running facilities. No money coming in, while money is being spent to run things — there could be an issue down the road.
But that's to be determined in the future. In the here and now, Molalla City Hall is at work as best it can. Staffers who are at work are comfortably distancing from each other; others who are out, are taking proper precautions.
Huff noted that there were some layoffs of part-time employees within the city, as well as a few employees that are working from home. But for the most part, the city is manned and working, albeit in a little different way.
Huff said that public works isn't getting a lot of service calls right now, so with a little more time available, the city is getting to some projects that normally don't get a lot of time allocated to them.
"Folks in Molalla are going to see their city still working and I think that's important," said Huff, who added that the city's websites have plenty of good information on them.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.