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Snellville looking into ways to further cut costs

SNELLVILLE - City Manager Russell Treadway outlined some options Monday night that city officials can consider in an attempt to cut the cost of administering justice.

Treadway had been tasked with exploring the possibility of hearing detention cases at the Gwinnett County jail rather than transporting prisoners to Snellville City Court several times a month for their cases to be heard.

"There could be some considerable savings," said Treadway, but the biggest benefit would be the time police officers spend transporting prisoners back and forth for court proceedings. Typically two officers spend eight hours per day transporting for each court session.

Beginning this month, Treadway said that Snellville has started hearing "jail cases" - those involving detainees - just once a week, thereby cutting down on the time officers spend transporting prisoners. In April, Thursday court dates were eliminated from the city's calendar, saving the city about $11,000 per year.

Councilman Warren Auld pointed out some advantages of hearing Snellville cases in the Gwinnett County facility. One, according to Auld, would be keeping dangerous prisoners out of the city. Another would be freeing up officers' time currently spent driving prisoners and waiting for them to be processed into and out of jail.

Council woman Kelly Kautz agreed with Auld and asked Treadway to report back to Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer and the council in October with regard to how the procedure currently in place is working.

Personal care home moratorium extended

Council members voted to extend the moratorium on issuing licenses for personal care homes in the city for 90 more days. Although the issue was on Monday's council meeting agenda, the Planning Commission has several issues that require further research before drafting an ordinance governing such businesses in the city.

Baker's Rock, police department to be fast-tracked

The city of Snellville will borrow $7,234,000 to pay for the Baker's Rock land purchase and the construction of a new police department. These two projects will be paid for with SPLOST funds, but by borrowing the full amount needed now, city leaders feel that they can take advantage of lower construction costs caused by the ailing economy.

The third project that had been considered for fast-tracking was a much-needed new public works facility. That building was not considered as high a priority as the other two projects, so city leaders did not elect to fast-track that $1.3 million project. Instead, according to councilman Tod Warner, Treadway found a way to pay for the new facility with city "cash flow."

Councilman Robert Jenkins stated Monday that although he wholeheartedly supports the city's police department, he could not vote to fast-track that project since that approval was tied to the Baker's Rock financing approval. Jenkins cited the $83,000 per acre price of the Baker's Rock property as his reason for voting against the fast-tracking.

The Baker's Rock property purchase totals $2,034,000. The cost of the police department construction project is expected to be about $5.2 million.