River Forest President Cathy Adduci declared a state of emergency at a special village board meeting early Monday, March 16. At the start of the meeting, trustees voted to give the village president the authority to do so.

During a state of emergency, according to the code amendment, “the village president is authorized to exercise, by executive order, such powers of the Village President and Board of Trustees as may be reasonably necessary to respond to the emergency.”

Greg Smith, village attorney, said giving the village president authority to act independently provides “flexibility of action,” which is restricted when village board approval is needed.

He provided examples, such as purchases of goods or services over $25,000, which normally need board approval, as something Adduci can do if the need arises and the purchase must be made quickly, before there is time to assemble at least four of the trustees for a vote.

Another example is waiving hours of delivery for grocery stores.

Smith said the goal is to allow the village president to take care of “practical things” and her power will not extend beyond things the board cannot otherwise do.

In a press release on March 16, Adduci wrote: “A village-declared state of emergency gives my office certain abilities and powers to issue executive orders to help the village respond to issues of village concern more quickly and effectively. Some examples of this include ease in making emergency purchases and entering into emergency-related contracts that would otherwise require village board approval, which may now be quickly approved by an executive order issued by the village president.”

She added, in the release, “I cannot stress enough the need for speed and flexibility in times of emergencies. This declaration allows for just that.”

A state of emergency, once declared, can be rescinded by the village president; otherwise, it expires at the next special or regularly scheduled village board meeting.

“These are extraordinary times,” said Adduci at the meeting and added that “the situation is very fluid.”

The board voted unanimously to allow the president the ability to declare a state of emergency.

“I appreciate the trust you have given me,” said Adduci to the trustees.

At the meeting, Adduci also announced that the village is going to hire someone for the next four to eight weeks to coordinate senior outreach to ensure that older members of the River Forest community have everything they need during the coronavirus crisis.

This person will be empowered to find and oversee volunteers. Letters will be sent to all seniors identified as such through the senior citizen property tax exemption list.

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