MILTON, Ga. — While other North Fulton mayors have spoken out against Fulton County’s allocations of COVID-19 federal relief dollars, Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood said he is now pleased with the amount his city will receive.
The Milton City Council approved a measure at its Oct. 5 meeting that will pave the way for the city to receive up to $1.65 million in aid to offset local costs related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The funds are part of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act signed into law by President Trump in March. Fulton County received $104 million of those dollars.
Originally, the county offered $2.5 million to be divvied up among Fulton’s 13 cities. Milton Emergency Manager and Deputy Fire Chief Matt Marietta said Milton would have originally received about $23,000.
The county’s proposal sparked a move by cities to present a solid front to petition for a greater share, even as Fulton County announced that it had already allocated 80 percent of its total funds.
“The consensus of North Fulton cities was that the original amount offered was way too low,” Lockwood said.
Leaders with the county argued that much of those funds, including those granted to charities, arts programs, food programs for seniors and other initiatives benefit all Fulton residents.
It still did not sit well with some North Fulton mayors. Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker said the county “screws all its residents equally,” and Roswell Mayor Lori Henry said the incident has set back the county’s relationship with its cities.
After negotiations, Fulton County agreed to up the allocations to cities to a total of $25 million, of which Milton will receive $1.65 million.
Lockwood is pleased with that figure, and there was no dissention or discussion among the City Council in approving the request.
“Obviously we haven’t been funded yet, but I think it’s a fair distribution,” Lockwood said after the meeting. “The key I don’t think a lot of people realize, no matter how much you negotiate for…there are certain parameters on what the money can be used for. For Milton, I think it came out to a good balance. The amount of money and the regulations it can be spent on, it’s a good amount and good value for what the county is giving us.”
Milton has already made two requests for funds, but they fall short of the full $1.65 million it can receive. Emergency Manager Matt Marietta said the city still has to demonstrate to the county its requests fit the CARES Act funding stipulations, and Milton officials are still working out in what ways it will use the money.
“I know that we have had significant unexpected expenses from this pandemic, and as there is no end just around the corner,” Marietta said. “The city still likely has several months of impact from this pandemic…that we need to weather.”
In other action at the Oct. 5 meeting, the council extended its COVID-19 state of emergency until Nov. 9. The order allows for to-go sales of wine and beer for companies that have an alcohol permit for on-site consumption, and it loosens regulations on signage for businesses.
Officials also passed a measure that extends the hours for alcohol retail sales on Sundays.
Retail Sunday alcohol sales are now permitted from 11 a.m. to midnight for businesses that have a Sunday sales license through the city. The previous time frame for sales was 12:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
On-site consumption on Sundays begins at 11 a.m. That move came after 76 percent of Milton voters approved to the so-called “brunch bill” that allowed Sunday on-site alcohol consumption as early as 11 a.m. versus 12:30 p.m. in prior years.