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By Jana Hill
Mill Creek Beacon Editor 

City of Mill Creek opens slowly

Ciaravino lays out forward moving plan, gives a nod to health


Last updated 4/15/2021 at 7:44am

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The City of Mill Creek will re-open, but not quite yet.

A full opening of City Hall with onsite services, a return of employees to City office-space, and public meetings is planned for completion by June 28.

City Manager Michael Ciaravino presented a detailed re-opening process on April 13, to satisfy an April 6 request from the City Council for a report on re-opening plans.

The City of Mill Creek is a Council-Manager form of government, with policy-making in the hands of the council and management of the City in the hands of Ciaravino. The council is due to review Ciaravino's performance soon. Ciaravino had a May start-date with the City at the pandemic's beginning. His last performance review was pushed to August. He told The Beacon he is expecting a review to occur on the same schedule.

Passport services are one pressure-point for the City. The re-opening of that office comes with plans tied to City budget projections: an eventual expansion is intended to bring in more revenue, to help recover from COVID-19 impact.

"We've not been able to process passport passports remotely," Ciaravino told the Council.

He mentioned operational challenges tied to social distancing requirements, and enforcement of the mask requirements.

By June, 28, all staff is intended to resume employment onsite "with certain exceptions, subject to certain state laws, and continued positive health track."

In the April 6 meeting, Ciaravino spoke on behalf of vaccine-access challenges, and his concern for employee safety. Carmen Fisher, Mill Creek resident and city watchdog, attended the Zoom meeting April 13. During public comments, she described the zeal for a quick restart, from council members John Steckler and Vince Cavaleri, as dismissive.

"It's only going to be two days before every adult is eligible to be vaccinated," Fisher said on April 13. "We're just so close to making sure that everyone who wants it can have a treatment that is virtually 100% effective at preventing COVID deaths. So I just asked you to please show compassion and respect for city employees by allowing them to make their own reasonable choices regarding their health and their lives."

She also expressed gratitude for the city employees who are unable to do their jobs remotely.

Masks and other pandemic-protocols will be enforced once the re-opening begins, with security costs estimated at $1,500, Ciaravino told the council. Plans are underway to continue the option of online access to public meetings, through a combination of Zoom and YouTube, Ciaravino said.

Passports are not planned for a re-opening until May 31, he said, mentioning that fingerprinting is part of the service.

"We are concerned that the social distancing is required, (but) cannot be accomplished and still perform certain services and fingerprinting of individuals in connection with concealed firearms in carrying permits," Ciaravino said. "A passport staff has assisted in answering questions and providing forms while working remotely."


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