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Budget hearings to begin

LAWRENCEVILLE — The good news is that county government revenues may have leveled out after years of drastic drops in bad economic times.

But as officials prepare for the 2014 government spending plan, the pressure to balance the budget is just as real.

“I expect that the biggest issues for the budget this year will be on the expenditure side,” said Chairwoman Charlotte Nash, who is preparing for sessions with a citizens review committee beginning this week to help prepare the document. “The two largest challenges are related to the cost of implementing the juvenile justice reform legislation and the changes in health care, including the impact of the Affordable Care Act. We are still working to quantify these so I cannot give you figures, but I can say that the additional costs for health care are substantial.”

County officials will present business plans for the year at morning sessions beginning Wednesday. To help with the process, residents Mark Brock, Norwood Davis, Marian Luca and Herman Pennamon will serve on a committee to make recommendations. Brock is an engineer who works for the local school system; Davis is chief financial officer for 12Stone Church, Lucia is a retired banker and Pennamon is a consultant.

“Public input is critical to local government, and we welcome it at all levels,” Nash said. “I have every confidence this talented group of individuals will dive into the details supplied by department directors and elected officials, ask thoughtful questions and share their honest opinions.”

Nash said officials will be working on two budget documents this year, since voters will go to the polls in November to vote on a proposed sales tax extension.

The videotaped presentations will air on the TVGwinnett government access cable channel and be available on demand at www.gwinnettcounty.com.

The spending plan will be presented by Dec. 1 before adoption at the beginning of the new year.