Coralville prepares to open City Hall to the public after extended shutdown
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The novel coronavirus pandemic has caused significant impacts to private businesses, but it's also caused trouble for the public sector.
Officials with the city of Coralville estimated that COVID-19 has cost the city nearly $2 million from its general fund. The council is working on balancing the budget with departments, and they said layoffs and a hiring freeze aren't off the table.
While the city works to start bringing revenue back in, they said they, too, need to start getting back to work in-person to serve their residents.
"I've been behind paying my water bill for a month,” Chantella White, of Coralville, said. “It's not that I can't afford it, but they were closed down."
White usually pays her water bill at City Hall every month. Once the city closed its buildings to the public, she's had a harder time doing this.
"It's better going in and paying my bills,” White said. “I worry that there could be a mix-up if I paid through the mail."
White isn't the only one who finds it easier to pay in person. Starting Monday, June 1, White and others can start going into City Hall to do their businesses again.
"People who live in apartments and need to sign up for water billing and getting recycling bins are just easier to do in person,” Kelly Hayworth, Coralville's city administrator, said.
The city's website said it will no longer accept water bill payments over the phone starting Monday.
Hayworth said the inside of City Hall was going to look a little different when White and others start to come back in. Plexiglass barriers will be in front of the receptionists to help limit viral transmission. Signs explaining how to social distance will be on display, and there will be handwashing stations.
While those precautions are going to be taken, Hayworth still encourages people to use other, off-site methods of payment if they can.
"We want everything to be safe for both our citizens and our employees," Hayworth said.
Hayworth said they had been following the Governor's Office recommendations as well as those from Johnson County Public Health.
Allowing people back inside these doors is giving people like White, who feels more comfortable paying in person, a chance to catch up on their bills.
“I’m going to pay my bill Monday morning,” White said.
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