MILTON, Ga. — The Milton City Council held its first meeting of 2021 Jan. 4, adopting changes to the city’s ethics code and extending its COVID-19 emergency declaration.
Council members signed off new language to the city’s ethics codes that allows some city employees to receive gifts under certain circumstances.
Previously, city officials were allowed to receive a gift of up to $101 in value from a single source one time during a calendar year. The ordinance change amends that stipulation to allow for gifts of higher value to public safety employees, a change primarily spurred by charitable donations.
Public safety employees can now receive gifts of more than $101 within a calendar year provided the gift, grant or donation is made by an organization whose primary purpose is “charitable in nature,” and it is intended to assist or provide relief to the Milton Police or Milton Fire employee. The donation must also be pre-approved by either the fire chief or police chief and the city manager.
Police Chief Rich Austin said the Milton First Responders Foundation provides a good example. The nonprofit group, established in 2015, has donated equipment to the city’s fire and police departments, and it has supported other initiatives and public safety workers.
In other action at the meeting, the council moved to extend its COVID-19 emergency declaration to Feb. 7. Milton first adopted the emergency ordinance in March 2020 and has extended it throughout the pandemic.
City Attorney Ken Jarrard said as talks continue on a new coronavirus relief bill, which could mean more federal money to mitigate the city’s costs associated with the pandemic, the city can extend its declaration to ensure it receives the funding.
The city was allocated $1.65 million through the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act signed into law by President Trump last March.
Fulton County received $104 million of the allocation and originally offered $2.5 million be divvied up among the county’s 13 cities, with Milton slated to receive just over $23,000. Many cities pushed back, stating it was too small a piece of the pie, and Fulton eventually agreed to up its allocations.
Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood previously told the Herald he believed the $1.65 million Milton was awarded was a fair amount.
In other action at the Jan. 4 meeting, Public Works Director Robert Drewry presented a brief update on the roundabout construction projects at Hopewell Road/Hamby Road and Hopewell Road/Thompson Road.
Drewry said clearing has been completed for the projects and the relocation of utilities has begun. While it may appear that work is slowing on the projects during this time, Drewry said, it is only because there are numerous utilities that require attention during construction.