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Judge rules in Gwinnett service dispute

LAWRENCEVILLE — A judge has ruled in the three-year-old service delivery case that has caused a rift between Gwinnett and its cities.

Officials said they are reviewing the document, which appears to force the county to set up special tax districts for services such as police, fire and transit.

It appears, if the ruling stands, that people who live in cities will have a lower tax rate for some services than people in the county, which was a major contention of city officials who funded their own police department and believed they were being double taxed in paying for the county service.

“The cities are now reviewing the order and its impact on the taxpayers of the municipal and unincorporated areas of the county,” said Auburn Mayor Linda Blechinger, who leads the Gwinnett Municipal Association, a coalition of 14 cities. “We intend to provide additional comments after that review. Some aspects of the order appear to have been dealt with through direct negotiations with the county officials that resumed in June 2011. Other provisions, including the order’s implementation schedule, will need further analysis.

“The cities intend to continue meeting with county officials to resolve the previously identified issues and explore options to conclude this matter as soon as possible. Our objective is to finally resolve the disputed SDS tax equity issues in a manner that complies with the law, the orders and resolves the issues for all Gwinnett County taxpayers.”

Gwinnett Chairwoman Charlotte Nash also said officials are studying the ruling, issued by Chief Judge David Barrett of the Enotah Judicial Circuit

“This is a complex case and the order is lengthy,” Nash said. “We’ll carefully review the judge’s ruling to fully gauge its impact on all the taxpayers in Gwinnett County.”

Three years ago, leaders failed to reach an agreement on how to divide government services and pay for them across jurisdictions, a requirement of state law known as the service delivery strategy. Negotiations have continued through the years, and last year the sides went before a judge to make their cases.

While Gwinnett has reached a tentative settlement agreement with Lilburn, pledging $372,136, the dispute with the remaining 14 cities has caused all of the jurisdictions to lose their qualified local government status. That meant local police agencies lost the right to use radar guns to enforce speeding earlier this year, and state grants and permits were put on hold.

According to the ruling, the county has until Nov. 1 to form service districts and establish new accounting procedures. The county’s 2012 budget shall be formulated to comply with the terms, it said.

Comments

Rocket1300 3 years, 2 months ago

Dust off the Radar guns boys! Fire up them laser! Gotta get cracking of them speeding tickets! Tax revenues are down.

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hpytravlr 3 years, 2 months ago

The city police departments are a joke. Get rid of them all. They are nothing but tax collectors. They use the county cops to do all the real work.

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Mack711 3 years, 2 months ago

The question is why do these cities even have a police department? When they get in real trouble they call on the County Police for assitance to solve major problems. Are the citizens of the cities paying for 2 police departments? The city police departments are nothing more than a cash register for the city. Then the city spends these fines on useless projects, like dog parks, skate parks and many more things. Get rid of the city police and have them become County Police that will resolve the conflict. Well maybe not some are not qualified to be on the County Police force.

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1212345 3 years, 2 months ago

GCPD has a response time of approximately 7-9 minutes for emergency police calls and 15-20 minutes for non-emergency calls. See Walters, Savagend Whitehead Testimony.

The Police Cities’ response time averages 3 minutes and 10 seconds for emergency calls and 5 minutes 40 seconds for non-emergency calls. See Whitehead Testimony.

GCPD department is understaffed to adequately serve just the unincorporated area

These are quotes from Judge Barrett. The simple fact is that the County Police have not and do not provide any services inside the cities except Lilburn. I get tired of people thinking the County Police do anything inside the cities. Read the ruling educate yourself before you make stupid statements that are not backed up by any facts.

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BuzzG 3 years, 2 months ago

This has been nothing more than a major power grab by the county. The same county officials who grabbed our garbage rights, grabbed at our wallets for a new baseball park that no one wanted, and grabbed them again to buy overpriced "parkland". Thank God that some of these power hungry corruptocrats are finally gone.

Now let's get rid of the rest.

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Fighting_Ignorance 3 years, 2 months ago

Interestingly, the judge in his ruling took the county to task on some of its shenanigans. The judge commended the county for having a good and comprehensive police department, and they do. The comments concerning the city police departments are ignorant, however. The entire point of the SDS is to prevent citizens from being taxed for services they are not using. Those cities with police departments do not use the county police, regardles of what your commenters may say. Accordingly, the city taxpayers should not have to pay for this through county taxes. Likewise, the city taxpayers should not have to pay for county zoning, permits, etc. Everyone should read the judge's ruling and the State Constitution. The ignorance surrounding this issue is amazing. I choose to live in a city and am very happy with the police service and RESPONSE TIME I get from the professionals who work in my city. It is much better than the 2 hours I waited for the county to come work a wreck. This is not the county police's fault - they are woefully understaffed. I ask my fellow citizens to become better informed and not just listen to the talking points and fudged stats.

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CD 3 years, 2 months ago

I live in unincorporated Gwinnett, but I do know this: if I was in trouble and needed police assistance, I would much prefer to see GCPD rolling up than the like of SPD or DPD. In fact, I'll go one step further and say that it would be better to be on my own than rely on city police.

Responding to a wreck and responding to a crime are two different things. I'll trust the average GCPD officer any day over the alternative. That service and protection is worth money.

If you believe different, so be it, but I think you need to apply for a pistol permit ASAP so that you will at least have a chance.

Good luck.

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Local50 3 years, 2 months ago

I wish people would quit creating this animosity between county and city police. I am a county Officer myself and I can tell you that all these negative comments towards either side does not help. I have friends in other departments and they are just as much a brother officer as other county officers. I can say myself that I have been backed up by city Officers plenty of times when they are closer and have never had an issue. Trust me, when you need back up you do not care what uniform they are wearing. To the city Officers that read this just remember that the people who are complaining about city police or county police are the same people who have never wore the badge and do not have a clue about the job. To all of my fellow Officers stay safe and I want to remind you all that we need to stick together no matter what agency we work for. In the crazy world we live in today more then ever we need to look out for each other whether we at GCPD, Lawrenceville Police or whoever. I can say myself if I am on or off duty and see an Officer in need I can assure you I'm not looking to see what agency patch the Officer is wearing to make my decision to help.

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R 3 years, 2 months ago

With all the software cruisers now carry, whats one more ap? Going forward they will use GPS and bill by the minute in any jurisdiction using SAP. And since the hand-helds relay GPS too, It will be just like regular people using a lawyer, its ALL in the billable time...

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