“I am holding my nose when I vote yes on this,” said Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker, who has been leading the group of mayors in this matter.
Four counties — Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett — received direct CARES Act funding. Leaders of the 48 municipalities within those counties were confused about where they should ask for a share of the funds. In July, Gov. Brian Kemp told those cities they would have to go to their counties for payouts.
The federal government used Fulton’s population to arrive at $104 million, leaving city leaders wanting most of the money because essentially all Fulton residents live inside of a city. County leaders argue that they acted (and spent) fast to curb the spread of the virus and help all Fulton residents affected.
Bodker said the mayors want $70 million in total and have been negotiating with the state for another payout.
When asked by his council about the status of those talks with the state, Bodker said: “I think you should assume this is the only CARES Act funding we will get at this time."
The cities must spend fast because all the funds go back to Washington D.C. if not used by Dec. 30.
That led to discussions about how cities were going to spend that money. Some council members wanted to put the money toward public safety salaries, others wanted to give it to business owners. But no city has given a full plan of how it’ll spend the money, in part because federal guidance keeps changing.
Mayors have been slamming county leaders as they pitch their deals to unenthusiastic and skeptical city council members.
“Fulton County has dialed back the clock," said Roswell Mayor Lori Henry. She said the relationship with Fulton is like it was 15 years ago during the knockdown fights of the cityhood movement away from county rule.
City leaders say they’ve never been more united against Fulton.
“They may have won this battle, but they haven’t won this war,” said Fairburn Mayor Elizabeth Carr-Hurst.
Negotiations will be different when the county tries to pitch mayors on hot-button items like the upcoming county transit deal, she said.
“Fulton’s done a very effective job over the years of dividing the cities based on either racial tones or demographics or socio-economics or North-South,” Bodker said. “They won’t be doing that anytime soon. The 14 mayors are standing strong together.”
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