City vehicle – Decatur city manager wants waiver

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt April 7, 2014
Decatur City Hall

Decatur City Hall

There’s a curious item on the city commission’s agenda for Monday, April 7.

Commissioners will consider a “Resolution Exempting City Manager’s Vehicle from Decal Requirements.”

There’s a public hearing on the issue prior to the vote.

The explanation for the resolution and public hearing says, “During the 2000 Session the Georgia General Assembly passed HB 648 which amended the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) to include section 36-80-20 that requires every motor vehicle which is owned or leased by any municipality to have affixed to the front door on each side a clearly visible decal or seal identifying the municipality. However, the statute also allows for vehicles to be excepted from provisions of O.C.G.A. § 36-80-20 upon adoption of a resolution or ordinance no more than 14 days following a public hearing.

“Consistent with provisions of the City Manager’s employment agreement, the City provides a vehicle to the City Manager for unrestricted use. It is recommended that the City Commission hold a public hearing on April 7, 2014 and adopt a resolution exempting the City Manager’s vehicle consistent with provisions of O.C.G.A. § 36-80-20.”

Decaturish reached out to City Manager Peggy Merriss for more information, but she hasn’t responded yet. The City Commission agendas are published on Friday afternoon and Merriss received an email about it Friday evening. On Monday, Merriss sent an email providing additional information about the agenda item.  “As part of my contract, the City provides a vehicle for both professional and personal use. Because personal use of the vehicle is allowed after normal business hours, the car is unmarked,” she said.

Merriss said the city grants the waiver each year.

“The waiver is required annually,” she said. “This is the process we have gone through every year since 2000. There was no requirement for a waiver previous to 2000.”

The code section also applies to counties, school systems, regional commissions, boards and public authorities.

In other business at the April 7 meeting, commissioners will also hold a public meeting on the Parkwood Annexation request where they will consider the recently-released service delivery report. The city has updated that report and corrected some of its information. When the city annexes the neighborhood, it will also be adding 14 students to the school system. It will cost City Schools of Decatur $7,800 per student, the report says.

Commissioners will also receive a petition from the residents of the 300 block of South McDonough Street to make their street resident-only parking. There will be annexation petitions on the agenda for four parcels on Conway Road, two on Scott Boulevard, and 27 parcels on Derrydown Way. The meeting will begin at 5:30 pm with an update on the revision of the proposed tree ordinance. The regular meeting begins at 7:30 pm.

The commission meets at city hall, located at 509 North McDonough Street.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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  • Steve Vogel

    C’mon Dan. Find something important. As Ms Merriss said, the waiver has done every year since 2000. If you’re looking for untoward things in government, run after DeKalb county, where plenty has been and continues to be documented, including the lack of action on any sort of meaningful ethics oversight body.

    • I cover DeKalb County, too..

    • Frankly

      So how much has this vehicle cost taxpayers in all these years? And really, how many vehicles does the City provide, to whom, at what cost? Decatur is roughly four square miles, and walkable. To some people this actually is important, Steve.

  • Chris Billingsley

    Thanks Dan. This is what a free press is suppose to do, unlock the doors of government and shine a ray of light to see what’s going on. The Framers had this in mind when they approved, along with the states, the First Amendment. And as I recall from my teaching years, Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “… If it were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without blogsites or blogsites without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should also mean that every man and woman in Decatur should read them and comment as if he or she is proud of the names given to them by their parents… (or something like that).
    Keep up the good work Dan. And thanks Steve for using your real name.
    God Bless America.

  • Shawn Murphy Hitchcock

    I am now curious as to how much we the people are paying for the vehicle? And insurance? I never knew a car was provided to the City Manager. Interesting. I continue to learn something new about Decatur every time I log into Decaturish. Thank you.

    • You’re quite welcome. I didn’t find it unusual that the city manager had a vehicle. It’s not uncommon, though City employees have to do a lot of traveling on city business and I’m pretty sure the top administrators have city-provided vehicles. I was more interested in the waiver and curious why the legislature felt the need to pass such a law in the first place. Thanks for reading.

      • Shawn Murphy Hitchcock

        I am not opposed to the City Manager being provided an auto, just wonder what it costs us. And, like you, wonder why the City Manager prefers not to display the logo of the city she works for.

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