Staff reporter 

It's business kinda' as usual at ML City Hall

City is fully staffed, but doing business without engaging in live public contact


Last updated 3/26/2020 at 11:21am

MEDICAL LAKE – “Domino’s Pizza,” came the reply on the other end of the phone, followed by a laugh.

But please pardon Medical Lake City Administrator Doug Ross for this injection of levity in a before business hours call who he knew was from some nosy reporter.

Regular customers of City Hall will get nothing but respect and service as usual from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., even amidst the current craziness of COVID-19 — except not personally interacting with people.

“I think all municipalities have closed their doors to the public,” Ross said. Some have sent their staff home, some are working from home.”

While Medical Lake is no exception to that rule, city offices and departments remain fully staffed.

“You know we’re fairly small here so we’re still up and running as far as all the employees are working,” Ross said. “There’s five of us up here and city halls have the ability to maintain social distance from each other.”

But “door rattlers” as Ross affectionately — and in fun — calls people still just want to see if the sign on the door saying the office is closed is for real.

What brought about the keeping the lights on and the phones answered was a conversation Ross had with Mayor Shirley Maike.

“If you send your employees home, maybe we come in every other day, but Shirley brought up a great point,” Ross said. “We’re almost to the point where it’s all or nothing.”

Ross added that they were sending staff home was probably putting them at equal risk beng exposed to spouses, kids, or whatever. “You are sequestering them here at City Hall, at the wastewater treatment plant, so it’s a tough decision.”

Because the show, well work, must go on.

“There are just things that need to be done every day,” Ross said. “We have to do daily tests that our wastewater treatment plant. The federal government and the state government haven’t waived those tests.”

Of all city services, water is, perhaps, the most vital with also making sure it is safe by also making sure the there is plenty of chlorine residual in our system.

The good thing about the timing at least is that it comes outside of snowplowing season, and roads are clear for both residents and emergency vehicles, Ross said.

While City Hall offices offer the prescribed spacing between employees, on the maintenance side some special rules are currently in place.

“Usually, standard protocol and maintenance is we send two guys out in the truck and they go out and they fill potholes or do whatever,” Ross said. Now some of that time is spent in the shop working on equipment.

Another casualty of the current environment are City Council meetings, one scheduled on March 17 and the next set for April 7, have been cancelled. No new schedule has been announced.

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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