County, cities to meet again on service delivery

LAWRENCEVILLE — Officials from Gwinnett and its cities will again try to find a solution for a service delivery dispute that has spent nearly two years in court.

Commissioners have scheduled closed meetings for Monday to sit down with three mayors to try to hash out a resolution to the state-required service delivery strategy, even though the sides have already presented their arguments in a trial.

“Both parties are interested in resuming discussions while we await a decision from the judge,” said county spokesman Joe Sorenson.

Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson, the head of the Gwinnett Municipal Association, which represents 14 cities in the negotiations, said officials saw an opportunity to find a solution before the judge rules in the case, which could come any day.

“There has to be a way to settle this,” he said of officials haggling over which governments will offer services and how citizens will be charged. “We’ve been through the trial now. We know more information, and we are hoping there will be a break-through.”

A lot has changed in the months since the trial, including the resignation of Gwinnett’s chairman and suspension of Commissioner Kevin Kenerly, who faces bribery charges.

Johnson said he does not necessarily see a new hope for the cities in those occurrences, since now the three remaining commissioners must agree completely to any settlement.

But he hopes there can be a resolution before the end of the year, when two new commissioners will come on board and have to be caught up on the issues. Also, at the end of the year, the county and many of the city police agencies will lose their permits to use speed detection devices, as all the governments have lost their qualified local government status for failing to reach an agreement.

“We want one more shot at it, and they were willing to talk,” Johnson said. “Either it’s going to work or its not going to work. I’m very hopeful we can get it settled, if not make some real progress.”