LaGrange City Council reissues resolution

Published 6:04 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2020

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The LaGrange City Council had to reapprove a resolution Tuesday, giving the LaGrange city manager powers to operate outside the budget if needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp issued a public health emergency for the state, it superseded two of the city’s resolutions.

“He (Kemp) basically dissolved the past two resolutions the council adopted,” LaGrange City Manager Meg Kelsey said.

When the city first declared its state of emergency ordinance in March, it gave Kelsey the ability to spend non-budgeted funds needed to fight COVID-19 and the power to categorize city services as required or discretionary. When Kemp issued his emergency as well as his shelter-in-place order, it didn’t extend to those powers for local city managers.

On Tuesday, the city gave those powers back to Kelsey. However, Kelsey said the city hasn’t had to make additional expenditures, and the city is still running at 100 percent operation.

Additionally, the new resolution provides language once again to provide wages for employees who are directed not to report to work and the ability to pay any employee who reports to work one and a half times their regular wage.  

The resolution also states that the city will not disconnect any utility services for customers for non-payment. Kelsey said the city has continued to do that.

City hall access is still restricted to visitors. The only people allowed to enter the government building are employees, but they are still providing customer service over the phone and through digital resources. The customer service drive-thru facility and utility payment drop box are also still open. The resolution also reinstates the language saying deadlines for business licenses and permits are extended to 15 days after the expiration of the resolution. The resolution is enforced for 30 days from April 14 but can be extended or rescinded by the mayor and council.

LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton said the resolution restores those powers to Kelsey that she initially had but were unrelated to Kemp’s executive order.

“It doesn’t actually have any effect, to anybody outside the city organization,” he said. “It’s just a resolution about how we will continue to operate during the COVID crisis.”