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Decatur City Commission holding annual retreat two hours away at mountain resort

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Decatur City Commission holding annual retreat two hours away at mountain resort


The Decatur City Commission is holding its taxpayer-funded annual retreat this week on Feb. 2 and Feb. 3 at Brasstown Valley Resort and Spa in Young Harris, Ga.

The resort is located two hours away. The retreat is a legally called meeting under the Open Meetings Act, which does not specify where government agencies must meet, only what the notice requirements are.

The public is welcome to attend, provided they are free all day Thursday and all day Friday. They must also be able to drive two hours to the retreat and back each day, or be able to afford a room at Brasstown Valley. The taxpayers are spending $5,400 to send their commissioners on this municipal excursion, according to the city.

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The resort features golf and horseback riding, though presumably commissioners won’t have time to do any of that. They have a busy agenda:

While it’s not clear what commissioners will be discussing between breakfast, lunch and dinner, the public won’t be able to find out if they don’t attend the retreat. The meeting won’t be recorded, but City Manager Peggy Merriss said a summary of the discussion will be provided by a facilitator.

Mayor Patti Garrett said the intention of the meeting is not to shut out the public.

“The reason that we plan them and have them out of town is … we think being able to have a retreat-like atmosphere is important,” Garrett said. “We do brainstorming. We look at how we can work best together. I think those kinds of things happen best when there are a minimum of distractions and it allows us to have the minimum of distractions from our daily lives. The city commission has a pretty small budget, but it is something we have decided is important enough to spend money on.”

Merriss said holding the retreat in the city of Decatur would cost $4,400. The city commission has its regular meetings twice a month at city hall in downtown Decatur.

Decaturish will be unable to attend this meeting due to the cost of the trip and travel distance required. But it is a public meeting and anyone is welcome to attend, provided they can afford to travel there and back both days or stay the night at the resort.

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