2023 Local Ordinances

Ordinances / Resolutions of Note

  1. Delay Barber Street Bike / Ped Improvements
  2. Approve Mall Redevelopment
  3. Restart the Eviction Prevention Program
  4. Recognize the Firefighter’s Union
  5. Approve the FY 2024 Budget
  6. Ban Indoor Vaping
  7. Start Delinquency Prevention Initative
  8. Place Public Safety Monitor in Auditor’s Office
  9. Accept Affordable Housing Investment Strategy
  10. Accept Plan to Reduce and Prevent Homelessness
  11. Reject Pet Registration
  12. Close First Step Encampment and Extend Hotel Voucher Program

Delay Barber Street Bike / Pedestrian Improvements

The ACC Commission has been debating making changes on Barber Street to improve bike and pedestrian safety. The current plan was to add a multi-use path, which would have removed some of the parking spaces between Boulevard and Prince Avenue. Some commissioners felt there had not been enough public comment, and hesitated to approve the $7 million project concept. Instead, they tabled the project indefinitely.

Voting yes to delay Barber Street improvements: Taylor, Wright, Fisher, Culpepper, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: Davenport, Houle, Myers
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Wright

Passed on February 7, 2023

Approve Mall Redevelopment

The ACC Commission approved a near-total redevelopment of the Georgia Square Mall, leaving Belk and the surrounding area. According to the Flagpole, the redevelopment will add “70,000 square feet of new commercial space and 1,200 apartments, townhouses and senior living units…10% of the apartments will be set aside at below-market rents for 20 years, and reduced-rent commercial space will be set aside for the Clarke County School District, the Boys & Girls Club, and women- and minority-owned businesses.”

Voting yes to approve the Mall redevelopment: Davenport, Taylor, Wright, Fisher, Houle, Culpepper, Myers, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: none
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Houle

Passed on March 7, 2023

Restart the Eviction Prevention Program

The ACC Commission voted 9-1 to restart an eviction prevention program that stalled out in 2022. Family Promise of Athens, working in partnership with The Ark, will revive the program and attempt to make some improvements on it. They’ll receive $900,000 from the American Rescue Plan to help them do that, funding which the commission allocated to eviction prevention but so far has been left unspent.

Check out APN’s article on this commission meeting for more information.

Voting yes to restart the eviction prevention program: Davenport, Link, Taylor, Wright, Fisher, Houle, Culpepper, Myers, Hamby
Voting no: Thornton
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Houle

Passed on May 2, 2023

Recognize the Firefighter’s Union

The ACC Commission voted 9-1 to officially recognize the Professional Firefighters of Athens-Clarke County and start the process of collective bargaining. Commissioner Allison Wright opposed the idea because the benefits it provides firefighters will not be shared by other ACC employees. Mayor Kelly Girtz had previously threatened to veto the measure, but he changed his mind after supporters won enough votes to override a veto. Read the APN article here.

Voting yes to recognize the ACC firefighter’s union: Davenport, Link, Taylor, Fisher, Houle, Culpepper, Myers, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: Wright
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Houle

Passed on June 6, 2023

Approve the FY 2024 Budget

Written by Commissioner Mike Hamby, the new county budget slashes the property tax millage rate from 13.1 to 12.45 mils, provides for a 7% raise for all ACC employees with an additional 1% in merit-based raises, prevents employee health insurance costs from increasing this year, provides some extra funding for neighborhood traffic calming, fully funds a request from the ACC Library and provides $500,000 towards a new Center for Racial Justice Black Futures among many other items.

There ended up being three votes in total on two different budget versions, the second of which was written by Commissioners Jesse Houle and Carol Myers. This budget version would have passed, but Commissioner Ovita Thornton manipulated the decision by inappropriately abstaining on Houle’s budget. Read the APN article here.

