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Council meetings move to ZOOM amid surge

This month’s meetings of the Dunkirk Common Council are being moved to ZOOM.

After conversations between the Dunkirk fire chief Mike Edwards and Councilman-at-large Paul VanDenVouver, the decision was made that in light of the recent upswing in COVID-19 cases around the area that it would be best to go that route.

“It’s been hitting us pretty hard and we do have a couple council members that tested positive for it,” VanDenVouver said Monday. “We’re going to keep this going all of January and just play it by ear. We’ll see if the cases go down; it seems we’re right back where we started a year ago with this. Our priority is the people that work in City Hall and their families and everybody’s onboard with the decision.”

Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas agreed with the decision.

“With the increase in the numbers as far as the COVID goes, I think that it was a wise decision,” Rosas said. “Unfortunately, the public will suffer as far as getting information out there and keeping them informed of the things that are going on. I think it’s good over all though because there has been an uptick in cases and more hospitalizations and I know locally there’s at least two deaths of people in their early 50s related to COVID.”

The last council meeting held Dec. 15 saw tempers flare and Rosas eventually being asked to leave as discussions over the 2021 city budget raged on. When asked about how Rosas felt about the move to ZOOM, VanDenVouver shared that he hadn’t spoken with the mayor since then.

“There hasn’t been any correspondence at all. So I sent him a certified letter from our attorney Dan Gard stating that ‘This is what we expect out of everybody, went over the Robert’s Rules of Order and this is how I’m going to conduct it and you can’t present in a professional manner then don’t show up.’ There was no discussion from that either.”

As for Rosas, he plans to attend the meeting, but whether he’ll be allowed to speak or not he’s unsure.

“I plan to attempt to get on it,” he said. “I checked with NYCOM (New York Council of Mayors) and I was informed that while they don’t have to allow me to speak they cannot ban me.”

Topics being discussed at the next council meeting will include the rise in sewer fees from $4.75 per thousand gallons to $5 per thousand gallons and the passing legislation on the rise of the $13 a quarter tipping fee that covers trash collection.

The next Common Council meeting is Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. and can be viewed on the Dunkirk Access YouTube channel.

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