Dayton closes City Hall, suspends disconnections

Dayton City Hall closed to the public on Thursday as part of the city’s continued efforts to limit city staff and members of the public to possible exposure to the COVID-19 infection.

The city’s payments centers and customer service counters will be closed until further notice, and though citizens still need to pay their water and sewer bills, disconnections have been suspended during the crisis, city officials said.

The city has canceled commission meetings for at least the next two weeks, and it has suspended all public meetings, including the city’s zoning board, landmark commission and community meetings.

After a series of crises last year, the city of Dayton is probably more prepared for this emergency than any other local jurisdiction across the country, said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

“Unfortunately, they are very good at this and have had lots of practice,” she said.

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The city of Dayton has shut down its buildings to public access, similar to steps taken by other public agencies like the Montgomery County Treasurer, the Social Security offices and countless others.

City buildings that have closed include the city’s one-stop center at 120 W. Second St., the Dayton Convention Center, the water administration building and all recreation centers, said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein.

The city says staff who are most vulnerable to the virus because of their age and health status or who have vulnerable family members at home will work remotely.

The city has modified and suspended its leave policies and will provide work flexibility for employees who have childcare or elder care needs during this emergency, and workers who are sick will stay home, Dickstein said.

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Police, fire and other emergency personnel will continue to work but will modify their operations and services and the city organization will focus on high-priority services, she said.

If the city sees a spike in absenteeism because of the coronavirus, it has plans in place to increase or enhance capacity in high-priority areas, she said.

Every department has “continuity of operations” plans that identify the minimum staffing needed to delivery vital services, she said.

“I want the community to know that we have been planning the work and working the plan,” she said.

When the golf courses close, as expected, some of those workers have skills that can provide support for public works and waste collections operations, officials said.

City employees who continue to work from city facilities have been practicing “strong” social distancing measures, including cleaning work spaces and equipment multiple times each day and holding meetings electronically, Dickstein said.

“We don’t want to create an opportunity for our workforce to be exposed unnecessarily,” she said.

Citizens who need to make payments to the city can do so by phone, online, by mail or at CVS Pharmacy or Family Dollar stores, officials said.

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Dayton provides some of the most critical public services, including police, fire and EMS and trash pickup, Whaley said, adding the other major services are health care and hospitals.

“We run three of the five essential services for this community,” she said.

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