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Decatur’s budget plan anticipates a second wave of COVID-19

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Decatur’s budget plan anticipates a second wave of COVID-19

Decatur City Hall
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Decatur, Ga. — During the City Commission’s May 18 meeting, City Manager Andrea Arnold announced the city’s 2020-2021 budget plan anticipates a “second wave” of COVID-19 in the fall or winter.

The city of Decatur has previously been prepared for many outcomes, having released a Pandemic Preparedness and Response plan in May 2009.

The details of the current budget plan are not yet available online but will be by Wednesday, May 20. The City Commission plans to hold its full budget meeting on June 1.

During Monday’s meeting, Mayor Patti Garrett and Commissioner David Junger also proclaimed this week Public Works Week, honoring all public works employees throughout the city.

The first agenda action item was to approve the Parkwood Neighborhood Traffic Calming Plan. Residents were invited to comment and expressed frustration at how long the process had taken to be approved.

Dan Mallory, who served as part of the neighborhood committee proposing the plan, said, “We’re very excited to see that actual improvements are on the cusp, but I could not do my job [in] leading this process if I didn’t comment on behalf of our neighbors: we’re very frustrated and disappointed at the time it took to arrive at something we appeared to be talking about within the first four weeks at the beginning of this process in 2017.”

The residents were concerned about non-residential traffic taking up neighborhood streets and making it into “a thoroughfare.”

Scott Candler IV, another resident of Parkwood, said, “It’s troubling, especially when you’re raising small children, and especially in this time when one of our primary modes of enjoyment is to go for walks. Just having to take such close care at every intersection, at every street, it’s just — it’s difficult. It’s not the way I remember growing up in Decatur, and I understand the demographics have changed, but from walking all over Decatur I feel that the effects of that have changed more than others, and our Parkwood neighborhood has been especially hard hit by that.”

The City Commission unanimously approved the traffic calming measures.

The commission also approved an amended version of the Pandemic Leave Policy, which unfortunately resulted in 22 part-time workers being furloughed because the city “is at a financial point where [they] are no longer able to offer administrative leave with pay” to those part-time employees.

Commissioners Lesa Mayer and other commissioners also commented about the need for more dialogue in the community about race. The commissioners didn’t offer any specifics, but there have been recent controversies involving City Schools of Decatur students. Recently, videos emerged of Decatur High students using racial slurs. Another recent incident involved a white Decatur student confronting a black Oakhurst resident at his home over a Facebook post. While the young men and their defenders say the confrontation was not motivated by racism, people of color and their allies say the incident “reeks of white privilege,” as local civil rights attorney Mawuli Davis put it.

Mayer stated, “Circumstances at both the micro level and macro level in communities across Georgia, nationally, and even close to home have triggered some tough discussions about race and equity. I think it’s important to recognize that those discussions are happening.”

Mayer continued, “I wanted to express to members of the community that I am committed to working with members of the city staff to create some kind of way to have those meaningful and safe discussions, ask safe questions, and deepen our understanding of each other and our experiences.” 

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