Officials approve $500K to support Partnership Gwinnett

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

LAWRENCEVILLE — Battling to keep the county government budget balanced, commissioners put their hopes again Tuesday in the Partnership Gwinnett program to bring jobs to the area.

For the fourth year, officials approved $500,000 to support the program led by the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

“The Chamber of Commerce and Partnership Gwinnett has shown a great return on investment,” Commissioner John Heard said. “We fully anticipate great success in the future.”

The program is credited with bringing 11,000 jobs to the county, including the lauded recruitment of NCR’s headquarters to Duluth.

Earlier this month, the government’s economic development director Alfie Meek, who worked closely with the Chamber for Partnership Gwinnett, resigned to accept a job at Georgia Tech. Officials have not yet determined if he will be replaced.

“The economic development and research staff that we have in place at the county is second to none,” County Administrator Glenn Stephens said in a press release earlier this month. “I have complete confidence in their ability to continue to build on the reputation in economic development and redevelopment established under Alfie’s leadership. The tradition of sophisticated economic and fiscal analysis that supports multiple facets of the county’s operations is in good hands.”

The decision comes at a time when officials have trimmed the government budget of many of its subsidies, since plunging home values have caused a dip in property tax revenues.

On Tuesday, Deputy County Administrator Aaron Bovos reported nearly 20,000 property assessment appeals have been filed this year. With 14,569 residential appeals Proso far, homeowners have until May 31 to file.

The high number of appeals has officials concerned that the projected 8.7 percent drop in the county’s tax digest could be underestimated.

Fuel prices are also straining the budget, Bovos said.