OFFICIAL MINUTES OF THE OXFORD MAYOR AND COUNCIL
EMERGENCY CALLED MEETING
THURSDAY, MARCH 26, 2020 – 7:00 PM
|ELECTED OFFICIALS PRESENT:
|David Eady – Mayor
||Matt Pepper – City Manager
|George Holt – Councilmember
||Marcia Brooks – City Clerk/Treasurer
|Jim Windham – Councilmember
||Stacey Mullen – Deputy City Clerk
|Jeff Wearing – Councilmember
||Jody Reid – Utility Superintendent
|Lynn Bohanan – Councilmember
||Dave Harvey – Police Chief
|Laura McCanless – Councilmember
||David Strickland – City Attorney
NOT PRESENT: Avis Williams – Councilmember
OTHERS PRESENT: Mike Ready, Art Vinson, Laurie Vinson, Laura Gafnea, James and Adrienne Waddey, Sonia
Teleconference # 1-650-215-5226, Access Code 145489731;
Notified Covington News, posted on doors of City Hall, distributed to Citizens’
List and posted on City of Oxford’s website and Facebook page.
Agenda (Attachment A)
1. Call to Order, Mayor David S. Eady
2. Roll Call of Council Members, Mayor David S. Eady
3. Roll Call of Attendees, Mayor David S. Eady
4. City of Oxford Emergency Declaration and Ordinance (Attachment B)
Mayor Eady stated that since the Council’s March 23rd meeting,
the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) provided a model declaration of a state
of emergency to cities and recommended that cities adopt this declaration with
any adjustments needed for their jurisdictions.
The declaration contains requirements for staying home and is more
restrictive than the requirements put in place by Governor Kemp on March 23rd. The model document was based on the best
advice from health professionals, Georgia Department of Public Health, and
Emory University. A proposed declaration
for Oxford was drafted based on this information.
Last night Newton County Board of Commissioners and the City
of Covington voted on and passed declarations based on language Athens-Clarke
County used that is much more descriptive and detailed on what is permitted and
prohibited. In the interest of being unified
in Newton County with our approach to preventing the spread of COVID-19, Mayor
Eady recommended uniformity with the other Newton County declarations. Several drafts have been worked on since last
night, and adjustments have been made by attorneys.
GMA arranged a conference call for mayors Monday morning in
which Dr. Carlos Del Rio from Emory University shared very dire predictions if
some drastic changes in behavior did not occur.
Also, the Chief Medical Officer of Piedmont Healthcare advised that if
drastic measures were not taken soon, Piedmont Newton would very quickly be
filled to capacity and run out of room to treat patients. The voluntary shelter in place
recommendations up to this point do not give law enforcement officers authority
to give people gathered together a citation when they are practicing social
distancing to disperse,
The proposed declaration ensures that the City of Oxford is
doing everything in its power to slow the spread of COVID-19 so that our local
hospital is not overwhelmed by requiring people to stay at home when possible,
to not gather in groups of ten (10) or more people, and to practice social
distancing with others.
The proposed order:
- prohibits public and private gatherings beyond immediate
household or social cohort.
- allows residents to leave their homes for essential
activities, which are defined in the document.
- prohibits non-essential businesses and non-essential travel
as defined in the order.
The City Council does not want to prohibit people from going
outside, walking the trails, etc. However,
people must practice social distancing when in public, and cannot gather in
groups of ten (10) or more.
Mr. Windham agreed with implementing the order. Mr. Wearing approved the order and also
emphasized the importance of the City of Oxford being unified on this issue
with the other government entities in Newton County.
Ms. Bohanan asked how Oxford’s declaration will work, since
Newton County already has a declaration in place. Mayor Eady stated that each city has its own
authority to regulate within its city limits.
The county’s order would apply in unincorporated areas of the
county. If Oxford does not adopt its own
declaration, the county’s declaration would apply, but cities are being
encouraged to take care of their communities so that the counties can focus on
the unincorporated areas. Mayor Eady
also added that the proposed declaration for Oxford has an ending date of April
20th which is longer than Covington’s and Newton County’s declarations. That is the date of the Council’s monthly
work session, and the date can be extended at that time if needed.