Voting yes to approve Houle’s budget: Davenport, Link, Taylor, Houle, Myers
Voting no: Wright, Fisher, Culpepper, Hamby
Abstaining: Thornton
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Houle

Failed on June 6, 2023

Voting yes to approve Hamby’s budget: Taylor, Wright, Fisher, Culpepper, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: Davenport, Link, Houle, Myers
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Hamby

Passed on June 6, 2023

Ban Indoor Vaping

Since vaping aerosol contains heavy metal, fine particulates and cancer-causing chemicals, the commission decided to ban the practice indoors across Athens, with some exceptions. Read more about the ban here.

Voting yes to ban indoor vaping: Davenport, Link, Taylor, Wright, Fisher, Houle, Culpepper, Myers, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: none
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Houle

Passed on August 1, 2023

Start Delinquency Prevention Initiative

The ACC Commission approved a $2.9 million contract with the Boys and Girls Club of Athens to start a new delinquency prevention initiative to help at-risk youth stay out of gangs and improve their academic performance. Read more about the program here.

Voting yes to start the initiative: Davenport, Link, Taylor, Wright, Fisher, Houle, Culpepper, Myers, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: none
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Houle

Passed on August 1, 2023

Place Public Safety Monitor in Auditor’s Office

The Public Safety Oversight Board has been a controversial addition to the ACC government since its conception, and increasingly so after the local election of 2022. The board recommended at least one full-time position, called the public safety monitor, to help them in their goals of reviewing complaints and providing oversight over the police department and other public safety agencies. With this vote, the commission gave the monitor responsibility to the ACC Internal Auditor, but did not yet provide the funding needed to actually hire for the position (as of August 2023).

Voting yes to house the monitor: Davenport, Link, Taylor, Fisher, Houle, Culpepper, Myers, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: Wright
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Davenport

Passed on August 1, 2023

Accept Affordable Housing Investment Strategy

The commission voted to accept a plan to guide investment into affordable housing created by consulting firm HR&A Advisors with Commissioner Dexter Fisher as the only opposition. While the plan does discuss how to make single-family housing more affordable, Fisher wanted to focus local government investment on single-family housing rather than on rental housing as recommended in the report. However, the commission did not make any actual investments with the acceptance of this plan; that will have to be decided in future votes.

Voting yes to accept the affordable housing strategy: Davenport, Link, Taylor, Wright, Houle, Culpepper, Myers, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: Fisher
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Houle

Passed on October 3, 2023

Accept Plan to Reduce and Prevent Homelessness

The commission voted unanimously to accept a plan to reduce and prevent homelessness in Athens as drafted by the Cloudburst Group. Unlike the affordable housing strategy above, this vote had some funding attached to it. $1 million of American Rescue Plan funding will go to the Athens Homeless Coalition immediately so they can start carrying out the rest of the plan. Another $3.5 million will be awarded over the next year through a request for proposals process.

Voting yes to accept the affordable housing strategy: Davenport, Link, Taylor, Wright, Fisher, Houle, Culpepper, Myers, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: none
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Myers

Passed on October 3, 2023

Reject Pet Registration

ACC Animal Services had requested that the commission allow them to implement a mandatory pet registration system so they can better serve both the public and the animals in their care. But after hearing many negative comments about the idea from Athens residents, the commission decided to reject the proposal. Commissioners Melissa Link, Tiffany Taylor and Jesse Houle objected to this decision, arguing that pet registration would reduce unnecessary euthanizations and help reunite pets with their owners more quickly.

Voting yes to reject pet registration: Davenport, Wright, Fisher, Culpepper, Myers, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: Link, Taylor, Houle
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Myers

Passed on October 3, 2023

Close First Step Encampment and Extend Hotel Voucher Program

The commission approved a transition plan for the First Step homeless encampment in October in an 8-2 vote, but Commissioner Thornton had second thoughts and wanted to reconsider. This time around, the vote was much closer with Commissioners Thornton and Fisher joining Link and Houle in voting no.

Check out APN’s article on the closing of the First Step encampment for the full context surrounding this vote.

Voting yes to approve First Step transition plan: Davenport, Taylor, Wright, Culpepper, Myers, Hamby
Voting no: Link, Fisher, Houle, Thornton
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Wright

Passed on November 7, 2023