Denton City Council members on Tuesday will consider extending a declaration of disaster until June — but doing so would have no impact on the governor’s order to reopen Texas.
On March 2, Greg Abbott issued the order that allows businesses to reopen at 100% capacity and lifts the statewide mask ordinance. It went into effect on March 10, superseding Denton’s 11th Order of Council, which required businesses here to maintain and post health and safety plans.
Abbott’s order prohibits cities and counties from adopting ordinances requiring wearing face coverings. The city of Denton did not have such an ordinance. Still, some stores here have posted signs that tell customers the municipality requires them to wear masks.
The 11th order is scheduled to expire on March 31. Meanwhile, the city has created three signs businesses may post on their doors if they require customers to wear masks. And Denton officials encourage business owners to do that and to continue to post their health and safety plans — although they are not required to do so.
Extending the city’s declaration of disaster would allow Denton to continue receiving state and federal funds to lessen the impact of COVID-19 on residents and businesses. The extension would give Denton interim City Manager Sara Hensley the authority to spend $3.5 million in that effort.
Mayor Gerard Hudspeth's declaration, issued on Feb. 19 — just days after a winter storm prompted rotating power outages from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and boil-water notices from the city — allows for waiving plumbing permit fees for emergency repairs, reapplication fees for plats listed on the Feb. 17 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting agenda that were voluntarily withdrawn, a recalculation of water use from March 2021 through February 2022 based on the December 2020 and January 2021 consumption; and bill adjustments for customers who had substantial increases in water use during Feb. 14-28 caused by damage to pipes.
The council work session is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday, followed by the regular meeting. City spokesperson Ryan Adams said council members will, for now, continue to meet virtually.
“It’s really hard to say when that will change,” he said. “It is a discussion we plan to have with the council.”
City documents show that the state’s suspension of the Texas Open Meetings Act to allow for online government meetings “was done outside of an executive order, still is in place for now” and offers no timeline for when that could change.