Message from Mayor Norton, Monday, March 16, 2020 - delivered at City Council Meeting
Message from Mayor Norton – Monday, March 16, 2020 / Status Update - Delivered at the regularly scheduled City Council Meeting of Monday, March 16, 2020
In this new environment we live in with National and State declarations of health emergencies amidst the spread of the corona virus, the City is working with Federal and state officials, and agencies and the CDC to enact changes to the way we operate in an effort to protect Smyrna citizens and city staff serving them. These changes seek to promote social distancing and limit gatherings or activities that may expose us all to infection.
I announced Friday that effective today all City buildings are closed to the public until further notice. This includes City Hall, the Community Center and all programs there, The Library, The Wolfe Center and all programs there, the Recycling Center, and Brawner Hall, The Taylor-Brawner House, Aunt Fanny’s Cabin, the Smyrna History Museum, The Reed House, and all programs and rentals at all of these facilities.
The city will continue all essential services, including public safety and public works. Our Smyrna police and fire departments will continue to work to protect our community, and Chiefs Bennett and Acree have implemented special protocols to keep our citizens and public safety staff safe. Administrative services in the lobby of the police headquarters will be suspended until further notice, and all open records requests will be done via email to email@example.com. The jail and the Smyrna 911 center will remain fully functional and staffed.
Regarding public works - curbside garbage and recycling will continue on the current schedule. Citizens also may still utilize the drive through at city hall for utilities payments, and staff will utilize gloves and disinfectant precautions for these interactions with customers.
Tonight’s meeting of the City Council will be the last public meeting this month. We have cancelled the License and Variance meeting scheduled for March 25. The next meeting of the Mayor and Council is the Committee of the Whole on April 2, the next council meeting is April 6, and the next scheduled Planning and Zoning meeting is April 13. We will re-evaluate at the end of the month how we will proceed going forward, which may include meeting via teleconference. In the event that public meetings are conducted via teleconference, all public meetings will remain available to the public to access, listen and review after the meetings are completed. All court cases have been rescheduled and no cases will be heard in March. All open records requests through court services and the city clerk’s office will be conducted via email until further notice.
During this time we understand how difficult things may be for citizens and local businesses. The city will suspend water disconnections and will not apply late fees for unpaid balances for the next 60 days to help ease the financial strain of these difficult times. I spoke with Georgia Power today who along with Cobb EMC has suspended disconnections and collections for 30 days. It is also my understanding based on conversations this afternoon that natural gas providers, including City of Smyrna partner Gas South, will suspend disconnections and collections for 30 days.
I have appointed a task force made up of Smyrna citizens and leaders in the local business, faith, and education communities as well as those involved in elderly assistance and care. The purpose of the task force will be to have constant open lines of communication to determine how the city can best assist those struggling in our community during this health crisis
In conversations today I learned that Governor Kemp’s office is currently working on a business declaration to enable local businesses to apply for emergency funding from the Small Business Administration. We are in constant communication with the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and will make available all information concerning emergency funding that can help our local Smyrna businesses in this tough time. We will do everything we can as a city to help local businesses navigate the process to apply for this emergency funding.
Additionally, the city is partnering with local Faith leaders and MUST ministries to feed children in the Smyrna community. Tillman House on Concord Road will be the center of operations in Smyrna for this effort and is the drop off point for food items and donations. Donations can be made at Tillman House Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Friday 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and Saturday 9:00 a.m. to noon. A list of needed food items is posted on the City of Smyrna Facebook page, and monetary contributions are made payable to MUST Ministries with Food Drive in the memo line. There is an extreme need for volunteers – if you would like to volunteer or for more information please call or email Mary Anne Edwards at 770-435-0851 or firstname.lastname@example.org or go to Tillman House. (Access evolving information regarding resources for citizens and businesses posted on special pages of the City website at https://www.smyrnaga.gov/your-government/covid-19-response-utility-business-information )
Smyrna is a strong community, and we will get through this together. As we move forward in the upcoming weeks, please be vigilant and limit your interactions with others. Wash your hands often, and if you must go to public places like the grocery store please use gloves or disinfectants. Social distancing is of the utmost importance to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
As always, our staff who serves you well stands ready to assist with questions or issues you may have. God bless all of you and your families.
A guide for how to do business with the Community Development Department during COVID-19 Response is available at https://www.smyrnaga.gov/your-government/departments/how-to-do-business-with-community-development-during-covid-19-response/-fsiteid-1 Under the Community Development pages of the City website www.SmyrnaGa.gov