Ms. McCanless agreed with Oxford’s declaration being in line
with other Newton County jurisdictions’ declarations, but she agrees with
putting the longer termination date in so that Oxford will not have to call
another meeting to extend it. Mr. Holt
agreed with Ms. McCanless and was also pleased that Newton County changed
theirs from a curfew to shelter in place.
Mayor Eady expressed his appreciation to David Strickland
for working on multiple drafts in very short order for Oxford. Mr. Strickland thanked Mayor Eady and advised
he did not have any further comment.
Mayor Eady commented on the cooperation between the jurisdictions in
Newton County in this effort.
The proposed ordinance will not impact city operations. The city has already implemented procedures
to limit exposure from customers and to practice social distancing with each
Mr. Windham made a motion to adopt the declaration as
presented. Ms. McCanless seconded the
motion. The motion was approved
5. Approval of Billing Modifications (Attachment C)
Stacey Mullen stated that staff needs a procedure for
dealing with customers during the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff proposes to waive the $25 delinquent
fee normally assessed on the 25th of each month for March and April, waive the
10% penalty on unpaid balances for April, and suspend service disconnections
until further notice. Staff would
reevaluate conditions later and determine if these measures need to be extended
Mayor Eady advised the City Council that the purpose of these
recommended measures is to avoid penalizing people who are experiencing
economic hardships during this time. The
March bills were sent out at the end of February before COVID-19 became a major
issue, so it is not recommended that March 10% penalties be waived.
Mr. Windham recommended development of a recovery plan for
how customers will be allowed to catch up their accounts by April 20. Mr. Holt suggested sending out a notice to
all customers advising them there will be no disconnection right now, but
customers should pay what they can and will have the opportunity to enter into
payment arrangements when conditions return to normal. Mr. Wearing agreed.
Mayor Eady agreed and stated he would work with staff to
come up with some recommendations for contingency plans by April 20.
Mr. Wearing made a motion to adopt the staff
recommendations. Mr. Windham seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously (6/0).
Mayor Eady asked if anyone from the community had any
questions or comments.
Art Vinson asked what the communications plan for these
requirements is, with the thought in mind of easing the enforcement
burden. Mayor Eady advised we can send
out a “plain speak” notice to all members of the community. The City Council members agreed with this
plan. The information will also be
placed on our website and Facebook page and sent to the newspaper.
Mr. Holt suggested having our police officers distribute the
information. Mayor Eady advised the goal
of this is information and education. However,
Ms. Bohanan cautioned against the police officers having such contact with
people. Mr. Holt agreed this could be a
Marcia Brooks advised she would take the lead on working on
these communication items with staff and keep the Mayor and City Council
Mr. Windham asked if the city’s police officers have
masks. Mayor Eady advised that they
indicated Monday night that they had some.
Police are taking a very conservative approach and trying to inform and
educate on these requirements as much as possible. They are only taking action for blatant
violations, and then trying to avoid arrests and only issue citations.
Mayor Eady asked Laura Gafnea about the status of students
still on site at Oxford College and if she has any questions. Ms. Gafnea advised they will be moving about
fifty (50) remaining students to the Atlanta campus this weekend. They will be moved to the Clairmont campus in
single person apartments with single access bathrooms. Emory has been following Atlanta’s
shelter-in-place order on the Atlanta and Oxford campuses. The only major difference is the ending date,
but she anticipates that Atlanta’s requirements will be extended. Faculty and staff are practicing social
distancing. Mayor Eady asked Ms. Gafnea
to share the declaration information with the Emory police officers.
Adrienne Waddey stated that she has shared the information
from Newton County and Covington with the college’s leadership and will also
share the Oxford information, and they are available to assist the city if
Mr. Wearing made a motion to adjourn
at 7:57 p.m. Ms. McCanless seconded the
motion. The motion was approved