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Gwinnett officials get creative to pay for public safety

LAWRENCEVILLE -- With a more than $30 million budget gap looming for Gwinnett's government in 2012, the local police force plans to use drug forfeiture funds to pay for some needed expense.

"Frankly, the rainy day is here," Police Chief Charles Walters said Wednesday of using the money set aside for years because it is not guaranteed each year.

While some of the funds are only allowed for drug investigations, Walters plans to use some of the money for expenses like two police dogs, an X-ray machine for the medical examiner, patrol rifles, repair of animal control kennels and even cell phone service and $1 million for gasoline.

In a presentation to a citizens and staff committee planning the county's 2012 spending plan, Walters said recent decisions to beef up the number of police officers on the street has resulted in a 20 percent reduction in violent crime. But the chief said he simply hopes to maintain the current force in 2012.

In public safety presentations throughout the day Wednesday, officials asked to keep the same number of sheriff's deputies, corrections officers and firefighters.

In fact, with the land and even fire engine purchased for a new fire station by growing Georgia Gwinnett College, Fire Chief Bill Myers presented a plan to keep 25 firefighter positions frozen instead of adding the 42 needed to man a new station.

"We need (the planned) 35 fire stations to truly meet the requirements we have set for ourselves and an ambulance at every fire station," Myers said of the original plans that have halted with 30 station. "I'm not even asking for that (31st station)."

In the second day of hearings over the budget plan, Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said she was proud of the staff's attempts to keep costs low and find creative ways to fill needs, such as using the drug funds.

"They've been very thoughtfuul with ways to spend the money on essential services," said Nash, who spent decades working on the county budget in a growing economy as a staffer herself but is presiding over her first budget proposal since taking office earlier this year.

Another example of a creative approach is the possibility of adding five crews of inmates from the county prison to cut lawns at police precincts and fire stations and to even test fire hydrants.

"What they have been through the last three years ..." Nash said of the shrinking tax base that has lead to millions in cuts. "They already have in mind some ways to offer up to bridge the gap."

Comments

wildn0102 2 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps some of the "drug money" could be used to help the families and neighborhoods that have suffered due to the poor decisions made by the people who were arrested.

The kids of addicts and sellers are victims as well. Take some of that money and build community centers or positive places they could visit after school. Here they would have activities that would keep their minds "out of the gutter!"

There many displaced families without homes, and here we are talking about building up Kennels? Try finding these people a home! It's bad enough that Lawrenceville doesn't want them living in their city (See: Ext. Stay Hotels/city commissioner).

Sad......

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mustardandbiscuit 2 years, 7 months ago

@wild0102 They are restricted by Federal Law as to what that money could be used for, so wildn0102, you're out of luck. Your local tax money should be used for that community centers and activities. However, the things that King Walters wants to buy with that money should have been purchased with seized money ANYWAY! Does he really believe that the taxpayers are going to buy his toys? Not no, but HELL NO! If you want toys Charlie, use your drug money! If there are items and equipment that you need to buy as replacements or on a reoccuring basis, get it from your budget. He acts like he's doing us a freakin' favor by using his stash, what a CROCK!

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wildn0102 2 years, 7 months ago

I'm not out of "anything." Especially, luck. Besides, it will help if you correct your grammar before attempting to insult others. *REOCCURING?

Since you love to boast about "Federal Law" restrictions, please, point out the "restrictions" that prohibits drug money from helping the victims that were involved. In other cases this would be called, "restitution." Again, these families and communities are victims as well. As for my "local tax dollars," yes, you're absolutely correct. They're building "community centers. The community center is called the Gwinnett County Detention Center. In your feeble mind, that is a community center. So, again, name those "restrictions." I have a feeling that you have no idea about any "Federal Law" regulations. Now, try again!

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