Two councilmen fined $27,000

Two Atlanta City Council members will pay nearly $27,000 in fines and penalties for ethics violations related to their council expense accounts.

The city Ethics Board found that at-large Councilman Ceasar Mitchell, a mayoral candidate, violated the city’s rules by spending $15,000 from his expense account in 2006 and 2008 to hire his brother, David Mitchell, to help put together town hall meetings, outings for senior citizens to the Georgia Aquarium and Ceasar Mitchell T-shirts.

Elected officials and employees are prohibited from hiring immediate family members.

Mitchell also answered no to questions on city financial disclosure forms in 2007 and 2008 about whether any family members benefited from doing business with the city.

Mitchell must pay two fines totaling $15,000 by March 1.

Dist. 2 Councilman Kwanza Hall spent $11,200 from his council account since 2006 to pay NGP Software, a political consulting firm, to provide information about voters in his district. The board found that Hall used the information to sent three political e-mail messages.

Hall has paid a $750 fine and is required to pay $11,200 more within six months.

Fire deaths in city decreased last year

Atlanta had the lowest number of fire fatalities in more than a decade last year.

Six people died in fires in 2008, according to a spokesman for the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department. Ten died in fires in the city in 2004, followed by 11 fatalities in 2005, and eight each in 2006 and 2007.

The reduction in deaths was attributed to educational and smoke alarm programs.

City agency offers free income tax work

The Atlanta Workforce Development Agency is offering free income tax preparation for individuals or couples who earned less than $39,000 last year.

The offer began this month at the agency’s headquarters, 818 Pollard Blvd.

Residents need to bring photo identification and Social Security cards for everyone on the return. They also must have W-2s, 1099 forms and all other forms reflecting earned income, plus the name of their child care provider and bank account and routing numbers on any official document.

For more information, go to www.atlantaworkforce.org.