Cordova council adopts COVID-19 response


CORDOVA — The Cordova City Council adopted an ordinance aimed at preparing the city to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak during a meeting conducted via teleconference Tuesday night.

The ordinance ratified a proclamation issued by Mayor Drew Gilbert on Monday that limited access to City Hall and other city-owned properties. The ordinance also confirmed the council's intent to "further exercise such emergency powers as are set forth under Alabama law." 

Attorney Ben Goldman informed council members that much of the language was borrowed from  the Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955 and that the ordinance itself mirrored ones being offered to other municipalities around the state by his firm, Hand Arendall LLC in Birmingham.

"These are not powers that you are exercising by the adoption of the ordinance. It gives the mayor the ability, if required by evolving circumstances, to utilize them," Goldman said.

For example, the ordinance authorizes Gilbert to close public buildings if warranted by emergency conditions, to establish a public safety curfew, to extend the time for bids, to apply for grants as they become available to recoup the city's costs for emergency management and preparedness and to accept services, equipment, supplies, materials or funds offered by the state and federal government for emergency management.

The ordinance also waives rules of procedure for meetings and authorized Gilbert to direct that meetings be held remotely.

Cordova became the first council in Walker County to meet via teleconference to conduct business, which is allowed under a State of Emergency proclamation issued by Gov. Kay Ivey last week. All seven members of the council were on the call with Gilbert, Goldman, and city clerk Leanne Dawkins. 

A section of the ordinance that stated a summary of each meeting will be posted on the city's website was amended because a new city's website is currently in development. The summary of Tuesday's meeting was posted on the City of Cordova - Government Facebook page shortly after the meeting concluded Tuesday night. 

A copy of the ordinance adopted Tuesday night and Gilbert's proclamation are also being posted at three public places around the city, including City Hall.

One of the final sections of the ordinance gave the police department the authority to enforce the proclamation as needed, though Goldman was quick to point out that the public is generally cooperating and that aggressive enforcement isn't expected to be necessary.