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City Commission to meet in person for the first time since March

Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 5:42 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Tallahassee City Commission will meet in person for the first time on Wednesday since the pandemic began.

New safety precautions inside City Hall means the meeting will look vastly different than it did pre-pandemic.

Glass partitions have been placed between each City Commissioner, as well as between City staffers in the back of the Commission Chambers.

Temperature checks will be required for everyone upon entering the building; masks are required at all times, and you will keep your mask on during the temperature check.

There will be one-way entrances and exits into the Commission Chamber, with designated doors for each.

The number of chairs in the Commission Chamber is also drastically reduced; there will be chairs and monitors playing the meeting in the atrium area outside of Chambers.

The podium public commenters used pre-pandemic is gone entirely; in its place is a standalone microphone.

Technical issues have plagued some public commenters during virtual meetings; Mayor John Dailey asks for patience as Commissioners and the public return to City Hall.

“We’re going to keep moving forward on all platforms; I think that this shows that the City of Tallahassee is one of the leaders in public comment across the state. Look, you can come in person, if you want to participate virtually you can, if you want to participate on the phone, you can,” said Dailey.

There are multiple items of interest coming up at Wednesday’s Commission, which also includes a special session of the CRA Board.

Code Enforcement Fine Amnesty Program

Director of Housing and Community Services Abena Ojetayo will present an Amnesty Program to Commissioners for certain fines and liens.

According to the agenda item, the program would be for “cases that have achieved compliance yet have fines outstanding, as well as a significant backlog of cases that were adjudicated under an older code enforcement process and remain out of compliance.”

The goals of the program include financial relief, which could prompt property owners to “address lingering code violations.”

The proposed program would be offered for a set, limited time of three months in early 2021, for any property owners with an active case that was adjudicated before June 17, 2020.

The agenda item also looks at the fiscal impact of the program: “While outstanding fines to date are estimated to total $35M, the City historically collects on less than 2% of accrued fines over the life of a code enforcement case.

Based on a historical recovery trend of less than 2% of accrued fines, staff would expect to realize no more than roughly $700,000 from current outstanding fines.”

Under the program, the Board/Magistrate fines would be forgiven; property owners would only have to pay administrative costs, which range from $50-$350.

TEMPO Foundation

City Commissioners will weigh establishing a 501(c)(3) organization for the TEMPO program. This would allow the existing Community Services Department to facilitate donations to TEMPO program participants.

According to the agenda item, program participants find themselves in need of certain supplies, including computers and school supplies, clothing, and other education-related costs.

Interested groups have already approached the Community Services Department hoping to donate; this classification would allow them to do so.

Other existing City foundations include the Tallahassee Friends of Our Parks Foundation, Inc.; the Tallahassee Senior Center Foundation; and the Smith-Williams Foundation.

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