What we do matters. As community leaders, it is times like these that residents look to us for answers. While we don’t have them all, what we do, how we react and how we handle our business here at the city of Tehachapi is magnified.
On March 18, the Tehachapi City Council had a special meeting on the steps of City Hall to approve a temporary policy to help small businesses and residents with utility payments. The majority of the policy allows small businesses in the city of Tehachapi to opt-in to a program to defer their water, sewer and trash payments to the city for two months. That balance is then payable over the next six months when hopefully business picks back up and we have a handle on COVID-19.
Additionally, we are waiving late fees for all residents and have suspended water shut-offs until May 30. If residents have issues paying their bills, we are extending some relief. We can offer this because of responsible budgeting, strong fiscal reserves and policies that have made our government model efficient and available to serve its citizenry. This is a crisis that we are working to solve together.
We have also engaged the business community. It’s safe to say they, like many others, are scared of these uncertain times, are addressing changes to their business model and toying with new ideas to remain profitable to keep your friends and neighbors employed. Many restaurants are trying new things like curbside pickup, special to-go ordering, delivery and meal packages.
While many of our restaurants have reduced seating capacity at the request of national and local health officials, the message is clear: they’re open for business and are relying on those who have been patrons for years to continue to do so. Whether you’re in town for lunch or commuting home from work around dinner time, meals are available in a variety of ways. Our local restaurant owners have even come together to share resources during a challenging point in our history and I couldn’t be more proud of them.
The same can be said about our local pastors. Last week many of them gathered together to discuss options and alternatives to in-person church services. On Sundays, collectively the churches in this community are by far the largest gathering places and especially popular among the elderly, the most vulnerable to this virus. Similar to restaurants, the pastors too are combining resources, they are sharing video equipment, studio space or whatever is needed to ensure church continues through new online delivery methods.
Our city is resilient, our city is prepared, and your team is working around the clock engaging with our partners and private industry representatives to work through this crisis. While we have temporarily closed city facilities to the public, be aware our business is continuing. We are operating and providing all the essential services like normal. Water, sewer, police, building, planning and city management continue to work through this and provide services to our residents.
There is no playbook for a crisis like this. It isn’t something that we simply pull off the shelf and apply. It’s a fluid situation that we all have been forced to embrace, but together we will push through. Support each other, support local business, don’t panic buy and remember there are still people working in a variety of fields to keep services available, goods flowing and commerce active in our city.
By the time you read this there will be even more information to share; therefore, please visit our special COVID-19 response website with resources for citizens, businesses and more at www.LiveUpTehachapi.com.
Greg Garrett is Tehachapi's city manager. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.