The Hamilton County Commission and Chattanooga City Council are taking different approaches to conducting meetings amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
After Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order giving municipalities and localities the authority to host and conduct business in virtual meetings late last week, the city announced its first teleconferencing public meeting, while the county is planning to continue in-person meetings.
City council has canceled this week's meetings, but has scheduled its first electronic meeting to take place on March 31 at 6 p.m., in light of Lee's decision.
According to Chairman Erskine Oglesby, the meeting will take place through the Zoom teleconferencing platform, allowing members of the council, staff and the public to "attend" remotely. Oglesby said the council will ultimately get back to regular business, but that the first meeting will be picking up on business that has been deferred during the outbreak and will not allow public comment or participation, though viewing will be available.
On the other hand, commissioners will meet Wednesday morning at their regular 9:30 a.m. time slot in the county courthouse. According to Pro Tem Chip Baker, the commission will only have five members present, the minimum required for a voting quorum of the nine-person body, and will limit staff presence and will follow physical distancing and other health guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.
Baker said the commission has considered online meetings but is "not there yet" with the technology arrangements to accommodate commissioners, staff and the public.
As always, the commission meeting will be live streamed on the Hamilton County's YouTube page.
To connect to the city's live meetings, go to chattanooga.gov/city-council to participate in the live meeting.
Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.