2020 Local Ordinances

Ordinances / Resolutions of Note

  1. Accept Agreement with the Classic Center
  2. Support the Pre-Arrest Diversion Program
  3. Start a Community Energy Fund
  4. Declare State of Emergency, Banning Public Gatherings
  5. Order Athenians to Shelter in Place
  6. Urge Leniency for Rent and Mortgage Payments
  7. Refuse to Pay Attorney Bryan Sells
  8. Move Confederate Monument, Close College Square
  9. Establish Goal of Reducing Police Funding
  10. Adopt the FY 2021 Budget

Accept Agreement with the Classic Center

Funding for a 5,500-seat arena was included in SPLOST 2020, but many details remained that needed to be worked out between the Classic Center Authority and the local government. This 37-page agreement covered many topics from living wages to renewable energy and many other details. Preliminary plans for a new hotel and senior living center were also included. Two commissioners opposed this agreement because they felt the public had not been given a chance to weigh in on these massive projects.

Voting yes on the agreement: Davenport, Wright, Denson, NeSmith, Herod, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: Parker, Link
Absent: Edwards

Proposal made by: NeSmith

Passed on February 18, 2020

Support the Pre-Arrest Diversion Program

The commission passed a resolution in support of pre-arrest diversion, a program intended to avoid arrest and incarceration for some low level crimes, including cannabis possession and shoplifting. First-time offenders will be able to opt-in to this program, which may include community service or moral reconation therapy.

Voting yes to support pre-arrest diversion: Davenport, Parker, Link, Wright, Denson, NeSmith, Edwards, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: none
Absent: Herod

Proposal made by: Denson

Passed on March 3, 2020

Start a Community Energy Fund

This fund, initiated by Sustainability Officer Andrew Saunders, will help people improve their homes by offering incentives for energy efficiency. The ACC government might also buy solar panels to sell electricity direct to consumers at a reasonable rate. This will all be paid for by diverting some of the franchise fees that governments charge utilities for the use of public space. Increases in franchise fee collections, if any, will from now on be diverted to the Community Energy Fund, for use in the community.

Voting yes to start the fund: Davenport, Parker, Link, Wright, Denson, NeSmith, Edwards, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: none
Absent: Herod

Proposal made by: Wright

Passed on March 3, 2020

Declare State of Emergency, Banning Public Gatherings

The Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission declared a state of emergency due to the growing threat of COVID-19 (aka coronavirus). They originally thought of imposing a mandatory curfew, but instead opted to ban gatherings of 10 or more people in bars, restaurants and entertainment establishments (not including employees) from 5pm to 5am each day for three weeks, beginning March 17 at 5pm, and ending on April 7 at 5am. The ban on gatherings will also apply on all public property such as sidewalks and at all facilities owned by the ACC government, but there will not otherwise be a curfew.

Voting yes to ban gatherings: Parker, Link, Denson, NeSmith, Edwards, Herod, Hamby
Voting no: Davenport, Thornton
Absent: Wright

Proposal made by: Hamby

Passed on March 16, 2020

Order Athenians to Shelter in Place

The commission had already declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19 (see above). With this vote at another special called session just a few days later, they ordered Athenians to “shelter in place” until April 7. This time, it was mandatory. All non-essential businesses were ordered to close as well.

Voting yes to order sheltering in place: Davenport, Parker, Link, Wright, Denson, NeSmith, Edwards, Herod, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: none
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Hamby

Passed on March 19, 2020

Urge Leniency for Rent and Mortgage Payments

At their meeting on March 31, the commission unanimously passed a resolution calling on local landlords and mortgage holders to take a number of steps in support of tenants and homeowners who may be affected by the current economic shutdown.

Voting yes to urge leniency: Davenport, Parker, Link, Wright, Denson, NeSmith, Edwards, Herod, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: none
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Parker

Passed on March 31, 2020

Refuse to Pay Attorney Bryan Sells

Attorney Bryan Sells handed Athens a $23,618 bill for representing the Board of Elections in a hearing of the State Elections Board. However, this was not approved by the commission ahead of time, making his contract probably not legally enforceable. Many commissioners had serious reservations about paying him, but the motion to refuse to pay him did not pass.

Voting yes on refusing to pay Sells: NeSmith, Edwards
Voting no: Davenport, Parker, Link, Wright, Denson, Herod, Thornton, Hamby
Absent: none

Proposal made by: NeSmith

Failed on April 7, 2020

Move Confederate Monument, Close College Square

Mayor Kelly Girtz pledged in early June that he would move the Confederate monument on Broad Street despite the state law which seems to forbid it. He found a way around the law with a number of legal arguments, including the idea of combining the removal with a pedestrian safety project (widening the crosswalk at College & Broad). As part of this plan, College Square will be closed for six months to car traffic to provide space for restaurants to provide outdoor dining.

Voting yes on moving the monument: Davenport, Parker, Link, Wright, Denson, Edwards, Herod, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: none
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Link

Passed on June 25, 2020

Establish Goal of Reducing Police Funding

After the George Floyd protests shook the country, Commissioner Mariah Parker was adamant about establishing a goal in the fiscal year 2021 budget to reduce police funding by 50 percent over 10 years. She was joined by Commissioners Tim Denson and Melissa Link, but this vote failed 6-3.

Voting yes on establishing the goal: Parker, Link, Denson
Voting no: Davenport, Wright, Edwards, Herod, Thornton, Hamby
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Parker

Failed on June 25, 2020

Adopt the FY 2021 Budget

The fiscal year 2021 budget turned out to be a controversial one after Athens erupted in protests following the brutal murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Check out what the final budget contained and the wider context of its passage here.

Voting yes on adopting the budget: Davenport, Link, Wright, Edwards, Herod, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: Parker, Denson
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Hamby

Passed on June 25, 2020