The Aiken City Council passed an emergency public attendance ordinance and an emergency small business recovery loan in relation to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic during its meeting Monday night.

The public attendance ordinance will only allow for members of boards and commissions, essential city staff, the city media specialist, legal counsel, the news media and those who have official business with the boards and commissions to be present in city council chambers and/or other meeting areas.

The meetings will be available to the public via livestreaming from the city's YouTube channel, and an email address will be set up as and will be monitored before and during meetings by Assistant City Manager Kim Abney.

Abney will come to the lectern and read any emails that have been presented into the record for a particular item.

The emergency ordinances will go into effect immediately and will remain in place for 61 days unless terminated or extended.

Council additionally voted to pass an emergency small business recovery loan in order to better assist Aiken's small businesses during the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tim O'Briant, the city's economic development director, has been discussing loan options with business owners.

"There's a lot of interest in this program and a lot of need in our community," O'Briant said.

Other business

Council voted to continue the discussion on the Department of Water and Sewer Utilities to replace two F250 pickup trucks and a flatbed truck.

Council decided discussing the issue further would be best in order to see what the economic impact of the coronavirus will be on the City's CPST IV taxes, which will fund the cost of the vehicles. 

The department originally asked to replace all three vehicles with $114,700 allocated in the department's FY 2019-20 budget. 

The purchases of the two F350s meant that the department would have to put aside the purchase of a CASE backhoe machine in the amount of $64,260 in order to afford the flatbed truck.

Additionally, Council approved the concept plan on the Aiken Mall redevelopment that plans to turn the current building into 260 multifamily apartments in eight buildings with the request to permit a minimum of 15% open space instead of 25% that was in the previous concept plan.

This plan will now go back to the city Planning Commission for approval before returning to City Council for a second and final reading during the April 27 meeting.

Council also approved a concept plan for six single-family townhome units on Grier Court.