On Thursday, the Greeneville-Greene County Regional Solid Waste Planning Board meeting will be broadcast on Facebook Live.
Wednesday morning, the Greene County Insurance Committee, which oversees the county employee insurance plan, met virtually via a conference call using the Zoom app.
Meeting electronically is another adaptation that local governments are making to continue operations while following both Centers for Disease Control guidelines and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order limiting public gatherings to fewer than 10 people.
For Thursday’s Solid Waste Planning Board meeting, a conference call will be set up for members of the committee to participate in the 10 a.m. session remotely.
“There may be a few committee members at the meeting place, and the session will be videoed on the town’s Facebook Live,” said Greeneville City Administrator Todd Smith. “The public will be able to view the meeting via Facebook Live.”
In addition, plans are to have the videos of the meeting posted on the town’s website for public access if there is enough bandwidth to support it, Smith said.
The Information Technology Department of Greeneville City Schools, which provides IT service for the town, is working to set up a platform to allow future meetings to be conducted through a video conference call, he said.
The Insurance Committee is the first electronic meeting for the county as it continues to explore virtual options to meet.
This type of conference call is one of the electronic means that the county is exploring to conduct governmental meetings, said Greene County Mayor Kevin Morrison.
A variety of options are being explored, including have some members of a committee in a room with others calling into the session in addition to having the pertinent elected official or department in another room with media members to ensure transparency, he said.
“Our priority is finding ways to protect public safety, while ensuring that governmental actions are open and transparent,” Morrison said. “This will allow us to continue to conduct business. We just will be doing it in another way.”
The Greene County Commission meetings as well as Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen meetings have been broadcast via Facebook Live on Radio Greeneville’s page.
The ability for local governments to adopt electronic means to conduct meetings is allowed through an executive order Lee issued Friday.
Under the Declaration of a State of Emergency made earlier this month, Lee is given authority to temporarily suspend selected state laws and rules and take other measures necessary to address the coronavirus public health crisis.
The order allows an electronic meeting rather than a quorum of a governmental entity physically meeting in a public place as required by the Tennessee Open Meetings Act “if the governing body determines that meeting electronically is necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of Tennesseans in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.”
The order sets conditions that have to be met for an electronic meeting to be allowed including that the session will be open and accessible to public attendance by electronic means. However, if live access cannot be provided through reasonable efforts, a clear audio or video recording of the meeting is to be made available to the public as soon as practical following the meeting and “in no event more than two business days after the meeting.”
The order states that existing quorum, meeting notice and voting requirements provided under law must be met and urges governing bodies to provide “clear notice of the meeting agenda and how the public can access the meeting electronically at a time and location reasonably accessible to all members of the public.”