LILBURN -- Gwinnett cities' alliance against the county in a years-long service dispute has been broken.
Lilburn's City Council voted Wednesday to no longer join in with a lawyer used by all 15 cities since the dispute landed in court last March.
Instead, the city will negotiate on its own with the county.
"It's in the interests of the city of Lilburn," Mayor Diana Preston said, declining to comment further because she didn't want to jeopardize the lawsuit. "We felt we're different from the other cities. ... Over the course, we looked at things and decided we need to negotiate independently."
The move won't free the city from the lawsuit, which was filed by the county after a 10-year service agreement expired in March 2009. But City Manager Bill Johnsa said he was hopeful Lilburn could come to a tentative agreement with the county that could become permanent when the suit ends.
"Gwinnett County government looks forward to working with Lilburn to reach an agreement on service delivery that matches Lilburn's unique needs," said Chairman Charles Bannister, a Lilburn resident who served as the city's mayor decades ago. "We also desire to reach an agreement with all of the other Gwinnett cities. The county continues to seek a resolution that is in the best interest of all Gwinnett citizens whether they live in a city or in the unincorporated area of the county."
The city agreed last year to pay $23,052 for its share of the legal fees to attorney Buddy Welch. Another assessment of $23,052 was recently received, but Johnsa said he was unclear as to whether that would be for further services the city will now no longer need.
The city has also spent $15,000 to $20,000 in attorney's fees to their own city attorney, he said.
For now, Gwinnett's remaining 14 cities, as well as Lilburn and county officials, are preparing for an August trial.
"We're moving forward just like we were before," said Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson, who is the current chairman of the Gwinnett Municipal Association. "I think it hurts Lilburn, but they have to do what they think is best for their citizens."