Officials nix annual retreat

LAWRENCEVILLE -- County officials have enough to deal with at home that they don't have enough time for an annual planning retreat, Chairman Charles Bannister said.

For more than a decade, the annual trek to the north Georgia mountains has been where county initiatives such as the opening of a minor league baseball stadium have been born.

While officials did not cut the $12,000 to $15,000 needed for a two-night stay at the Brasstown Valley Resort for commissioners and upper-level county staff, the retreat has not been placed on the calendar.

"Nobody's even mentioned it," Bannister said. "I think we have enough on our plate."

Between setting a proposed millage rate this winter and dealing with lawsuits on trash hauling and service disputes with cities, Bannister said, "We are staying busy."

Earlier this year, some people cried foul when commissioners slashed the county budget but kept in money for the retreat.

"Obviously we are sensitive to the over 250 employees that we have lost this year and any expense of funds for a retreat at this time would just be unwise," County Administrator Glenn Stephens said.

Usually, the trip is scheduled for November or December, but county officials held a one-day "strategic planning" session in late March. The meeting, held at George Pierce Park in Suwanee, was an attempt to align commissioners' priorities with the government budgeting process, which begins in the spring.

Stephens said he did not know if money for a retreat is set aside in the proposed 2010 budget, but he said officials plan to host another March session within the county's borders.