The Unity Township Supervisors, at a special meeting Wednesday morning, issued a disaster declaration for the township in light of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Supervisor Mike O’Barto told the Bulletin the 90-day township declaration was modeled by virus-related guidelines at the state level.
Gov. Tom Wolf this week extended a stay-at-home order to all Pennsylvania residents. State health officials reported 962 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 5,805 cases and 74 deaths.
“It’s still up in the air what we can maybe get in reimbursements from the state or even the federal government,” O’Barto said of the disaster declaration.
Since March 17, access to the township complex along Beatty County Road — including offices, the tax collector’s office and maintenance garage — has been restricted. The public will only have access to the main vestibule area of the municipal building, officials previously noted.
While the supervisors and township employees will continue to work and can be reached via phone and email, all face-to-face meetings with township employees are prohibited.
Township officials said previously that tax payments are limited to the drop box located outside the main door of the municipal building or through the drop mail slot at the entry to the tax collector’s office. No cash payments will be accepted. The tax collector’s office will remain open to answer any resident questions by phone, and it will continue to process tax payments and provide paid receipts via mail.
The township building restrictions issued last month will continue through the end of the 90-day declaration period, officials said.
“It is the intent of the supervisors to continue to provide essential services to the residents of Unity Township,” the supervisors said last month. “These restrictions are intended to enable that to occur.”
Another virus-related change, in accordance with state guidelines, is limiting construction work during the pandemic. O’Barto said the township is not currently accepting applications or plans for construction. This will continue, he noted, until township officials receive additional guidance from the state or until the construction moratorium is lifted.
“Construction, unless it is an emergency, has to cease,” he said.
The township has canceled its monthly planning commission meeting slated for Tuesday, April 7, while O’Barto said the supervisors’ regular meeting will be held as scheduled at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 9.
“It will be open to the public,” he said of the supervisors meeting.
“As we did (this Wednesday) with our meeting, we had the chairs at least 8 feet apart ... The Board of Supervisors just wants all of our residents to be safe.”