City of Cortland Common Council to return to in-person meetings

City of Cortland Common Council. (Photo from Cortland Voice 2020 Photo Archives).

The city of Cortland Common Council is returning to in-person meetings starting on July 20, but the number of spectators allowed at the meetings remains to be seen.

It’s been 17 months since the Common Council last met in person, Mayor Brian Tobin said, who added Tuesday’s meeting would be the last fully virtual one held.

“I’m excited about returning back to in-person discussion,” Tobin said, adding that in-person meetings could resume at the “council chambers.” It is the top floor of city hall where the courtroom is currently located.

Tobin mentioned a public notice will be released prior to the July 20 meeting in regards to spectators. He added that meetings could be limited to half-capacity, with masks required “for all attendees.”

“We’re going to allow spectators, but it will require a little bit of balancing,” Tobin said.

Tobin also noted he will work to continue streaming meetings since it has “proven to be valuable the past year and a half.”

“We’ve been reaching a larger segment of our population,” he said. “We want to continue that outreach so residents know what’s going on.”

Councilperson Troy Beckwith (D-7th Ward) said council members and department heads should be the only ones allowed in the council chambers “for now.”

“We might get to a point where there’s too many people attending, so we’d have to make the tough decision of who can come in and who can’t,” he said. Beckwith added that public comments and hearings “should still be held virtually.”

Council members also mentioned two of their own, Katy Silliman (D-2nd Ward) and Kat McCarthy (D-1st Ward), have underlying health conditions.

Silliman and McCarthy both said they are being cautious, but each is open to a hybrid option for the meetings. 

“If it was just council members and department heads only, I’d consider attending the meetings in person,” Silliman said.

To accommodate Silliman and McCarthy, Tobin said he “will find the most efficient way to have meetings” if it’s hybrid.