Gwinnett won't raise taxes for hospital funds

Few things are less popular than taxes.

That explains why Gwinnett's community hospital system welcomes the county's financial help, but would rather stay away from a tax increase.

Whether the county offers more money to the nonprofit community health system remains uncertain. Gwinnett's Board of Commissioners was presented with suggestions this past week of how to fund the nonprofit's expansion of services and technology - upgrades the health system says it cannot finance alone. But commissioners agreed a tax increase is all but out of the question.

The health system plans several projects, including more hospital beds at Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville. The nonprofit identified $225 million in improvements needed in upcoming years - but a $100 million funding shortfall standing in the way. Frank Rinker, Gwinnett Health System CEO, said a tax increase "could be risky. ... We actually think better funding options are out there already."

Chamber weighs in

The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce weighed in on the issue on the hospital issue.

In a statement Friday, the chamber endorsed a 15-member panel's recommendation of county support to expand Gwinnett's community hospital system. That task force, which spent a year looking at the funding options, recommended several ideas this past week, including appropriating money and debt financing.

Richard Tucker, Chamber of Commerce chairman of the board, said in a prepared statement "County backing for the Hospital System is a matter of good business. ... A viable economic climate is predicated on quality-of-life amenities, one of which is quality health care services." Tucker, one of the state's most powerful voices in business, can lend a sympathetic ear to the community hospital system. After all, he is a member of the Gwinnett Health System Board.

Hospital may be

built near Braselton

Northeast Georgia Health System is the first to tap the quickly developing south Hall and northern Gwinnett market. The nonprofit wants to build a 100-bed hospital near Braselton, a 113-acre project called Mulberry River HealthCare. The site is near Thompson Mill Road and Old Winder Highway.

Company to move

headquarters to Gwinnett

Leica Geosystems will consolidate its metro Atlanta divisions into a new north American headquarters in Technology Park.

Leica Geosystems will occupy an 80,000-square-foot office building in Peachtree Corners. Duke Realty will redevelop the building for the firm. A Leica spokeswoman declined comment on the move until July, while the company works out the specifics. Based in Switzerland, Leica Geosystems is a global company with 2,400 employees in 23 countries.

Doug Sams can be reached via e-mail at doug.sams@gwinettdailypost.com.