County keeping close eye on Crossover Day

LAWRENCEVILLE - County officials have lost hope for a legislative solution to Atlanta's transportation woes, but with one day left for bills to gain traction in the General Assembly, Gwinnett's leaders are still optimistic for a compromise on annexation issues.

Today, the 30th legislative day of 2007, is the deadline for bills to pass one branch of the General Assembly to be considered this year.

According to Deputy County Administrator Mike Comer, a county attorney attended a meeting at the Capitol on Monday in hopes of righting a compromise between cities and counties that dissolved last week.

Gwinnett officials have feuded with local mayors over annexations that create more growth.

"I understand they are trying to erect that train wreck and move on," Chairman Charles Bannister said. "If it's possible, I'd like something to develop with that."

But Bannister said he doesn't expect to see a last-minute push for transportation relief.

"Transportation, of course, we all need help with, but I just don't see that happening this session," he said. "I don't see a lot of help coming out of the Legislature. ... Interest has kind of dulled."

The county government hired a lobbyist for the first time this year, but Comer said officials decided against giving the local delegation an opinion on issues coming up on Crossover Day.

"We've done all we can on those," he said. "If a new twist comes along, we'll certainly respond to it."

Commissioners will also watch the proceedings today to learn if legislators consider a measure to force owners of rental property to register contact information. The idea is tied to Gwinnett's quality-of-life initiative, and Bannister said the future of the program hinges on that proposal.

"I think everybody understands the issue, but not enough people want to step forward and help those who pay the taxes," he said. "Until we have a chance to do that, we probably won't be able to improve things much."

Gwinnett County Public Schools spokeswoman Sloan Roach said the system hasn't given legislators any instructions or opinions for Day 30. But most of the school issues involve budgeting, which will be under consideration until the session closes on Day 40.

Local bills, such as the creation of a county stormwater authority and a proposal to increase the size of the county commission, also aren't subject to the Day 30 rule.

Bannister said he plans to visit lawmakers Wednesday to get status updates and make an appeal for the issues he wants to see tackled by the end of the session.