As the Novel Coronavirus 2019, or COVID-19, spread through Georgia, Macon-Bibb County departments and agencies began planning for how they could change operations to help protect the health of employees and the community, all while maintaining expected and needed services. These changes have been made throughout this week, as it was possible.

“I’m proud of what our departments have done to come together and figure out a way to provided needed services, while protecting each other’s health,” says County Manager Dr. Keith Moffett. “This is a challenging time for families, and we wanted to find a way to support both our families and our community.”

Major changes for the public include:

•The deadline for business licenses has been extended to May 6.

•Commission Meetings are closed to the public, but will be simultaneously broadcast at www.facebook.com/maconbibbcounty and www.maconbibb.us.

•Courts and trials are being rescheduled, and courts are providing alternate ways in which to access their services.

•The Tax Commissioner’s Office is drive-through and online only.

•County Extension classes and 4H programs have been canceled.

All offices are either limiting public access or are closed to people, and people are encouraged to call before to determine if their needs can be met over the phone or online. (Phone numbers are listed on our website at www.maconbibb.us or people can call 751-7170.)

Below is a list of services provided to people that have been altered. Where a department is not listed, it means it is primarily an internal function. All offices are undergoing additional cleanings throughout the day, and all staff are encouraged to take proper preventative measures and ensure social distancing.

Business Development Services

Code Enforcement, Inspections and Permitting, Business License

•The deadline for business licenses has been extended to May 6.

•No longer be accepting walk-in customers for Alcohol / Business Licensing and Construction Permitting.

•Customers may enter the front reception foyer area only and drop applications in bins signed as either “Alcohol / Business Licensing” or “Construction Permitting.” The customer must immediately leave the building to avoid creating a choke point within the entrance to our office and to provide the CDC recommended social distancing between customers and staff.

•Complaints to Property Maintenance or Construction Permitting will be handled by email or phone. We will cease meeting with customers in the building to resolve complaints.

•Applications for Alcohol / Business Licensing will be processed daily and the customers will have their new licenses mailed within two weeks. Our staff will offer expedited emergency processing for special cases involving dual renewals between Macon-Bibb County and other state or federal agencies, or for other hardships.

•Construction Permitting will notify the applicant when their process has been completed and the customer can return to pick up their permit and/or approved plans at the front entrance only. All Certificates of Occupancy will be mailed or sent as a scanned PDF electronically to the customer to minimize contact.

•All departmental meetings with the public will be canceled to minimize contact. Meetings may occur by phone or other internet-based options.

•Construction inspections will continue, with the following exception: Interior residential inspections within occupied homes will be pushed back until after this emergency has been lifted. Other construction inspections will occur within CDC guidelines, which are evolving to meet this emergency. On the jobsite, customers are requested to maintain social distancing. Construction Inspectors safety is paramount, with the Construction Inspector reserving the right to decline the inspection if their individual health and safety is seen to be compromised by the customer.

Clerk of Commission

The office will have only limited public access. People are asked to call the office prior to visiting the office to determine if questions can be answered without physical contact or proximity. Commission Meetings are closed to the public, but will be simultaneously broadcast at www.facebook.com/maconbibbcounty and www.maconbibb.us .

Clerk of Superior Court

Access to the office is limited to staff only, who are assisting TPO customers and sheriff bonds with very limited contact and are available to assist people by phone or email. The public is encouraged to use e-filing and e-recording of court pleadings and real estate/land records. All child support cases have been canceled. Our Board of Equalization office is closed, and hearings have been canceled.

County Extension

Offices are closed to the public, and classes and 4H meetings have been cancelled. Staff will still assist the public via phone and email, and projects will continue with people working remotely.

E-911

Normal operations with social distancing and preventative measures enforced.

Emergency Management Agency

EMA staff will rotate shifts to help monitor and coordinate COVID-19 efforts by Macon-Bibb and partner organizations.

Engineering

The office is closed to the public, and people who need to speak with staff should call 478-621-6660. Staff are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays to respond to 811 (underground utility locator) calls. A drop box will be placed outside the front door for customers to deposit plans and letters. This will be checked a couple times per day.

Finance

Employees divided into two teams to minimize personal contact while maintaining payroll, purchasing, accounts payable, answering phones, and other functions.

 

Lake Tobesofkee

The public parks and campgrounds are closed to the public. The lake remains open to boaters.

Magistrate Court

•The criminal division (issuing warrants, first appearances, and bonds) remains operational.

•Service of process has been suspended due to concerns about deputies going into houses.

•Dispossessory court cases have been postponed, and other scheduled cases are being rescheduled. Cases that couldn’t be rescheduled will be held one at a time in the courtroom.

•Taking online and limited in-person filings.

Municipal Court

•L.E.C. court on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays if there were any arrests.

•All other court cases are being rescheduled.

•The offices are closed to the public.

Parks and Beautification

Crews will work on a rotating schedule to maximize social distancing, while maintaining service. No groups of more than 10 people will be allowed to gather in the parks, and all special event permits have been canceled.

Public Affairs

Media & Communications

Will work remotely as possible and continue to generate media releases, work with the COVID-19 Joint Information Center, field media calls, maintain a continuous social media presence, and develop videos as needed to support the departments. Will support the Commission with broadcasts of public meetings.

Customer Service

Staff will work remotely to maximize social distancing. To request services, call 47-751-7500 or use SeeClickFix online or with the mobile app.

Public Defender

Our office is currently closed to the public. Clients are being served through telephone and video conferencing.

 

Public Works

Crews will work on a rotating schedule to maximize social distancing.

