The Board of Commissioners earlier this month passed three ordinances related to emergency management.
The first of the three ordinances allows certain ordinances in place and other formalities to be waived in the event of an emergency, disaster or enemy attack. The ordinance would allow the commissioners to meet outside their normal meeting area, reduce or suspend permit fees, temporarily suspend the enforcement of ordinances in the county and allow for temporary dwellings to be brought into the county to be put into any zoning area.
The second ordinance deals with price gouging and would prohibit businesses from overcharging customers during a state of emergency.
Phil Jones, county administrator, said the ordinance relating to price gouging relates to some of the practices of some businesses during times of emergency in states like Louisiana and Florida.
"Price gouging comes from areas where people come in and charge three, four or five times their normal rate for services," Jones said. "This ordinance gives the authority for the county to be able to do some things about it…we can identify the issues and problems and confront the people."The third ordinance approved by the commissioners would impose a curfew when and where deemed appropriate in the event of a state of an emergency only.
The ordinance says some people would be exempt from the curfews – including police, fire and EMS workers – and says others could be exempt too for work purposes under the discretion of the commissioners.
According to the Code of Ordinances of the State of Georgia, a state of emergency is declared by the governor when the threat or occurrence of a disaster is severe enough to require large efforts to prevent or deal with the damage.
Jones said the ordinances are important because in times of emergency time can be of the essence.
"The rationale behind (the ordinances) is that in an emergency there are certain things you need to be able to do immediately," he said. "If they were not in place we would have to have called meetings to make decisions. In an emergency situation (the board of commissioners) need to be able to make decisions and move on."
Under the ordinances, the commission chairman or his designee has the power to enact the ordinances when the governor declares a state of emergency.