The Board of Directors of Bryan Texas Utilities (BTU) announced today that rate relief measures have been approved to assist customers during this difficult time.
Over the past several months, the world has been facing a growing public health crisis. The President of the United States, the Governor of Texas, and our local County Judge have signed their respective disaster declarations. This morning, having been notified of our first local confirmed case of COVID-19, I signed a Mayoral Declaration of Local State of Disaster due to Public Health Emergency. This will allow the City of Bryan to take necessary measures to assure public health at this time.
In the spirit of “two cities – one community”, the City of Bryan worked closely with the City of College Station to assure a coordinated disaster declaration, and I remain in regular contact not only with our sister city, but also with the Brazos County Health Department, other local Mayors, Judges, and Schools. Together, we are all working to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected from this highly contagious virus.
I want to thank the citizens of Bryan-College Station for taking this public health threat seriously – for remembering to wash your hands, to avoid touching your face, to practice social distancing, to stay home unless you are seeking food or essential goods, and for understanding that these measures are severe but necessary. The COVID-19 virus is twice as contagious and an order of magnitude more lethal than the common flu. It is especially lethal for those who are 70 years of age or older or already weakened by other medical conditions, so we have taken extensive economic and social measures to protect the lives of those who are most at-risk, and to help keep our hospitals open with available resources and beds so they can serve those most in need of help.
We are taking very seriously the recommendations from the President, the Governor, and their top medical experts and agencies, including the Center for Disease Control (CDC), to limit the spread of COVID-19. We have closed all of our buildings to the public and canceled all city-related meetings and activities involving 10 or more persons, whether they are inside our buildings or in public parks or spaces. As you have seen by today’s Bryan City Council meeting, we are taking extensive measures to ensure the safety of our employees, our citizens, and our council. We will continue to make these difficult decisions in the coming weeks to ensure the safety of our city, and I am asking you to do the same thing with your own activities.
It is no secret that these measures have and will continue to cause a severe economic burden on many businesses over the next month or two – the hospitality industry, hotels, catering companies, restaurants, retail and other businesses. I have been amazed at how nearly all of you have responded to this crisis, helping your neighbors and supporting these struggling local businesses as best you can. While this is a short-term economic problem caused by a public health crisis, I understand that it’s still severe, and I assure you the City of Bryan will do all in our power to ease the burden on our citizens and local businesses.
Many citizens who were paying their rent and mortgages and utility bills before their jobs and businesses were impacted by this public health crisis are contacting me concerned about their bills. These citizens should not concern themselves about foreclosures, evictions, or having their utilities shut off. Most of your neighbors are in the same situation. Most businesses are too. We are all in this together and we will get out of this soon enough by continuing to work together. I assure you that we have the backs of our business owners and residents who are struggling due to income loss as a result of the virus. We are looking at putting programs in place to assist those who need help. We don’t know specifics quite yet because we are still focused on quickly resolving the public health crisis, but I assure you the City of Bryan will do everything that we possibly can to ensure that our community bounces back. I’m sure the City of College Station and our local employers will do the same. We will all get through this.
I am forming a Mayor Advisory Committee and will be putting together a Small Business Recovery Task Force that will include key lenders, SBDC, small businesses most impacted or able to help. I anticipate creating a virtual Small Business Recovery Center to provide specific online resources so our local Small Businesses have a one-stop location to get help.
In the meantime, we ask for your help. Please remain calm and focused on continuing the critical but basic public health recommendations you are receiving. As a part of remaining calm, please understand the difference between being stocked v. stockpiled. There is no need to hoard basic supplies. Also, where allowed, please help your local restaurants by ordering take-out or pick-up where possible. Otherwise, stay home unless you have essential activities away from home. When we work together in all of these ways, our efforts will ensure that we stop the spread of COVID-19.
We are going to get past this. We are going to band together – like we have done so many times before. With our prayers and the strength and support of every resident of Bryan-College Station taking these practical health measures seriously, I’m confident we will show our resilience and come out a stronger and better community.