COVID-19

Local governments easing back into real-life meetings

Virtual meetings became the default during the pandemic. Now municipal leaders are considering returning to the real world.

Kalamazoo city leaders were left scrambling 15 months ago. As the first cases of COVID-19 popped up in Michigan they could no longer meet in person. That meant a lot of technological – and legal – hurdles had to be surmounted so they could meet online.

These days online city commission meetings are the de-facto method of doing business. But it may not last much longer.

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Some city residents are eager to address the commission live and in person.

“This is no longer about protecting public health,” said resident Jeff Messer during a recent virtual meeting. “Everyone who has wanted to get a vaccination has had ample opportunity to do so.”

That has prompted city leaders to move up their timeline for moving meetings back into city hall. Commissioners are eyeing July 19 for their first in-person meeting since last year.

The City of Kalamazoo isn’t the only one. The Kalamazoo County Commission is considering moving to a hybrid model with commissioners meeting in person but accepting public input virtually as well as live.

The Portage City Council held in-person meetings last summer before moving back to virtual meetings amid the fall surge. They’re planning to return to city hall for their first meeting in July.

You can read more on MLive.

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