Milton's City Council on Friday evening adopted an emergency ordinance to activate elements of the City's Code to vest its Mayor with special, temporary powers in response to the rapidly evolving situation related to COVID-19.
In an effort to be transparent and allow for debate, Mayor Joe Lockwood and Council members held Friday's meeting to discuss and activate specific elements at Section 18-25 of Milton's Code of Ordinances pertaining to special powers granted to the Mayor in a state of emergency. (That part of the Code can be found here:
.) The proposed ordinance also included giving the Mayor authority to temporarily suspend ordinances and rules if efficiently doing so would benefit Milton citizens and businesses impacted by this coronavirus.
After extensive discussion among Council members, Mayor Joe Lockwood, City attorney Ken Jarrard and citizens, the Council made three alterations to the originally proposed emergency ordinance. One strikes language authorizing the Mayor "to seize, take for temporary use or condemn any property for the protection of the public." Another clarifies that the Mayor would have the power to only "sell, lend, give or distribute" only City "property or supplies" - not private property. Lastly, it adds that any power exercised by the Mayor should be immediately communicated to the City Council, City Manager, City's legal department and citizens. Generally, all these powers for the mayor are outlined in the City's Code of Ordinances, but the Council recognized they would not likely apply in this particular situation.
All six Council members - including Paul Moore, voting by phone - approved the amended emergency ordinance.
The new emergency ordinance supersedes the one approved on Monday. It is temporary, extending 30 days from March 20, unless the Council approves an extension or votes to suspend the ordinance.
Among other elements, the measure gives Mayor Lockwood the power to suspend ordinances, rules and regulations in connection with the coronavirus emergency. Lockwood and Jarrard both explained that the intention is to make the government more nimble, so that it can have more flexibility to act quickly and decisively in the public's best interests.
Friday's City Council meeting can be viewed, in full, here: