Over the past week or two, municipal officials throughout Michigan have had to make emergency decisions, institute temporary policies and take various actions that normally would be approved by the governing body. Given that many municipal offices are temporarily closed (with or without staff) and that public meetings have been discouraged, many municipal governing bodies have not been able to meet. Accordingly, municipal officials have often had to act under emergency and extreme situations on their own.
To the extent that a governing body decides to meet virtually, either via video conference, tele-conference or otherwise, such a meeting could be utilized to approve new policies, approve the payment of bills, affirm financial transactions and other matters, or to retroactively ratify the same.
Likely, at some point in the future, city or village councils or commissions and township boards will have to meet to ratify the past emergency actions and procedures of their local municipal officials. Ideally, such ratification and retroactive approval should be in the form of a written resolution. When such a legislative meeting occurs (whether in person or virtually via a video conference, a tele-conference or otherwise), it might also be prudent to delegate temporary emergency powers for the weeks ahead for the municipal official/officials involved.
Local municipal officials may desire to contact the Michigan Governor, as well as their local state senator and state representative, to urge swift and emergency legislation to deal with and expressly give municipalities the authority to validate and retroactively approve emergency actions after the fact when the municipal body can meet.