Council President Roy Avellaneda said his quick action to cancel Council sessions this month will continue in the near future, even for online meetings, as he doesn’t want to compromise the health of councillors.
“We will have an online meeting at some point, but I’m giving no date,” he said. “I really don’t want to call the Council together to meet right now unless it is something that really needs Council action and is called for by the City Manager. I really don’t want to jeopardize the health of any other city councilors.”
Avellaneda had canceled a meeting in March right off the bat when the pandemic started to get real, and said while many communities have had online meetings in the interim, he feels like it isn’t a good idea in Chelsea given the numbers of cases that are appearing.
He said there will come a time when they need to start talking about the City Budget, but there is plenty of time before that begins to happen.
“The budget doesn’t need to be approved until June, so we have a lot of time before then,” he said.
While councillors are not meeting, Avellaneda said they are all in close contact by phone or internet, and most are participating in the daily 4 p.m. City update.
Others are helping to deliver food to needy families, and others are routing calls from constituents to the proper places for services.
“We may not be meeting right now or coming together, but residents can rest assured that their councillors are working harder than ever,” he said. “We as a body are very busy trying to help and fill a role wherever it’s needed.”
He did say he is worried about the future finances of the City, and predicted there would trouble in the City Budget. Many hotels and restaurants are not able to pay excise or room occupancy taxes because they are either closed down or running very slowly. Those payments make up a large part of the City Budget, as do other revenues and collections.
“When you take on the role of Council President, there are all of these things you think you want to do and that you will have on the agenda,” he said. “There is no way to predict what will come up though. There’s no way anyone could know this issue would come up and we’d have to deal with it. Now it’s not only putting it on the agenda, but we have to figure out how this will have a negative impact on our finances. Obviously it hit our hotels and restaurants. We will feel that.”