Stone Mountain City Council discusses vaccine and testing mandate for city employees

Registered Nurse Alexus Parker administers a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to a senior citizen at the Lou Walker Senior Center in Stonecrest on Feb. 10. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Stone Mountain, GA — The Stone Mountain City Council discussed public works requests, a draft of a COVID testing and vaccine mandate for city employees, the fiscal year 2022 budget proposal, and more at a virtual work session on Tuesday, Nov. 16.

Because this was a work session and not a regular meeting, no votes were taken. The next City Council regular meeting will be held on Dec. 7.

City Manager ChaQuias Miller-Thornton presented a memorandum regarding a COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandate for city employees.

Oasis Health Care Service, the healthcare facility proposed for testing if a testing mandate should be put into place, is located at 813 Main Street. Employees would be asked to be tested each Monday regardless of vaccination status. Tests are free to employees.

Council member Diana Roe Hollis asked about City Council members being included in the testing as well, although they do not work at City Hall daily.

Council member Clint Monroe said he supports the idea of Council members being included in the testing mandate. “I would gladly do that [get tested] at any nearby facility. … The County provides it for free as well, just go online and ask for a free COVID test and you can find one near you.”

The City Manager is currently drafting the vaccine mandate memorandum. If the vaccine mandate was voted on and passed, employees would be required to provide either proof of full vaccination status or an approved reasonable accommodation to be exempted from the requirements.

Exemptions include a disability covered by the ADA or a “sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance (covered by Title VII). Those exempted may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation, “for example, unvaccinated employees entering the workplace might wear a face mask, work at a social distance from co-workers or non-employees, work a modified shift, get periodic tests for COVID-19, be given the opportunity to telework, or finally, accept a reassignment.”

In other business:

– The Public Works department discussed planned improvements to Stone Mountain’s parks and playgrounds.

A letter from CPL Architecture, Engineering, and Planning to Public Works Director Jim Tavenner provides a project description that includes improvements for three of the city’s parks. The plans are:

  • To renovate the restroom at Leila Mason Park to bring it up to ADA standards
  • To renovate Medlock Park’s existing concession building and also add an ADA-compliant restroom to that building
  • And to fine grade and turf the baseball fields at McCurdy Park to improve drainage and performance

The three projects are being bundled together, and the fee proposal for the survey phase, construction documents phase, and construction phase is $57,700.

During the meeting, residents also expressed concerns about updating the playgrounds, walking trails, and pickleball courts.

City Councilmember Clint Monroe said that getting walking trails put down in the parks should be “a very high priority” and “we should get some shovels in the ground.”

Council member Diana Roe Hollis noted that walking trails should not be made of gravel and should instead be made of smooth dirt because gravel trails pose too much of a risk for injuries.

– A drainage improvement project has also been proposed by CPL Architecture, Engineering, and Planning to collect stormwater runoff at Main Street, a recurring issue for the city of Stone Mountain. The city currently has eight outstanding stormwater projects to address.

– The City Council officially presented the FY2022 budget proposal. A public hearing to take public comments on the budget proposal will be held on Dec. 7.

Funds allocated to Public Safety in Personal Services/Benefits for the department are expected to increase by $65,431, “attributed in large part to the 2022 anticipation of full staffing level with the police department. For a significant portion of 2021, there were 2-3 vacant positions within the department.”

City Manager Miller-Thornton discussed the importance of a natural gas-powered generator for City Hall/Police Department Facility, stating that they have lost work days at City Hall due to power outages. The generator would cost $95,000.

– The Stone Mountain Downtown Development Authority is currently reviewing an Intergovernmental Agreement document for presentation to the City Council for consideration. The council will review the document on Dec. 7 and consider approval on Dec. 14.

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