County commission approves ordinances changes
Don’t expect to find grinders, pipes and bongs on the shelves of convenience stores in Polk County anymore after Polk County Commissioners approved a new ordinance going into effect this month.
Commissioners unanimously approved a new ordinance that will make it illegal for drug- related objects like glass pipes used for smoking marijuana to be sold in stores in the unincorporated areas of the county.
According to Commissioner Scotty Tillery, the ordinance essentially mirrors one enacted by the City of Cedartown that keeps drug-related items off the shelves.
The ordinance that passed during the Tuesday, June 9, commission meeting targets the following items: any pipes that could be used to ingest drugs, syringes, masks, clips, cocaine spoons and vials, electric pipes, air driven pipes and items commonly used to process drugs.
“This is just another tool for our officers and drug enforcement agents to have in their box when they are enforcing the law,” Tillery said. “It’s effective and will help clean up a lot of problems we have here.”
County Manager Matt Denton said police will conduct a survey of stores in the unincorporated parts of Polk County that sell items now banned, and those not in compliance will have between 15 to 30 days before facing possible prosecution.
It will also be illegal for individuals to sell these items in personal transactions, according to the ordinance’s opening paragraph.
Penalties for violating the ordinance include a minimum fine of $300 and a maximum of $1,000, plus loss or suspension of their Occupational Tax Certificates.
Commissioners approved two more ordinance amendments and changes during their June regular session.
Changes were made to the ordinance that applies to county employees who are taking extended time off for disability or sickness. The change related to the part of the ordinance governing how administrators will handle that time.
Denton said the county’s amendments to the ordinance simply clarify how employees will pay their own health insurance during time off for disabled leave. Employees may be granted up to 40 weeks of time off, with 24 weeks or six months of that granted automatically. Any additional time will require approval from the full board of commissioners.
The ordinance also clarifies that employees cease to earn vacation, sick time, and retirement benefits. They must also pay the monthly premiums for health insurance with the county while they are on leave.
The second ordinance change sought to clean up and clarify county spending rules as they relate to directors of departments and the county manager.
Previously, department directors and employees required immediate permission to spend up to $500 before having to ask permission. The change allows departments to now spend upward of $1,000 without immediate clearance, though Denton said he will still be keeping close track of the purchases.
The way the ordinance was applied was unnecessarily time consuming as employees had to make multiple calls to get permission for ordering items such as replacement parts of vehicles or to make a bulk office supply purchase, for instance.
Currently, Denton himself can spend upward of $5,000 without having to bring it before a committee, and $10,000 before it requires a full board. The ordinance also allows for Denton to spend $10,000 on professional services before having to bring it before a board vote.
Denton explained the changes were mainly made to ensure spending is being done in the right way and to continue to keep expenditures in various departments as low as possible, but also to ensure he stays informed of spending to ensure it stays within the annual budget allowances.
“A chain of accountability is what we’re seeking in this process,” Denton said. “I think we’ve done a good job to keep that in place and strengthen it.”