St. Charles aldermen extend city’s state of emergency because of pandemic

Discussed the issue at length during Monday’s meeting

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began last March, aldermen have been routinely extending the declared state of emergency within the city’s limits.

Aldermen did so again on Monday as part of a unanimous vote, but first debated the issue.

“I’m wondering why this is still necessary?” asked 2nd Ward Alderman Rita Anne Payleitner.

In response, St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina noted the state has not yet reached phase 5 of the Restore Illinois plan. In phase 5, testing, tracing and treatment are widely available throughout the state and either a vaccine is developed to prevent additional spread of COVID-19, a treatment option is readily available that ensures health care capacity is no longer a concern or there are no new cases over a sustained period.

As of Monday, 4.24% of Kane County’s population has been fully vaccinated. When the state reaches phase 5, all sectors of the economy can reopen with new health and hygiene practices permanently in place.

“I think we’re just kind of staying in line with the state of Illinois,” Rogina said. “And at such time we get kind of the all clear from the state of Illinois, it would be great and we wouldn’t have to do this.”

Payleitner said she doesn’t see the need for the city to continue extending the state of emergency ordinance. She noted that as a result of Kane County moving into phase 4 of the state’s plan, in-person public meetings have resumed and that up to 50 people can attend the meetings.

“It’s just a sense of optimism for our city, that’s all,” she said.

Rogina said he too is optimistic.

“I think we’re going to see real light at the end of the tunnel between now and say June or July in terms of our ability to get back to some degree of normalcy,” he said.

Payleitner also wondered about the need for the city’s meetings to be on Zoom.

“In theory, we use Zoom because there’s fear of the pandemic,” she said. “I’m guessing that of the however many people I see on here, maybe two really fear the pandemic.”

Officials also discussed whether the city would still qualify for federal assistance, such as the CARES Act, if it wasn’t in a state of emergency.

“If we’re not in a pandemic state, why should we take any government money?” Rogina asked.

Fifth Ward Alderman Maureen Lewis said she thought the issue was worthy of discussion.

“Regardless, I think it’s a healthy conversation,” she said. “For months, we’ve never asked the question, we never had the conversation. So I think it was a good thing to have a healthy conversation about it so it’s not just a rubber stamp. I think we owe that to the public.”

Eric Schelkopf

Eric Schelkopf covers St. Charles and writes entertainment stories for the Kane County Chronicle.