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Conservation decision goes to Connell

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett's county administrator will decide at the end of the month whether the county's conservation measures will go on.

Commissioners gave power to Jock Connell, the government's top appointed official, to manage decisions on outdoor watering restrictions and conservation methods, which are currently under evaluation.

"We need to make quick decisions to get the best results for our people and businesses and to meet state regulatory mandates," Chairman Charles Bannister said. "Lake Lanier is still down some 17 feet and we must conserve our raw water supply and provide the best service to our residents."

Connell said he was optimistic about the drought situation.

"We've had some rainfall the last six to eight weeks, and that's been very helpful. The lake is beginning to rise," he said. "We're going to wait until the end of March and see how we are doing with our 10 percent reduction (in water use, required by the state)."

Also Tuesday, commissioners approved a $126,346 increase to the sheriff's budget for 2007.

The department went over budget, Chief Deputy Mike Boyd said, after officials decided to return inmates being housed at other jails to the county detention center.

Because of staffing shortages, the move required paying deputies overtime to watch over the prisoners, but Boyd said returning the more than 500 inmates to Gwinnett saved about $2 million in housing, medical and transport costs.

"It was one of those trade-offs," Boyd said, adding that 18 to 20 new deputies have been hired since the beginning of the year.