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Staff, commissioners talk future

BUFORD -- Commissioners spent Tuesday morning and much of the afternoon talking about Gwinnett County's future.

Among topics discussed during the strategic planning session retreat at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center was a look at economic conditions and discussions of infrastructure, public safety and planning and development initiatives.

From the public safety side, Fire Chief Bill Myers talked about some of the future's possible challenges as 9-1-1 call volumes continue to climb throughout the county. He said the number of emergency calls has been on a steady incline over the past couple of years.

Myers said that in terms of the county's emergency response coverage, the department "has reached a plateau."

"We have placed enough fire stations in the county to ensure that 98 percent of Gwinnett County is within five miles of fire station protection" Myers said.

Gwinnett County Chief of Police Charles Walters said the department continues to protect residents with a ratio of about one policeman represented per 1,000 people in the county.

The aim, he said, is to provide even more than that in the future. "Ideally, we would have two policemen per 1,000," Walters said.

That possibility, like many others discussed during Tuesday's strategic planning session, was limited by the county's financial situation.

Financial Services Director Maria Woods briefed the board of commissioners on the county's revenues and expenditures, while Chief Appraiser Steve Pruitt delivered information about the tax digest.

Projections continue to show that the county will lose about 8.5 percent of its tax digest in 2013.

"We've lost 10 years of digest growth in the last downturn," Pruitt said. "That's a lot of money."

Pruitt said many of the economic forecasts he's read seem "optimistic"

"If foreclosures continue for the next couple of years, we will not see the bottom for some time," Pruitt said.

Pruitt said the county should plan accordingly.

From the planning and development side, director Bryan Lackey discussed initiatives for new mixed use zoning districts to be implemented in the future to lure business. The zoning designations would allow a mixture of residential, office and commercial uses.

Lackey also talked about further use of overlay zoning districts that "will help attract businesses to the 316 corridor."

In addition, Lackey brought commissioners up to speed on the progress of the Gwinnett Housing Task Force, which was convened in February "to address those housing problems specific to Gwinnett."

The planning session was a mini-version of the retreat commissioners took in years past for a three-day look at the county's direction.

It was the first strategic planning session held since Chairwoman Charlotte Nash joined the board last year.

Nash thanked the commissioners and county staff for attending.

"It's been good to step back and look at things from an overall perspective," Nash said. "It gives us a chance to ask ourselves how we go forward in updating our approaches and our information for the future of Gwinnett County."

Comments

teelee 1 year, 11 months ago

Overlay zoning districts for the struggling 316 area? How about expanding Briscoe Field and allowing commercial air service? Every airplane coming or going would bring much needed money into the 316 area and the rest of the county. How about the billion dollar gambling venue proposed for Norcross? The county needs to fill the thousands of empty houses and businesses before we lose any more. Snellville just lost their Ruby Tuesday restaurant, Buford lost their Kmart and Loganville just lost the Best Buy store. We are moving in the wrong direction, more empty businesses. Some of the county commissioners already understand what we need to do to fix it and I hope the others will start listening.

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jljustis 1 year, 11 months ago

All 25 to 37 people on each 737 flight are going go rush out and spend a fortune at Kmart and Best Buy; then celebrate at Ruby Tuesdays. That makes a lot of sense teepee.

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Cleanupguy 1 year, 11 months ago

That there's funny - I don't care who you are!

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NewsReader 1 year, 11 months ago

So, we lost KMart, and we gained Sports Authority. I'd say that's a very good trade! Right Teewee?

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jljustis 1 year, 11 months ago

This so-called commercial proposal seems to be an obvious scam and skim operation. Giving outrageous and unachievable job numbers to scam the Gwinnett Government and then skimming from contracts and expenditures for a venture that has no chance of succeeding. If this is such a great deal, why aren’t we working with a few major airlines to set up a commercial airport? It would be pocket change for the airlines; and, you think they would jump at the chance for such a great venture. If this passes, we need to press for a State and Federal investigation of each commissioner who votes and see what they are getting for their vote. They cannot be so stupid as to believe that the proposal has any chance of achieving what the proposers (posers for short) are selling.

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kevin 1 year, 11 months ago

The State AG should investigate all the yes votes, especially Lassister and Beaudreau.

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Cleanupguy 1 year, 11 months ago

Yeah, how about assuring our total economic collapse by saddling taxpayers with the "guaranteed to fail - never succeeded elsewhere" billion dollar boondoggle concept. Please go to the clue store, and buy another trick pony while you're there.

