Council adopts 2021 legislative package, audit program for alcohol license compliance

Council members Jennifer Ide, left, Howard Shook, right, and J.P. Matzigkeit in background.

The Atlanta City Council voted Tuesday to approve the City of Atlanta’s 2021 legislative package, a slate of proposals and policies that aim to communicate the City’s legislative and budget priorities to the Georgia General Assembly during the 2021 legislative session (Legislative Reference №20-R-4618). The City’s legislative package includes items that impact economic development, affordability, transportation, transparency, public safety, and local government revenues.

The package includes the nine items below:

1. The City of Atlanta opposes any legislation or action that seeks to change the ownership, operations and governance of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, including the creation of any entity that would provide oversight responsibilities for governance and/or operations.

2. Enable municipalities to establish dedicated funding sources for affordable housing. State enabling legislation is required to establish a local, dedicated, recurring revenue source.

3. Enable property tax deferral for low- and moderate-income residents in redeveloping areas. Local legislation that would enable the creation of a City of Atlanta property tax deferral program would help low- and moderate-income homeowners remain in their current homes without negatively impacting the City’s revenue.

4. Update the Atlanta Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) Program, a property tax abatement program administered by the City, in order to increase utilization of the tool and expand the geographic eligibility for affordable housing to encourage development more equitably across Atlanta.

5. Expand the available legal options for addressing street racing, such as permitting vehicle confiscation through civil forfeiture and permitting the municipalities to impose higher fines for street racing related traffic offenses.

6. Ban the use of no-knock warrants, including the adoption of other protocols such as clearly and verbally identifying as law enforcement that has a search warrant in a manner that can be heard by the occupants and requiring that body cameras be activated during the execution of a search warrant and that all officers present in the execution of a warrant be equipped with an operating body camera.

7. Require law enforcement agencies authorized to enforce state law within the territorial jurisdiction of a municipality, including the Georgia State Patrol, to file traffic citations written within the territorial jurisdictions of a municipality in the appropriate municipal court.

8. Limit county development authorities from issuing bonds within city limits and amend the Georgia Development Authorities Law to limit the operation of a development authority within a city’s boundaries to be only the municipal development authority.

9. The City of Atlanta opposes any legislation or action which would negatively impact the

ability of all eligible residents of the state of Georgia, including those residing within Atlanta, to exercise their fundamental right to vote.

The Council also adopted legislation amending the City of Atlanta Code of Ordinances to require the chief financial officer to conduct annual forensic audits of the financial records of a sample of establishments licensed to sell alcoholic beverages (Legislative Reference №20-O-1741). The audit will aim to confirm that establishments utilizing exemptions from certain distance requirements and other alcohol regulations for which they have qualified should remain entitled to those exemptions.

The Council also agreed to appoint Shannon Manigault to be the City’s first Inspector General for a term of five years starting in January 2021 (Legislative Reference №20-R-4690). In February, the Council approved legislation finalizing the creation of the Office of Inspector General (Legislative Reference №19-O-1729).

Other items adopted during the meeting include:

• An ordinance to amend the City’s Code of Ordinances to establish regulations for establishments wishing to operate outdoor dining areas on the street in the public right-of-way (Legislative Reference №20-O-1691). The legislation specifies that establishments must apply to the Atlanta Department of Transportation to be granted a temporary permit through the end of 2021.

• An ordinance to authorize the City’s chief financial officer to make transfers within the Coronavirus Relief Funds provided to the City pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to cover costs incurred due to COVID-19 public health-related efforts (Legislative Reference №20-O-1730).

• An ordinance to establish the Vending Kiosk Trust Fund to receive revenue generated by City-owned kiosks located in the public right-of-way with the exception of the annual licensing fee to be used for kiosks maintenance (Legislative Reference №20-O-1712).

Legislation was filed authorizing an agreement with Agape Tennis Academy LLC for the management, maintenance, and performance of capital improvements at the City’s five tennis centers (Legislative Reference №20-R-4620).

Legislation was introduced to be considered in committee next week, including:

• A resolution requesting that all relevant City departments modify painted and printed icon signage denoting accessibility for persons with disabilities to depict a more action-oriented representation of the disability community on public property.

• An ordinance to amend the City of Atlanta’s Code of Ordinances to clarify the minimum requirements of uniform and adequate signage to be posted on private property whereon vehicle immobilization services are to be employed.

• A resolution to create the City of Atlanta Enterprise Resource Planning Steering Committee for the purpose of providing responsibility and oversight in improving performance and delivery of City services.