City of Decatur to update non-discrimination, equity language in all city policiesThe Decatur City Commission met on Monday, July 19, for its first hybrid meeting. The board discussed impact fees, the consolidated fee schedule and updating the non-discrimination and equity language in all city policies. Photo by Zoe Seiler.
Decatur, GA — The city of Decatur is making plans to update the non-discrimination and equity language in all city policies and purchasing documents.
The city will update the city’s financial policies to require vendors who do business with the city to have a non-discrimination policy. The City Commission, at its July 19 meeting, gave city staff the green light to review and revise city policies to bring them more in line with the current non-discrimination ordinance.
“The purpose is to ensure consistency across all current and future policies and to re-enforce the city’s commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity,” Assistant City Manager Linda Harris said. “I recommend we review, revise and update all city policies to reflect the language stated in the ordinance.”
The city’s non-discrimination ordinance was adopted in 2019 and prohibits “all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, marital status, familial status, or veteran/military status of all persons who live in, work in or visit the City of Decatur,” according to the agenda packet.
Harris also recommended that the city update its current financial policies. Current the policies state that “the city of Decatur will provide an equal opportunity for all businesses to participate in city contracts regardless of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, political affiliation, age, handicapped status, sexual orientation, sexual preference, or transgender status.”
The policies also state that the city will actively seek to make sure minority-owned and operated firms have the opportunity to participate in the purchasing process. The city will also not knowingly work with businesses that discriminate or permit discrimination.
This section of the financial policy would be updated to acknowledge that “the city will provide opportunities for all businesses to participate in contracts regardless of actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, marital status, familial status, or veteran/military status,” according to the agenda packet.
The updated language goes on to say that “the City will not knowingly conduct business with contractors who do not have a non-discrimination policy in place that prohibits discrimination based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, marital status, familial status, or veteran/military status.”
The policy would also apply to future banking partners of the city and they would have to have a non-discrimination policy in place, City Manager Andrea Arnold said.
The updated financial policies still state that the city will seek to provide opportunities to minority-owned businesses in the purchasing process. Commissioner Lesa Mayer wondered what that looks like in practice.
“What I’m really looking for is whether or not this statement means that we are not stopping all people from having an opportunity or if it truly means that we as a city are taking action to encourage minority owned businesses to apply for, respond to proposals, be a part of our vendor network and relationship,” Mayer said.
Mayer would like to see the city shift its practice of how vendors are chosen as she’s noticed that the city often goes with the lowest bidder, which is a reasonable and fiscally responsible way of choosing a qualified supplier, she said.
“I appreciate having a non-discrimination ordinance, but I’d really like to see that shift into a more robust equity practice when it comes to the way that we deal with suppliers,” Mayer said. “But I would love for us to implement some sort of, if it’s a percentage target, or some type of target that would allow us to really commit to supporting minority businesses whose prices might be higher because they haven’t had access to funding that other business have or access to the same resources that other businesses have.”
She added that she would prefer the city’s approach shift to something more active and focused on equity as opposed to equality.
— In other business, the City Commission held a public hearing and voted to submit the capital improvements element of the development impact fee study to the Atlanta Regional Commission for review by the ARC and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The purpose of the review is to make sure the city is in compliance with the Georgia Development Impact Fee Act.
The city has been considering the use of impact fees for the past several years and formed an advisory committee in October 2019 to explore how they might be applied to Decatur.
Impact fees are used to offset the increased cost to a city or county for providing additional infrastructure and services to new residents or businesses, Decaturish previously reported.
Decatur is considering using impact fees in two main areas — public safety and parks, recreation and open space. Georgia law strictly regulates which cities can implement impact fees, how high the fees can be and what they can be implemented for, John Maximuk, director of design, environment and construction for the city of Decatur, previously said.
Ross+associates is leading the impact fee study, which consists of developing a capital improvements element, impact fee ordinance and fee schedule. The capital improvements element contains forecasts on population, housing and employment, a section for adjustments and credits, and public facility service area information, levels of service, and project cost estimates, according to the agenda packet.
— The City Commission approved an update to the consolidated fee schedule. The board discussed the updates in June and there were concerns related to recreation fees.
“Fees help to offset or even eliminate the amount that taxes are used to pay for certain services and activities that may be utilized by only a few,” City Clerk and Budget Director Meredith Roark said.
The park pavilion rental fee will be half day and full day rates rather than hourly rates.
Roark previously proposed an increase in the pool reservation fee from $300 to $400 for two hours for residents, which is based on party size. The fee would increase from $350 to $450 for non-residents. However, city staff rescinded that proposal for the current pool season, Roark said.
Roark also previously proposed an increase to Children and Youth Services camp fees but after further review city staff found that CYS is not changing their fees, Roark said. Tennis camp fees offered by the Active Living will increase from $230 to $260 in order to remain consistent with CYS camp prices.
“Even with that proposed increase from $230 to $260 a week, that will assist in covering all of our direct costs. The tennis camp costs remain below the market rate of other metro Atlanta camps,” Roark said.
Scholarships are still available for CYS and Active Living camps. The consolidated fee schedule will go into effect on Aug.1.
The City Commission meets next on Monday, Aug. 2, at 6 p.m. for a work session and 7:30 p.m for the regular meeting. The meeting will be available virtually and in person.
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