County com­mis­sion ap­proves or­di­nances changes

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By KEVIN MYRICK Edi­tor

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.”

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