The Harker Heights City Council on Tuesday extended the city’s disaster declaration related to the coronavirus pandemic through July 31.

The action brings the city into line with similar declarations issued by the state and county.

For the past three months, the State of Texas and Bell County have issued disaster declarations that cover Harker Heights in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Spencer Smith issued an initial disaster declaration for Harker Heights on March 20.

The council extended the declaration on April 7 and April 28 and extended the declaration again on May 26, effective until June 30.

City Manager David Mitchell informed the council Tuesday that in order to match recent directives from the state and Bell County, the declaration needed to be extended to July 31.

Mitchell said, “The declarations were set up in a way that when new directives are added they are automatically rolled over into the City’s requirements concerning COVID-19.

By setting it up to transition automatically, the Council doesn’t have to be called back into session each time just to basically say they agree.”

On Wednesday, a day after the Harker Heights City Council’s action on the disaster declaration, County Judge David Blackburn held a news conference to announce that all businesses providing goods or services to the public will now promote safety policies that mandates the wearing of a face mask covering while on their premises.

Mitchell told the Herald on Wednesday, “This is a real-life example of how the system works. What Judge Blackburn has declared for the county is now on the books as a directive for the City of Harker Heights.”

The council then approved participating in the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Grant Program in the amount of $20,964.

The Harker Heights Police Department will use the funds to purchase an Aero Clave portable decontamination system to quickly sanitize large areas, a Victory handheld Sprayer for smaller areas, UV Spotlight Point and Shoot to disinfect items such as keyboards, radios and phones, Cruiser UV to sanitize department vehicles, Razor UV will be used to sanitize computers and a No Touch Pro-Therm thermometers to monitor the health of department personnel.

In other action Tuesday, council members voters 4-0 in favor of a plan that provides employee health insurance, vision benefits, dental benefits, life insurance, accident, death and dismemberment (AD&D) and long-term disability.

Leona Clay, director of human resources, recommended awarding contracts to Scott and White Health Plan BSW Preferred and SWCP for medical benefits, Superior Vision for Gold Plan 75 for vision benefits, Lincoln Dental Connect for dental benefits, Lincoln Financial for life insurance and AD&D benefits and Lincoln Financial (using the Premier Plan) for long-term disability.

The council then approved a resolution to pay for certain employee-related benefits and approve any transfers necessary to fund the Employee Benefits Trust.

The city holds in trust the funds and all substitutions and additions to such funds for the purpose of providing life, disability, and other health benefits to the city’s employees and qualified retirees and their dependents.

In other business, the council approved the 10-Year Parks, Open Space and Trails Master Plan.

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