The Sandy Springs City Council will consider declaring a “local emergency” for the coronavirus pandemic on March 17, according to a meeting agenda.
According to a document posted on the agenda, the emergency ordinance would postpone all hearing and meetings of city boards, committees and commissions for the next 30 days. That is with the exception of council meetings, which may be conducted via teleconference, without the requirement of having a quorum present in person, so long as notice is provided and access is afforded to the public, the document said.
On or before the 30th day after the date the ordinance is adopted, the mayor or two council members could re-enact or repeal the ordinance, the document said. Otherwise, the ordinance would automatically expire after 30 days.
If adopted, the ordinance would go into effect immediately, the document said.
The council agenda also includes discussion of the city’s operational readiness during the pandemic.
Due to the pandemic, the city is barring the public from attending the meeting in person. The meeting, scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., will be shown only in livestream on the city’s Facebook page at facebook.com/SandySpringsGA.
According to David Hudson, an attorney and board member of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, under Georgia’s Open Meetings Act, emergency meetings can be held virtually if the public is allowed access.
“There is no specific language addressing the members meeting in person but giving the public only audio or audiovisual access,” Hudson said in an email. “However, I believe that what the Council proposes to do meets the intent of the Open Meetings Act: an emergency and the public will be given audiovisual access.”
This story has been updated with information about the emergency ordinance that was briefly published on the agenda and with a comment from David Hudson.
–John Ruch and Hannah Greco