DUNWOODY, Ga. — The Dunwoody Charter Commission voted unanimously Oct. 5 to propose an addition to the city charter allowing for the implementation of emergency powers by city officials.
Charter Commission Chairman Robert Wittenstein offered some context for the proposal, using as an example the killing of Armaud Aubrey.
Arbery, a 25-year-old unarmed Black man, was pursued and fatally shot by while being pursued by three White residents near Brunswick, Ga. The killing and delayed investigation sparked debates and unrest in many cities in the United States.
“When Ahmaud Aubrey was killed in south Georgia, there were a whole bunch of demonstrations, and a bunch of cities around Dunwoody started implementing curfews, and we found ourselves in a position where there was no one who could authorize a curfew to be imposed,” said Wittenstein. “So, what we are trying to accomplish is a process by which the city council can acknowledge there is an ordinance and in a short time, can implement some rapid changes to deal with the emergency.”
According to the resolution, the city, with the vote of three council members, can enact a state of emergency for up to 30 days. The declaration would not allow the city to raise taxes, rezone property, grant a franchise, change zoning regulations or borrow money using those emergency powers.
The law would allow the mayor to suspend normal city operations and, working with the city manager and police chief, issue and implement procedures to deal with the stated emergency.
In other action at the Oct. 5 meeting, commission members voted to allow for the salaries of the mayor and the council to include a pay increase equal to cost-of-living adjustments, and changed the expense rate from a stated amount to a reimbursement method.
Currently, the mayor is paid $16,000 annually, with a $5,000 discretionary fund for reimbursements. Council members receive $12,000, with $3,000 allowed for expenses.
The council also voted to change the date for the swearing in of new city officials from the first Monday of the year to the first regularly scheduled meeting of the year.
The recommended changes to the charter must be approved in the Georgia General Assembly in order to set up a voter referendum. Residents would then have final say on all changes.
The commission also discussed proposed agenda items for an upcoming charter commission meeting, including changes to the calendar as it relates to passage of the city’s budget, and revisiting the plurality-vs.-majority issue regarding the election of the mayor.