Mayor maintains emergency power

Yukon’s mayor can continue to issue emergency proclamations without city council approval after the panel voted to reject a proposed change that would have limited her.
The vote was 3-2 to reject an ordinance change proposed by council member Aric Gilliland.
The other council member who voted to change the ordinance was Vice Mayor Jeff Wootton.
Mayor Shelli Selby, along with council members Rick Cacini and Donna Yanda voted no.
Gilliland voiced concerns that Selby had the authority under City Ordinance 1408 to issue emergency proclamations and fine those who violated the order.
The proclamations can be issued in times of disaster or in the case of situations that might impact the health and safety of the community.
Selby issued such a proclamation earlier this summer that requires employees of restaurants and bars in Yukon to wear masks while working.
Failure to do so could result in up to three days in jail, a $700 fine or both.
Gilliland said he believes the ordinance gives the mayor too much power because the person in that position could issue any order without council approval.
Gilliland also said that the current proclamation is not the issue because he wears masks and believes others should as well.
“The current proclamation brought to light some things than I’m not sure we all understood at the time,” Gilliland said.
The council member said he believes state law gives the mayor authority to issue proclamations, but it is up to the council to authorize how they are enforced.
That is not how the Yukon proclamation ordinance works where the enforcement is already set.
“That is a standing ordinance regardless of when any new proclamation is issued, even if it is 20 years down the road. I feel that should be in reverse order,” Gilliland said.
That could be done, he said, by calling an emergency meeting of the city council.
However, Yanda said calling an emergency meeting might not be possible during a disaster, such as a tornado hitting the community.
The council must have a quorum, which is three of the five members, to conduct business.
An emergency meeting requires 24 hours notice and the agenda must specify why the meeting is being held.
“I want us to discuss this because I think it is a serious authority that we have given our mayor,” Gilliland said.
Gilliland also said that it is now possible to hold meetings remotely, with members who are unable to attend in person to attend via telephone or computer.
The concern, he said, is that the proclamation has punitive aspects and one person made the decision to issue it without input from other council members.
Selby pointed out that the current proclamation, which remains in effect, does have a wide-ranging penalty clause, going from zero dollars to $700.
She also pointed out that no one has been cited or fined under the current proclamation.
Police Chief John Corn said his officers have responded to four complaints, but has not issued any citations.
“It is from a warning to $700. I’m not sure how much broader we can get with that,” Selby said.
Gilliland suggested that his proposed changes would have done three things: create an expiration date, because the current ordinance does not have one; enforcement of a proclamation would require a new ordinance; and require an emergency council meeting to discuss enforcement.
“I truly feel like if it is important enough to bind people, … it is important enough to have a council meeting about it,” he said.

Leave a Comment