As a public service, Shaw Media will provide open access to information related to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency. Sign up for the newsletter here
Joliet will close City Hall to the public at the end of business Friday, joining a growing list of cities and villages taking the same action to limit spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Mayor Bob O'Dekirk on Thursday announced the decision along with other measures being taken to deal with the threat of coronavirus.
"I want to stress the city remains in business," O'Dekirk said. "This is not going to interrupt operations at all."
The city will set up a kiosk at the front lobby of the police station, located across Washington Street from City Hall, to accommodate people who need to pay water bills and make other payments in person.
But Joliet is encouraging people to pay bills online. Earlier this week, the mayor announced that the extra charge for credit card payments would be applied to next month's water bills.
Staff will continue to work at City Hall, but public access is being shut off as a precaution against spreading the coronavirus.
"We're not closing down operations, but we're trying to limit the contact," O'Dekirk said.
The mayor announced other measures at the second press conference held this week aimed at putting out information about developments related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Other new developments include:
• Waivers of late fees and interest for businesses unable to make on-time payments on city fees and taxes;
• The addition of a resource page on the city website, joliet.gov, to provide helpful information for senior citizens related to the coronavirus;
• Suspension of door-to-door visits by U.S. Census workers following up on census surveys sent out earlier this month.
O'Dekirk also said the city expects to take a financial hit because of the numerous business shutdowns related to the virus, including temporary closings of Harrah's Casino and Hollywood Casino.
"Financially, the city of Joliet like other municipalities is going to take a big it," the mayor said. "Our budget has basically been blown up."
O'Dekirk said the city has a $50 million reserve fund that will be used to cover expenses as tax revenue falls off.
The city will refer people to those agencies instead of trying to develop its own help network as had been discussed earlier in the week.
"These are coordinated efforts being taken," O'Dekirk said. "What we don't want to at City Hall is step on other people's toes."