The Gillette City Council will consider declaring a state of emergency Tuesday.

It would be a formality so that if federal funding becomes available, the city would be able to potentially access the money, city spokesman Geno Palazzari said.

Declaring an emergency is a formal way for the city to state that its needs have exceeded its resources. The declaration frees up federal money for states and cities take protective measures against a situation like COVID-19.

It is acknowledging an event is large scale and that the city may not have all the resources to respond and is likely requesting support from other agencies, said FEMA spokesman Brian Hvinden.

It’s a good move on the city’s part to do its due diligence so it could be ready to take advantage of the programs, said David King, Campbell County emergency management coordinator.

Skills games

A proposed law that would require businesses and organizations with “skills”-based games in the city of Gillette to pay fees will be up for a third vote on Tuesday.

The city defines “skills” devices as electronic games or systems that allow for the opportunity to exercise skill or judgement where the outcome is not completely controlled by chance alone for the purpose of wagering.

As proposed, businesses would have to pay a $1,200 annual permitting fee and $500 per machine. The city would also limit the number of machines to be allowed inside businesses to five. Businesses would not be allowed to let residents under 21 to play.

The penalties for noncompliance would be up to six months in prison and a $750 fine. But the city could also enforce administrative fees like it does for alcohol compliance checks. The first violation would result in a $750 fine, second, $1,000 and for a third violation it would be a $1,500 fine and that business would have its permit revoked.

If the city approves the proposal, it would go into effect July 1.

City Administrator Pat Davidson said in March, however, that staff may recommend that the City Council table the item so it could take a closer look at a bill legislators passed in March that creates a nine-member state gaming commission that would be in charge of the permitting process for in-state gaming. It includes “skills” games and historic horse racing.

Other items

The city will also listen to first reading of a proposal that, if passed, would mean water and sewer rate increases for residents.

Under the proposal, sewer rates would go up $4.04 a month for a household with up to a one-inch water meter. As for water, the city is considering implementing a $1.10 a month base charge for customers with a water meter of less than an inch.

Utilities Director Michael Cole is recommending the increases in order to allow the city to generate an additional $187,350 for its water distribution fund and $800,000 for its sewer fund for fiscal year 2020-21.

If the proposal passes after three votes, the changes would go into effect May 1.

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