Athens City Council met Monday to discuss an ordinance that would reduce the usage of single-use plastic bags in the city of Athens.
According to a previous Post report, that ordinance has already been amended once. Councilmember Alan Swank, D-4th ward, proposed three new amendments to the ordinance at the session.
The first amendment would change the ordinance’s effective date from Aug. 1, 2023, to Jan. 1, 2024. At the previous regular session meeting, Councilmember Sam Crowl, D-3rd ward, initially brought up the possible change to alleviate the problems the ordinance may cause for small businesses in Athens.
The second amendment to the ordinance clarified the enforcement of the ordinance.
“Citations for the violations of the sections shall be issued to a store or vendor … by code enforcement officers, police officers, sanitarian litter control officers and others assigned by the Service-Safety Director,” Swank said.
The third amendment to the ordinance changed the penalty for any violation of the ordinance. The original result of a citation was a minor misdemeanor and a fine of no more than $100. The amendment changed the penalty to result in an administrative offense, resulting in a $150 fine. Any store or vendor cited who does not pay the required administrative fee within 30 days will receive a minor misdemeanor.
The amendments passed, and the ordinance will be brought back to the next regular session again for the second reading.
Council also discussed an ordinance amending the 2023 Fringe Benefits Package for non-union city personnel.
The ordinance would amend the retirement package to allow non-union city personnel such as the Chief of Police and the Police Captain who honorably retire to purchase their service handgun from the city of Athens for $1.
Crowl introduced that ordinance on behalf of the Finance and Personnel Committee. He said if an employee is marked off-duty for a stress-related or psychological condition at the time of their retirement, the employee will not be able to purchase and receive their handgun unless the employee provides the Athens Police Department and the city human resources director with a statement from a psychiatrist or a licensed psychologist that the employee is competent to receive their service handgun.