In an effort to safeguard the health of its employees and citizens against spreading of the coronavirus, the Lula City Council has taken steps to adjust city operations.
During a meeting held March 16, the council approved a contingency plan outlining how the city will operate over the course of the next 30 days. City Manager Dennis Bergin said the city has a contingency plan with Banks County, Hall County and the cities within Hall County that outlines emergency situations but, the plan does not cover issues the nation is currently facing with the coronavirus. Bergin said the local governments have been working diligently during the past week to address current issues and safety precautions.
Bergin said some precautionary measures taken recently by the city include purchasing additional fuel for equipment and vehicles. Generators have been purchased for the wastewater plant and additional chemicals have been ordered for the water system. Bergin said he met with Hall County and other local cities earlier in the day to discuss water and sewer service and there was a willingness on the part of each government agency to assist each other as needed.
In recognition of the obligation to provide employees with a safe environment while continuing to provide service to the citizens, staff has been divided into three sections that do not co-mingle in order to keep department activity separate while still preforming services.
City Hall will be closed to public access for the remainder of the week and the council will be making a decision at that time on how to proceed from there.
“The process will continue to be refined in how we provide services to the constituency with the intent that we are going to be full service,” Bergin said.
Action taken by the council included how payments will be received. In order to encourage online payment for utilities, the council voted to waive the $4.95 fee for online payments. If a customer wishes to pay by a money order, the fee, up to $4.95, will also be waived for the next 30 days. Disconnection of service for non-payment will also be suspended for 30 days.
The city will be setting up a system to receive online permit fee payments. Applications will still have to be submitted to city hall.
City sponsored meetings scheduled during the next few weeks will be held online, hopefully with live feed for public viewing.
No new reservations will be approved for use of the depot for the next 30 days.
Citizens are urged to check the city website for updates.
In other business, the council,
•celebrated the 95th birthday of Councilman Mordecai Wilson.
•recognized Jessica Gunter, Dennis Adair and Lynn Bengston as March yard of the month recipients.
•approved an increase in tap fees for new connections to the proposed Sewer Line I. Tap fees for new connections to the line will increase from $5,000 to $7,000.
•approved moving forward with a referendum to be placed on the November election ballot regarding Sunday package sales of beer and wine and Sunday sale of beer and wine by the drink. City Attorney Joseph Homans was directed to proceed with preparation of ordinances to address how Sunday sales will be governed if the referendum is approved.
In regard to a proposed petition for package sale of distilled spirits, the petitioner will need to obtain approximately one hundred signatures and submit the petition to the election superintendent. The council will take no action on the petition or placement of the question for distilled spirit sales on the ballot.
•reported the March Ladies Gathering originally scheduled for March 26 has been cancelled.
•agreed to move forward with plans for future events such as the Railroad Days and Memorial Day festivities with the understanding this may change.