City manager to Board of Aldermen: COVID-19 impacts on city services

It is imperative that the City of New Bern lead in setting an example of social distancing and doing our part in reducing the risk to our citizenry and minimizing the impact on our local health care providers. With cases growing in number throughout the state, the City is taking proactive measures to assist with “flattening the curve” to help protect the health and well-being of our citizens. All staff will report Monday morning for duties and work will be performed as required to continue providing our citizens with expected high levels of service. However, changes to our normal way of providing such services must be modified to ensure the protection of both our citizenry and staff.

With this said, the following restrictions and changes to normal operations will be made and placed into effect beginning March 16, 2020. Understanding that this may be initially cumbersome and outside typical business operations, we respectfully request the public’s patience with City staff. Ultimately, this modification in operations is intended to protect both the public and our staff’s health. Loss or quarantine of staff during this time could be devastating to the City’s ability to respond to public requests when needed.

Information, instructions and contact numbers will be posted at each closed facility to assist citizens and visitors with making this temporary transition simpler.

The following are modifications to operations and will stay in effect until notified otherwise:

City Hall

City Hall will be closed to the public and all business will be conducted via electronic methods such as email, fax, phone or any other virtual means to the greatest extent possible. Additionally, any necessary in-person meetings will be restricted to those initiated by City staff or Board of Aldermen only. It is requested that attendance at approved on-site meetings be limited to city staff and limited number of participants only unless otherwise arranged. Specific requests for such shall be made electronically along with the reason for

the requested meeting and a list of participants for review by staff before the meeting will be confirmed.

Meetings of Boards & Commissions

Below is a status report for most City advisory boards, commissions, and committees:

• Board of Aldermen: 3/24/20 meeting still scheduled at this point

• Board of Adjustment: 3/30/20 Meeting cancelled and business items will be

conducted at next regularly scheduled meeting on 4/27/20

• Planning and Zoning: 4/7/20 Meeting cancelled and business items will be

conducted at next Planning and Zoning meeting on 5/5/20

• Planning and Zoning: 3/26/20 Board Procedures Workshop with City legal, status

TBD

• New Bern Redevelopment Commission: 3/25 meeting cancelled, next meeting 4/8

• Community Development Block Grant (CDBG): 3/17 Public Hearing cancelled,

rescheduled date TBD

• Historic Preservation Commission: 3/18 meeting, status TBD at this point.

• Historic Preservation Commission: 4/1 meeting, status TBD at this point.

Public Safety Facilities (Fire & Police)

All public safety facilities will be closed to the public and all business considered non- emergent in nature will be conducted by electronic means beginning March 16, 2020.

If you are in need of assistance from the Police Department and it is an emergency, please call 911. If you do not have an emergency and need assistance or need to speak with someone from the Police Department regarding another matter, please call 252-633-2020.

If you are in need of the Fire Department and it is an emergency, please call 911. If you do not have an emergency and need to speak with someone from the Fire Department related to some other matter, please call 252-639-2931.

Public Utilities & Utility Business Office

The City of New Bern, Public Utilities has been closely following the COVID -19 outbreak and takes this matter very seriously. The utility will continue to provide electric, water and wastewater services throughout its duration. We do not expect any interruption with the delivery of electricity, water and/or the collection of wastewater services. However, the Utility will be implementing precautionary measures to ensure service to our customers remains reliable and of good quality standards. As a result, the Utility will be focused only on essential operations. Additionally, the utility will be closing walk-in service at the FT. Totten customer service office located at 606 Ft. Totten Drive. Customers may contact the Utility thru internet or telephone services. Payment of bills can made using direct mailings, online services, drive-thru services or the drop box at the exterior of the building. Requests for new service and other ancillary services can be arranged thru our telephone service.

In order to minimize the spread of the virus and other diseases, The City of New Bern Utilities is taking the following steps for our customers:

• Effective immediately, the Utility is discontinuing all disconnects due to non- payment for the next 30 days. Customers will still be obligated to pay for their consumption during this period of time.

• Customers may pay their bill using U.S. Mail services; City of New Bern- Payment, PO Box 63005, Charlotte, NC 28263; Online services or by using the drive-thru lanes or drop box outside of the building at 606 Ft. Totten Drive.

• We are suspending all services requiring employees to go inside a customer’s home or business to minimize risk for our customers and our employees.

• All energy audits have been postponed will be evaluated further at that time.

• Online service can be located at newbernnc.gov.

• Telephone services are available at 252-639-2750.

The Utility has plans in place to ensure employees will be able to continue to provide reliable, life-sustaining utility solutions throughout this situation. We will continue to work with our customers on a case-by-case matter to resolve any problems that they may experience regarding our services. Further updates will continue to be disseminated to our customers as the situation develops.

Parks & Recreation

The following Parks and Recreation facilities will be closed to the public until further notice beginning March 16, 2020:

o Parks and Recreation Administration o West New Bern Recreation Center

All City Parks will remain open during normal hours; however, citizens are encouraged to maintain social distancing and refrain from large group gatherings. Additionally, all organized Parks and Recreation activities, programs, special events, youth and adult sports (games and practices) held at City of New Bern Parks are suspended until further notice.

The City of New Bern Cemetery Services will continue to process requests; however, all services will be provided electronically until in-person services are required. For any questions or service requests, please call 252-639-2904

Registration for upcoming athletic seasons and programs will continue, however, schedule modifications may be necessary should impacts from COVID-19 continue.

For any other Parks and Recreation related questions, please call 252-639-2901.

Development Services & Building Inspections

City offices at 303 First Street will be closed to the general public beginning March 16, 2020. A table will be placed in the front foyer area behind the entrance doors where all permits, plans, and application packets can be dropped off along with payment (check only, no cash). City staff will routinely collect all permits, plans and applications from the desk and contact each applicant via telephone or email once collected.

All permit applications are available at the City’s website at the following address,

https://www.newbernnc.gov/departments/development_services/document_center.php

Paper copies of each permit will be available in the front foyer also.

All inspections processes will be conducted normally; however, in-person meetings will be restricted to those initiated by City staff only. The Chief Building Inspector requests that attendance at on-site inspections be limited to the inspector only unless otherwise arranged. All building and permitting questions can be directed to 252-639-2942 or 252- 639-2945. All building and inspection related paperwork can be emailed to andersonj@newbernnc.gov and submitters are requested to use project address and permit type in subject line.

All planning and zoning questions can be directed to 252-639-7581 or 252-639-7587. Additionally, all planning and zoning processes will be conducted normally; however, in- person meetings will be restricted to those initiated by City staff only. It is requested that attendance at any on-site inspections be limited to the city staff only unless otherwise arranged.

Human Resources

Human Resources office at 303 First Street will be closed to the public; however, they will continue to process employment applications. All in-person interviews will be suspended temporarily; however, other technological means of communication may still be utilized to perform interviews. Employees will still be able to access Human Resources for their needs. For any questions regarding Human Resources related matters, please contact 252- 639-7571.

These closures and procedures will be in place until rescinded and notified otherwise. For any other matters of concern or questions regarding these modifications of normal operations, please contact City Hall at 252-636-4000.

March 15th, 2020 by
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