The Hiawassee City Council is considering a proposal that would allow two readings at one meeting before voting on matters. Mayor Liz Ordiales stressed this would make “given” matters more efficient and effective to implement. Those “given” matters would be routine business the city and not issues that require a public hearing.
“This option originally came up during the acceptance of the Brunch bill,” said Ordiales, adding several communities are already doing this.
The Brunch Bill or SB 17, passed in 2018 and allowed communities to choose if they wanted to change the time restaurants could start selling alcohol on Sunday to 11 a.m. from 12:30.
“In this case, the legislature approved the Brunch bill, it was put to a vote by the citizens, it was approved handedly, yet we had to wait two months to pass this in the City,” she said.
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The ultimate effect was restaurants were “on hold for two months while the council approved the ordinance, which requires two readings,” she said.
“Another example is the technology fee we have been discussing for two months. That could have been approved in one meeting and implementation moved forward.”
Ordiales added that while this would save a lot of time on certain things, it could not take the place of required public hearings like tax rates. She also pointed out that the process had several rules to prevent it from being abused.
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“There are many stipulations for this to be enacted,” she said.
The entire council must be present in-person. The entire council must agree and if there is any doubt, the option is taken off the table, she said.
Ordiales stressed that the city council wants public input.
“We have a work session to discuss issues at hand and always welcome public input,” she said.
And even though Covid-19 has forced everything to go virtual, she stressed the meetings were still a forum for getting input from the public.
The Hiwassee City Council holds a work session on the last Tuesday of the month then a regular session eight days later on the first Tuesday, giving council members to receive input and determine if they will vote on the matter.