At Tuesday’s Becker City Council meeting, Becker Police Chief Brent Baloun shared all-hazard mitigation plans and an extension of a declaration of emergency.
All-Hazard Mitigation Plan
Police Chief Brent Baloun said he has received notice that the Sherburne County Hazard Mitigation plan update has been approved by FEMA. After review, the county adopted the plan and signed a resolution for formal documentation.
This plan, Baloun said, benefits the cities and county by identifying cost effective actions for risk reduction, agreed upon by stakeholders and the public.
“It focuses our resources on the greatest risks and vulnerabilities facing our various communities,” he said. “These events may include floods, severe thunderstorms, extreme winter conditions, wildfires, infectious diseases, power failures, terrorism, hazardous materials spills, and critical facility and infrastructure loss.”
Adopting this plan, Baloun continued, is a required condition for receiving certain types of non-emergency disaster assistance, as well as for various other mitigation projects following a disaster declaration. Some of this may include preparing and training first responders, improving the capability of residents to identify, prepare for and respond to disasters, assessing needs of jurisdictional emergency operations centers, identify and update equipment, etc.
Balloun said the next step in this process is for the cities to sign a resolution for formal documentation of the plan adoption. This document was last approved by the Becker City Council back on Sept. 17, 2013.
“Approving the plan only indicates our support of having this plan in place and does not mean that we are on the hook for any funds,” said Baloun. “It is important to note that obtaining federal dollars for anything right now is extremely uncertain, but the plan puts us (jurisdictions within Sherburne County) in a position to obtain dollars should they become available after a declared disaster.
Extension of Declaration of Emergency
Baloun said in response the COVID 19 Pandemic and the declaration of emergency by numerous communities, the State of MN and the Federal Government, the City of Becker passed Resolution 20-26 declaring an emergency in the City of Becker. This declaration was backdated and put into effect starting March 13 for a total of eight weeks; that time was set to expire Fri., May 8.
Baloun said other communities have started to pass resolutions extending the emergency declarations due to the continuation of the pandemic.
“I would recommend the city council consider the same,” Baloun said.
Some things to consider:
• State statute 12.29 allows a local authority to declare a local emergency;
• The declaration allows for numerous things to a local authority, to include: City Council meeting changes (ex: virtual meetings), emergency equipment purchases, changes to city structure and operations including changes to staffing and assignments, etc.;
• Virtual meetings, under current conditions, are preferred for the safety of all council members, staff and citizens who wish to participate and maintain a safe distance, etc.
April 13, Gov. Walz extended the Minnesota Emergency Declaration order until May 13 (Order 20-35). Recently, he passed and emergency order extending the Stay at Home Order until May 18.
Due to these changes and the fact that many businesses have continued to stay closed due to the ongoing pandemic, which includes the Becker Community Center and physically closing City Hall, an extension of the current City Emergency Declaration was necessary.
“With additional testing being completed, it is anticipated that we will continue to see the statistical numbers rise including positive test results,” said Baloun.
Tuesday May 5 the city council passed a resolution extending the Emergency Declaration for the City of Becker until May 31. It was hoped/anticipated with the Governors briefing May 13 a change would be allowed to begin the reopening of businesses and government operations. The Governor issued Order 20-56 and, while allowing some restricted openings, limited the ability of others to move forward until June 1.
“As a result, we feel it appropriate and necessary to move our already extended Emergency Declaration further down the road to ensure city government time to prepare and move things back into place for reopening,” said Baloun.
The extension is requested until June 28, however, the city council has the authority to cancel at any time.