The Gwinnett Municipal Association, a nonprofit organization whose members include elected officials, city managers, clerks and attorneys from the county's 14 municipalities, has hired Randy Meacham to be its first managing director. The GMA's purpose is to promote beneficial, workable relations between its members, county staff members, school board members and other government professionals.
Meacham, who until last month chaired the Norcross planning and zoning board, has been in his new job for about a month.
"When I first heard about this position, I leaned over and told my wife, 'Now that sounds like a great job.'" Meacham said. "I feel very honored to have been selected."
Meacham left Norcross' planning and zoning board to avoid any appearance of overlapping responsibilities or loyalties. While that decision was a difficult one, he feels "the board is in good hands."
In fact, the GMA managing director position seems tailor-made for Meacham. An Atlanta-born, retired AT&T executive who began his career with Southern Bell years ago, Meacham has served on Norcross' planning and zoning board, the LCI committee, as the 2030 Comprehensive Plan chairman and on a water and sewer task force. He has also worked with the Gwinnett CID organization.
"I am a resource to Gwinnett's cities, not a lobbyist," Meacham said. "Gwinnett's cities run themselves just fine."
The managing director's role is primarily to facilitate communication between cities and to help them share valuable resources.
There are three things Meacham sees as being immediate priorities among Gwinnett's cities. First, cities must decide how to rebound from Gov. Sonny Perdue's August withdrawal of millions of dollars in grant money earmarked for projects statewide. The state budget crunch necessitated the move but still caught municipalities by surprise.
"Cities have to decide, do we put it on the tax bill now and refund the money to residents should the grant money be released? Or do we wait and possibly end up short?" Meacham said.
Second, the tax equity study that was put on hold at the beginning of summer has to be revived. Georgia House Bill 489 requires cities and counties to agree on a fair tax plan that prevents city residents from essentially "double-paying" for some services, such as public safety. The study and negotiations were put on a back burner during SPLOST allocation negotiations this summer.
A third priority is visiting every Gwinnett city to look at quality of life issues.
Water is another important issue in Gwinnett. The drought, the Corps of Engineers and water reclamation are all factors in Gwinnett that Meacham plans to address.