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A Few Georgia Statutes of Interest

Cities are prohibited from funding a "straw vote." That means a city cannot spend public money for a public opinion referendum absent some statutory or constitutional authority. (Ga. Const. Art. 3, Section 2, Para. 3.)

Ordinances of one council cannot bind a succeeding council (OCGA 36-30-3). For example, a municipal council cannot adopt an ordinance that prevents succeeding councils from freely legislating a city fee structure. This code section applies equally to municipal contracts.

Elected municipal officers may not hold other municipal offices within the government (OCGA 36-30-4). However, elected officials can serve as volunteer firefighters as long as they receive no compensation other than for actual expenses incurred, a per diem for service, contributions to the Georgia Firefighters’ Pension fund, workers’ compensation coverage, or any combination of these items. Elected officials may also hold an office with another governmental entity other than their own unless specifically prohibited to do so by the city charter.

Elected officials may not vote upon any question in which they have a personal or financial interest (OCGA 36-30-6).

Law enforcement officers cannot be compensated by commission or a percentage of fines (OCGA 36-30-9).

Cemeteries and burial grounds cannot be knowingly disturbed without a permit from the local governing authority (OCGA Title 36 Chapter 72).

Cities are generally prohibited from contributing or donating public funds to private or charitable causes (Ga. Const. Art. 3, Section 6, Para. 6 and Art. 9, Section 2, Para. 8).

Cities are prohibited from, directly or indirectly, making contributions or engaging in any activity to influence the outcome of an election or referendum (OCGA 21-5-30.2).

The geographic area proposing incorporation must have a population of at least 200 persons and an average residential population of at least 200 persons per square mile for the total area. At least 60% of the area must be developed, with the area subdivided into lots and tracts so at least 60% of the total acreage consists of lots five acres or less in size. The author of the bill granting a municipal charter must certify and provide evidence that the statutory requirements have been met. Also, municipalities must maintain minimum standards, such as providing at least three of a list of services, to remain “active.” (O.C.G.A. 36-31-4)