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Suwanee adopts 20/20 vision plan, ‘13 budget

SUWANEE — For freshman councilman Doug Ireland, each City Council meeting has proven to be better than the last.

But on Tuesday, there was no doubt.

Ireland beamed with pride as the council adopted Suwanee’s 20/20 vision strategic plan, more than a year after city officials and residents gathered to discuss ideas and opinions for the city by 2020. Ireland seconded the motion, and it brought him full circle to when he started the process as part of a steering committee and roundtable.

“This is a proud moment for me to see us adopt this,” said Ireland, who was elected in November.

The plan culminated in April as opinions and priorities gathered from roundtables and focus groups. About 435 residents who participated were divided into 25 groups and discussed where they want the city to be by 2020. A Philadelphia-based urban development consultant worked with city officials to lead and organize the project.

City Manager Marty Allen said it was one of the more innovative and exhaustive plans he’d been a part of.

“Very proud of the document, very proud of the community and very proud of the process,” Allen said.

Councilman Kevin McOmber said it “serves as a nice roadmap” for the city.

Also adopted at Tuesday’s council meeting was the fiscal year 2013 budget, proposed at $12,002,440, a 1.3 percent increase from last year, with a 4.5 percent decrease in expenditures. The millage rate is set to decrease by .72, which goes from 5.65 to 4.93.

The proposed budget also includes a 2.5 percent cost-of-living raise for employees and a reduction in employer retirement contributions from 11 percent to 9 percent. Among other highlights to the budget were two new police vehicles and 16 laptop computers for the police. The city is also looking to replace its 10-year old computing software so it can better communicate with internal and external systems.

The council also awarded a contract for resurfacing about 3.22 miles of streets and a public works parking lot to Allied Paving Contractors for $709,841.81, the low bidder of six companies. The project is expected to begin in late July or August, Public Works Director James Miller said.

Mayor Jimmy Burnette was authorized to execute a contract with CodeRED, a company that provides emergency alert notification service through voice, email or text messages for severe weather or crime in the area.

The council also honored David Hidding after he volunteered to create a mobile-friendly website for the SculpTour page of the city’s website. Gwinnett County School Board member Mary Kay Murphy also presented the school district’s strategic plans and priorities.