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GregRodgers 1 year, 11 months ago

Please....what is is with Teelee?

The businesses you've mentioned are failing because: Big Box stores have been in decline for years....and Ruby Tuesday is a terrible restaurant. It under performs because people do not like it.

So what you are saying is...because we will not see tax revenue from these stores that we need the airport? Really?

For every business that goes out one comes in...for instance Best Buy closes...NTB and Academy Sports on 124 have opened. Ruby Tuesday closes and Olive Garden takes its place. Thats how it goes.

What the BOC needs to learn is.....it cannot spend what it does not have, and it should not buy what we do not need. We didn't need the land deals. Did we really need extra parks in Dacula? Did the BOC really need to steal a Cell Tower from a resident on to see this issue go to litigation?

The grand jury report last year explained the mis-management in the BOC. This is the cause of its financial problems. Forcing Airports and Gambling does not solve the major issue: Out of Contol spending!

When the markets come back..which they will...then the BOC money problems will be resolved without forcing a possible losing proposition on the people.

People like teelee only talk about a money grab for the moment and throw caution to the wind. Throwing mud against the wall and seeing what sticks is not how government should be run.

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UBinGwinnett 1 year, 11 months ago

Cleanup in Aisle teelee. Best Buy is overpriced and mismanaged, look for the whole company to go under soon. Kmart was and always will be the step child to Wallyworld. Ruby's? Not the first place I'd choose to eat. Beaudreau International? I laugh every time I see supporters tout the millions it will bring to the area. It really is comical.

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Don 1 year, 11 months ago

Hey Teelee:

Check out this article.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903635604576476170691580238.html

It is about how small airports are struggling and the taxpapeyers are on the hook to pay.

You can also google airport struggles and see some other articles.

I wonder if any and how the CID's are affected and what consequece they have on the taxes.

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Katrina 1 year, 11 months ago

Don, Another good article is "Big Hubs Lure Back Fliers from Regional Rivals" in the Wall Street Journal--the link is: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703730804576317141263369616.html

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Cleanupguy 1 year, 11 months ago

Oh, sure - there y'all go again, upsetting teelee's sole fantasy in life with pesky facts. I think teelee's helmet is too tight.

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jack 1 year, 11 months ago

No mention in this article about the idea Beaudreau floated about raising the county sales tax.

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JV 1 year, 11 months ago

I noted that too jack. GDP removed my post.

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nawggin 1 year, 11 months ago

Infrastructure?! HA! What infrastructure? They only way to get anywhere in Gwinnett is by car, and by sitting an hour in traffic to do it!

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R 1 year, 11 months ago

From comments on the WSJ article above:

"What customers?

Those airports close down because they dont have enough customers. It is a natural thing.

My first question is where is the study that said that building an airport in those locations would succeed? If they are just throwing airports at communities just so they can have them without knowing if there will be enough business to support them then it is a very risky venture. One i dont think the tax payer should have to shoulder."

"Communities NEED airports to keep their businesses and population from being isolated for emergency situations such as medical transport, emergency shipments and business requirements. They can't afford the overhead of big passenger terminals with the associated utility bills and maintenance costs. General passengers will always drive for lower fares, making passenger service a loser. It sounds as though the county needed a Cruze but they purchased a Hummer."

The sales tax idea was last put forth by Charles Bannister in the sunset of his term as chairman, so again Mr Beaudreau comes off as "Bannister light"

Attention voters! CLEAN UP NEEDED in District 3...

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Dubbin 1 year, 11 months ago

As I recall Green actually had the sales tax idea first then Bannister proposed it as his own. I miss Charles Bannister. The old saying of "somewhere a village is missing its idiot" always came to mind with that guy. He was entertaining in his own way.

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Cleanupguy 1 year, 11 months ago

Lighten up on teepee - definitely not the sharpest crayon in the box.

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R 1 year, 11 months ago

But it wouldn't be a Caryola 64 box without him/her...

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kevin 1 year, 11 months ago

I see no future with this BOC. Heard is the only one that votes like the people want. Never trust a politician who has anything named after him/her.

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Cleanupguy 1 year, 11 months ago

Beware the Heard as well - he's an old Bannister Buddy from way back.

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Dubbin 1 year, 11 months ago

Agreed. When Bannister was still in office he knew he had three votes for the airport - maybe four. This allowed Heard to be against the airport while knowing it would get approved anyway. Things are never as they seem in politics with one exception - that being politicians always vote for what makes them money.

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