After complaints from leaders of Fulton County’s cities about the division of federal money to battle COVID-19, county officials have agreed to meet regularly with city officials to discuss the appropriations and other issues such as transportation, transit and dewar service needs.

Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts agreed to meet with Fulton’s mayors as often as they’d like, Paul said. County Manager Dick Anderson agreed to invite city managers to join his twice weekly COVID-19 incident update meetings in the follow up phone call he and Pitts had with the mayors on Sept. 1

Thirteen mayors from cities in the county – all the cities except Atlanta, which gets a separate allocation from the federal government to fight COVID-19 – met with the County Commission on Aug. 28 to discuss lack of communication and what the mayors saw as shortcomings in disbursement of $104 million in CARES Act funds given to the county. 

Fulton initially allocated $2.5 million for the cities, but later raised the amount to $15 million after the cities publicly threatened to sue the county.

County officials said they would discuss the situation during the commission’s meeting Sept. 2. But at that meeting, Pitts announced the discussion would be closed to the public because of the possibility of litigation.

The new Sandy Springs city logo.

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul told city council members in their meeting that Pitts agreed to meet with the mayors weekly, monthly, quarterly or however often they’d like. “I think quarterly is adequate,” Paul said. “And I’m elated that we are going to go back to that.”

The county may increase its disbursement of CARES Act funds, he said.

Sandy Springs already has incurred more than $4 million in expenses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s approaching $5 million, Paul said. The CARES Act funding is specifically for reimbursement of unanticipated, unexpected and unbudgeted expenditures related to the COVID pandemic.

The ambulance service in the city has a growing deficit caused by the coronavirus, with more sanitization of ambulances necessary and even more protective equipment. The city also has spent money on personal protective equipment for its first responders. Fulton County did not start distributing the equipment it bought with CARES Act funds until Aug. 1, Matthew Kallmyer, director, Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency, told commissioners during their Sept. 2 meeting.

Anna Roach, Fulton’s chief operating office, said county officials should follow up with Sandy Springs about the ambulance service and to see in what ways the county government can provide support. “I think we should ask all the cities,” Commissioner Liz Hausman said. “I would think if it’s happening in one area, it would be happening in all areas.”

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.