FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — In a 4-2 vote, Fulton County Commissioners made an ordinance change to restrict their ability to pass add-on agenda items June 19.
Commissioner Bob Ellis said he proposed the change in an effort to increase transparency.
His proposal originally was to require a unanimous vote among board members to add any item to the agenda during a meeting. That proposal previously failed June 5.
Ellis argued the new rule would ensure that last-minute add-ons were used only for emergencies, whereas in recent meetings there had been average of three to four add-on items a meeting.
At the June 19 meeting, Commissioner Liz Hausmann made a friendly amendment so that a two-thirds majority, or five votes, would be required to add on an agenda item. This is similar to the policy in Cobb County, Ellis said.
If an add-on item failed to pass, it could be brought back at the next meeting, after the public had time to review it, and would only require a simple majority to pass.
With the amendment, Commissioner Natalie Hall joined the three north Fulton commissioners who previously supported the measure, and it passed. Commissioner Marvin Arrington and Chairman Robb Pitts voted against the change.
Hall was initially skeptical of the proposal, and provided an example of an add-on item she put forward at that meeting: a resolution to support LGBTQ Pride month that needed to be passed before the end of June.
“There are circumstances that cause add-ons to be done at the last minute,” Hall said. “But I agree that there’s something that needs to be done.”
In other business, commissioners considered a resolution to repeal and replace a measure passed earlier this year that banned single-use plastics at county-owned facilities.
The new measure would have weakened the resolution passed in May, with a goal to reduce single-use plastics, rather than outright ban them.
Several people spoke out about the matter during public comment, ranging from environmental activists in favor of the ban to lobbyist for food packaging manufactures disparaging any sort of effort to reduce plastic use.
Hausmann made a motion to hold the resolution.
“I do want to come up with something that everybody can agree to and everyone can buy into,” Hausmann said. “I’m not asking for it to be disapproved. I’m just asking for a little more time to study it and make sure that we have engaged all parties that are affected here.”
Pitts was skeptical more time was needed.
“The reality of it is that nothing is going to satisfy everyone that has an invested interest in this,” Pitts said.
With a 3-3 vote, the resolution failed to pass, but could come before the commissioners again.