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Tucson City Council switches back to virtual meetings, delaying return to in-person

The Tucson City Council is switching back to a virtual format for the Tuesday, April 5 meeting, which was supposed to be their first in-person meeting in the more than two years since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

This includes the afternoon City Council study session and the evening regular meeting as well as the Public Housing Authority Board of Commissioners special meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Software related to audio-visual equipment in the city chambers started crashing during equipment tests on Monday, city officials said, which triggered the switch back to a virtual meeting. City staff has been testing software and audio-visual technology in the chambers for the past two months but hadn't yet used it for meetings.

Council meetings are expected to return to an in-person format at the next scheduled meeting on April 19. A hybrid format was expected to be used, with some presenters using a live video feed to join the meeting as a means of maintaining social distancing in the city chambers. The city was only planning to allow 26 people to sit in on meetings until the number of COVID cases in Pima County drops below the current levels, officials said.

Using either a completely virtual or in-person format would be a lot easier, city officials said, but the hybrid format requires technology and software that the city is still trying to learn to manage.

The meeting will be streamed live from the city’s YouTube channel. Members of the public who are scheduled to present at the meeting will be contacted by the City Clerk’s Office about how to call into the virtual meeting.

Anyone else hoping to speak at the meeting can email cityclerk@tucsonaz.gov by 4 p.m. April 5 to schedule a call in.

A few notable items on the agendas for these meetings include the beginning of budget discussion for the upcoming fiscal year, the agreement on a five-year plan with Pima County and the city for funds from U.S. Housing and Urban Development and the appointment of a new director for the city's Department of Transportation and Mobility.

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Bennito L. Kelty is TucsonSentinel.com’s IDEA reporter, focusing on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access stories, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.

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