Chincoteague Council Approves Relief Measures During Pandemic


By Carol Vaughn

Chincoteague officials April 6 approved immediate relief measures for residents in response to economic hardship resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I want to call to order this strange meeting of the town of Chincoteague,” said Mayor J. Arthur Leonard. The meeting was held via teleconference due to restrictions on gatherings.
There was no public comment period at the meeting, which more than 50 people tuned in to via the internet.
“That would get a lot more involved than we are set up for at this present time, so bear with us,” Leonard said of the lack of public comment.
The town council adopted an ordinance establishing procedures for electronic public meetings during the crisis.
The council voted unanimously to suspend collection and payment to the town of transient occupany taxes and meals taxes until June 10; and also to delay business license fees, boat ramp user fees, dog park user fees, and Curtis Merritt Harbor slip rental fees until June 10.
Additionally, water bills can be paid up to 60 days late without penalties or interest.
“Look out for one another…There are some people on this island that are scared, and there are some young families that are hurting,” said Councilman Gene W. Taylor.
“We do have a lot of people that are hurting. A lot of people are afraid; but we will get through this. The Lord has been good to us, and He will bring us through it. We just have to have patience and it will get better,” said Councilwoman Ellen Richardson.
She thanked the EMTs and other employees who are at work.
The board by consensus decided to advertise the fiscal year 2021 budget for public hearing as is, while knowing it likely will need to be amended later because of the pandemic’s effects.
Leonard said the town’s emergency management committee “is in conversations every day.”
“There is no playbook, so there has been a lot of discussion of what to do, when to do it, and how to implement it. It’s something that we have looked hard at,” he said, thanking Town Manager Jim West and Emergency Management Coordinator Bryan Rush in particular for their help.
The council agreed to consider extending the relief measures if necessary.
Rush said FEMA has authorized public assistance for emergency protective measures, including helping to pay for items like overtime pay or local drive-thru testing, if that should happen in the future, among others.
Rush also spoke about loans and other governmental assistance available to business owners.
“This is all new. Hurricanes, flooding, things like that — that’s down to a science — but something like a pandemic, everybody is kind of on an even keel, and we are all learning as we go,” he said.
The department “is keeping a detailed accounting of anything we are spending in relation to this,” Town Manager Jim West said.

Previous articleCarolyn Jones
Next articleWoman in Her 70s is Shore’s First Death Related to COVID-19 Virus