ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Volunteers who serve on Alpharetta’s advisory boards, commissions and authorities have a new incentive to endure some of the long meetings they sign up for.
The City Council voted unanimously Jan. 25 to extend to board members and their immediate families a waiver on fees to participate in a variety of classes, programs and other activities offered through the Recreation, Parks and Cultural Services Department.
Alpharetta extends the same fee waiver to city employees.
The measure was sponsored by council members Dan Merkel and Ben Burnett, and it includes close to a dozen people who serve as alternates on various boards.
“We can’t say thank you to people that volunteer their time to us enough,” Burnett said. “If you’ve got young kids, you can save lots of money, and … I think our parks and recreation and cultural services are really something that sets this community apart.”
Burnett also said the measure could serve to draw more community participation in government.
“What a way to encourage people that want to move here, that want to be involved, to know that if you’ll put a little skin in the game, we’re not afraid to say thank you,” he said.
Alpharetta has 10 citizen advisory boards or commissions, all but two of them are made up of seven members. The Alpharetta Recreation Commission has nine members, and the Board of Ethics consists of 14.
Board and commission members are paid $50 per meeting, and most meet once a month. The Board of Zoning Appeals, Board of Ethics, and the Codes Enforcement Board meet only when a case arises.
By law, members of the Development Authority cannot be paid.
Also at the Jan. 25 meeting, the City Council adopted on second reading a change to its Safe Hotel Ordinance. The ordinance, enacted in 2019, sets penalties for hotels that generate a large number of calls for police service.
The amendment changes what sort of calls will be counted against an establishment. Originally, the ordinance counted all calls that resulted in a representative being dispatched or directed to the hotel, alleged evidence of criminal activity, resulted in discovery of criminal activity or imminent threat to safety.
The new wording sets a new standard, counting only those calls that are “criminal in nature.” It also lowers the threshold for penalties. Under the original ordinance, penalties kicked in when a hotel originated more than 30 calls per 100 rooms per year. The revised ordinance lowers that threshold to more than three calls.
Alpharetta has some 30 hotels, varying in size and amenities. The city relies heavily on its hotel/motel tax to fund marketing and economic development initiatives.
Public Safety Director John Robison said that after the first year, no hotels exceeded the limits that would place them in tier 3, although there were five that fell into its tier 2 category.
Each tier constitutes a number of calls criminal in nature each year. Hotels with more than three are in tier 2 and must show it will take measures to improve. Those with more than eight calls a year are in tier 3 and can be penalized with fines up to $5,000 and other penalties.
Robison said that refining the ordinance was an undertaking aimed at taking the big picture of all calls and narrowing it to a specific range of responses by emergency personnel.
“If we were going to have an ordinance in place, we thought this would be a better way of doing it,” Robison told the council at a Jan. 11 workshop on the proposal.
City Council members approved the changes by unanimous vote.