Recreation

The Administration Office in Central City Park will be closed to the public

Recreation Centers

Each day, staff will post a health and wellness video posted 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. from an individual recreation center’s Facebook page. A new schedule will be released each week for people to pick which they’d like to attend, and all videos will be available for later viewing on the respective pages. Classes began March 23 with a Morning Chair Exercise led by the Elaine H. Lucas Senior Center.

To follow the recreation centers on Facebook, click on one of the following links: Bloomfield-Gilead Recreation Center Delores A. Brooks Recreation Center Frank Johnson Recreation Center L.H. Williams Recreation Center Memorial Park Recreation Center Elaine H. Lucas Senior Center Rosa Jackson Recreation Center South Bibb Recreation Center , and Theron Ussery Park Community Center .

Tennis Centers

All tennis and pickleball facilities are closed to the public.

Bowden Golf Course

Bowden Golf Course is closed to the public.

State Court

•Jury trials are cancelled for the weeks of April 6 and 13. The Civil Calendar Call, the Criminal Motion Days, and the Criminal Pre-trial Conference Day for those trial weeks are also cancelled.

•“Friday Court” is cancelled for March 20, March 27, April 3, and April 10. The make-up dates are May 18, 19, 20, and 21. On these days, we will have arraignment calendars at 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM. On the make-up days, we will not have contract defense lawyers present. We will handle all pro-se pleas on those days. For defendants, who request an attorney, we will assign an attorney, and we will coordinate with contract counsel regarding when they will see these defendants.

•NJT’s from the cancelled Fridays will be spread out over new Friday dates after April 10. We have asked the Solicitor General to assign those to new dates.

•We will continue to have jail court on Tuesdays at 7:45 AM (at the LEC), and we will add a jail court on Fridays at 9:00 AM (at the Courthouse).

•People arrested on most misdemeanors in the next 30 days (and those currently held) will be released on OR Bonds. We are finalizing a list of charges which do not qualify for the OR Bonds.

•Swift, Certain, and Fair Court will be held on March 24 and April 14.

•State Court Probationers will be assigned a date after April 15 for their next report date. They are expected to continue making payments. On a case by case basis, Probation Officers may require probationers under the age of 60 to continue to report.

•Tele-work options will be explored for as many employees as feasible.

•In person civil hearings will not be held for the next 30 days, unless there is a specific need or requirement to do so.

•Criminal hearings and NJT’s will be reset.

•Any Probation Rules and Report Backs set for April 2, should be moved to May 7.

Solicitor

The office is closed to the public. No outside visitors are allowed in the office without an appointment, and staff are handling work via phone call and email. Someone will staff the reception desk from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. to answer phone calls and questions.

Victim Witness Assistance Program

The following plan of action is being taken to continue providing remote services to victims of crime. Our goal is to remain connected while keeping both advocates and victims safe.

•Victim Witness Services will continue on a rotating basis with some advocates telecommuting from home until further notice. Also, the staff that is assigned to come into work one hour later and one hour early to reduce the risk factors.

•Each advocate has been assigned a laptop and cell phone to stay connected with needed information at to provide effective notifications.

•We implemented the following to continue providing services to victims under these changed circumstances.

1.Victims are being notified of the status of their case in light of the Statewide Judicial Emergency by phone calls, emails, and text messages.

2.Our office can still receive information from victims to ensure their opinions are heard because the office has an advocate available in the office at all times until further notice to provide information and get feedback from victims.

3.Indicate how websites and social media are being used to make victims aware of information (e.g. publishing court dockets on social media, providing links to sites that provide information about arrests and releases, providing list of referrals, etc.)

4.Referrals to community and other resources are still being provided to victims by referral letters, emails, fax, and phone calls.

5.Some of the remote community resources team, for us, are: Bibb County Sheriff Department and the Crisis Line and Safe House, Bibb County Health Department’s Office, Department of Family and Children Services, United Way of Central Georgia, and Disability Connections, of Macon GA.

Solid Waste

Administrative Staff 

Solid Waste Office will open for the public to come in on Mondays & Fridays only. Only a few people will be allowed in the office at a time. Staff will work a rotating schedule cover phones, pay bills, & submit payroll.

Landfill

The landfill will only be open three days per week: Monday, Tuesday & Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. It will be closed to the public on Wednesday & Thursday, and crews will use that time to work on compliance issues.

Collections

With school closings & more people off work, we are experiencing an abundance of excessive household garbage. We will temporarily suspend collection of large or excessive yard waste and concentrate on excessive household garbage, containerized debris, and small piles of yard waste.

Superior Court

Jury trials and the grand jury are suspended for 30 days. The Court is not completely shut down, but anything requiring crowds larger than 10 will be rescheduled.

Tax Commissioner

The Tax Commissioner’s Office has closed its lobby to the public to maximize social distancing. People can still make payments and access services in the following ways:

•People should use one of the four drive-thru lanes for property tax payments, solid waste payments, and tag renewals. (Driver’s license required.) The Tax Commissioner encourages people to have hand sanitizer in their car for use after handling anything that somebody else might have handled.

•People can make online payments at www.maconbibbtax.us.

•There are two tag renewal kiosks that can be used, but please maintain a six-foot distance from other people. One is at the Kroger on Tom Hill Senior Boulevard and the other is at Kroger on Hartley Bridge Road.

•Tag renewals can also be done through the mail. Send your payment and renewal notice to the address below.

•Payments can be made over the phone by calling 478-621-6500.

•Payments can be dropped off after hours in a night deposit box in the first lane of our drive thru. Envelopes are available in the drawers above the drop box.