Clayton city council discusses COVID-19 issues

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CLAYTON— Clayton City Council members discussed the potential repercussions in Rabun County when Gov. Brian Kemp’s Executive Order goes into effect to reopen the government at their city council meeting Tuesday. 

The order reopens barbershops, bowling alleys and other popular gathering spots as early as Friday. 

Mayor Jordan Green cautioned citizens that just because some businesses are opening back up does not mean the threat of COVID-19 has disappeared. 

“I work in healthcare. I have many friends and family who work in healthcare,” Green said. “I ask that the general public uses common sense when businesses open back up.” 

“This is not over,” he added. 

Council member John Bradshaw said that Rabun County has its hands tied with regard to what procedures they are able to implement to combat the spread of the virus. 

“We can’t do any more or less than the governor says,” Bradshaw said. He said that concerned constituents have reached out to him but that there is nothing more the city is able to do. 

Mitch Baker, city attorney, echoed Bradshaw’s point and said that Kemp’s executive order includes language that reads “local governments cannot be more or less restrictive.” 

Council member David Cross encouraged anyone who is feeling depressed or needs someone to talk to during this unusual time to reach out to him. 

“I don’t care if it’s 2 a.m., I’ll talk to you,” Cross said. 

Council members urged residents that they should not go out unless they absolutely have to even after portions of the economy open back up. 

Green said that he is worried if people are not cautious that there will be a second wave of COVID-19 and that it would “feel like a knife in the back” to those healthcare workers on the frontlines. 

Chief of Police Andy Strait said that paperwork is being prepared to file for reimbursement from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for funding used on COVID-19 supplies. 

He said he believes this includes reimbursement for overtime hours as well as testing. 

Strait also asked council members for access to Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds that are allotted for the police department in order to purchase body armor, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other needed equipment. 

“I’d like to go forward with the SPLOST funds that are available,” Strait said. 

In other business, 

Council members approved a unanimous motion to table the second reading of the short-term rental ordinance. 

“I would request that since we’re still doing virtual meetings and cannot have the public presence, to postpone this second reading until we have true open city council meetings,” Green said. 

Council members voted to approve an addendum to the contract with the Rabun County Water and Sewer Authority (RCWSA) regarding the Rabun County golf course master meter that would dictate what percentage of a fluctuation in a meter reading would warrant a need for investigation into a meter malfunction. 

The approval was contingent upon the RCWSA agreeing to terms that language in the contract specify that there be a meter investigation if a 7 percent fluctuation occurs and that the average usage per day is considered if a prior billing cycle is referenced.

 Clayton is currently operating under a 1996 agreement with the city of Tiger, but Tiger has since sold its infrastructure to the county. 

Council members approved putting speed bumps on Jericho Lane, with the cost not exceeding $1,000. 

John Bozeman, planning and zoning administrator, said that he had been approached by residents on that road concerned because people tend to speed down the hill.

“I think it’s probably a good idea considering the presence of children in that area,” Bozeman said. 

Council members voted to postpone court action for delinquent taxes until July 1. 

Carl Butler was appointed by council members to serve on the ethics committee and finish out the term of Pom Sinnock. 

“It’ll be whatever is left of the two years,” Baker said. Ethics committee members serve two-year terms. 

Council members discussed what policies and procedures should be put in place for committee members, and it was decided that those serving have to be either a resident, property owner or business owner in the city of Clayton for their entire term. 

Baker clarified that a member could serve “as long as they meet one of those three criteria.” 

Council members scheduled the first budget workshop for Tuesday, April 28 at 7:30 a.m. at the Clayton Municipal Complex.