Elkhart City Council passes an emergency response ordinance

ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - The Elkhart City Council unanimously passed an emergency response ordinance at a special meeting Friday night.

The City of Elkhart crafted the ordinance to address the current COVID-19 health emergency, and how it's impacting people in the area.

"Ensure we have money set aside that allows us to immediately respond to this virus," said Mayor of Elkhart Rod Roberson.

The $500,000 will be used for any emergency situation involving COVID-19.

It will help with things like medical supplies; making sure first responders are ready to serve; and will even provide shelter for the homeless if needed.

Roberson said the money will help serve people on a greater level.

"We have no idea what is ahead of us in the days and weeks and months to come. We just want to be ready," Roberson said.

Elkhart City Council member David Henke said he is concerned about the ordinance.

"My main concern is a lack of oversight. There are no exclusions so we don't know what it could include," Henke said.

Henke also said there is already $250,000 in the budget for emergency situations and supplies, and this money can be moved from department to department.

The mayor and council members also discussed a change in the salary ordinance because of the shut down.

"Under the federal legislation, the employees of the City of Elkhart have to be paid two weeks at one-hundred percent and ten additional weeks at sixty-six percent. As a city, we are able to pay the additional 1/3 of their salary," Roberson said.

"I also don't agree with some of the funding of city employees to their maximum after the first two weeks of federal mandatory pay. I think that's a stretch when you consider the people who are paying for the services are not getting those services. Two hundred and some employees will not be performing duties, yet the taxpayer is not getting a discount," Henke said.

"They are doing their jobs. Their jobs right now is to stay home, care for their families, and allow this virus to run its course in the shortest amount of time possible," Roberson said.