ALPHARETTA, Ga. — The Alpharetta City Council passed an emergency ordinance the morning of March 16 that suspends normal operations and provides the mayor and city executives with authority to act on immediate matters relating to vital services.
The action comes as the nation grapples with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which has forced cities, schools and businesses across the country to enact measures to deal with the emergency.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is an extraordinary time in the nation’s history, and as the elected representatives of the people of Alpharetta, it is this council’s duty to make sure that we can continue to conduct the business of the City of Alpharetta for the people of this community under such unusual circumstances,” Mayor Jim Gilvin said.
The Alpharetta ordinance:
• Suspends public hearings, or meetings of the City Council, city boards, committees or commissions.
• Allows votes required by the City Council to be conducted in absentia by email without a public meeting, advertisement or other formalities required by law.
• Provides that four council members voting by email shall constitute a quorum.
• Requires that all council votes shall be reported to the public by way of the city’s website within three days of the vote.
• Sets a 30-day window for the City Council to reconvene and either extend or repeal the emergency ordinance.
Alpharetta Assistant City Administrator James Drinkard said that all emergency services will remain in operation. Besides police and fire, this includes sanitation services, which he said will follow regular pickup schedules.
The ordinance is authorized under Section 2.23 of the City Charter. It was passed by a vote of 6-0, with Councilman Dan Merkel absent.
“I know this is a trying and difficult time for all of us,” Mayor Gilvin said. “Everybody in the state and in this nation is impacted by this COVID virus. We understand that it is as important to continue to protect you as it is to continue to serve you.”
Gilvin asked residents to continue observing recommendations by health officials to avoid crowds and remain secluded if you suspect you may be infected with the COVID-19 virus.
To that end, he said, the city is suspending all special events or activities that would include more than 50 people. Public buildings will remain closed to non-employees until at least April 12.
The Alpharetta Business Association’s annual Downtown Farmers Market is also postponing its scheduled opening on Saturday, April 4 until further notice. The annual event runs from April through October.
“You can always continue to reach out to your elected officials and our staff members by email, by phone as necessary,” Gilvin said. “We want to make sure that the public is being served.”