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CARES Act funding, mask mandate on council agenda

The Austin City Council will vote on a resolution accepting and allocating Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding during its next regular meeting.

According to City Administrator Craig Clark, Austin is eligible to receive $1.927 million in CARES Act funds. CARES funds are to be utilized for expenditures for responding to COVID-19 incurred between March 1 and Nov. 15, 2020, that were not accounted for in the original budget process.

The council will also vote on whether or not to approve an on-sale liquor license for Austin MN Junior Hockey, LLC.

The council will discuss whether or not to pass a local mandate requiring that citizens wear masks as part of the local response to COVID-19 during its work session following the regular meeting.

In a memorandum to the mayor and council, City Attorney Craig Byram recommended that the council “consider policy choices that may impact enforcement and compliance and choices related to locations and environments in which masks will be mandatory versus optional” should it choose to pass a mandate. He also noted that a mandate does not undermine or conflict with Gov. Tim Walz’s executive orders, stating those orders “contain language expressly recognizing the authority of local governments to be more restrictive (not less restrictive) in their efforts to control infectious diseases and respond to emergencies.”

The council’s next regular meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, July 20, in the City Council Chambers located in the basement of City Hall. The work session will take place in the Council Chambers following the regular meeting.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting is closed to the general public. It will be broadcasted beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Charter Channel 180.

Anyone who wishes to address the council must first call City Clerk Ann Kasel at 507-437-9943.

For a complete agenda, visit hwww.ci.austin.mn.us/city-council.