STONE MOUNTAIN -- Six months after one of their own reported to prison for bribery, Gwinnett's elected officials discussed implementing a code of conduct among the county commission.
The idea was one of several fielded Tuesday as commissioners discussed goals for the government during a two-day strategic planning session.
With "fostering a culture of integrity and positive leadership" as the top goal determined by the five board members -- still working to restore public trust after several scandals the past several years -- leaders struggled to set concrete objectives that would change the minds of a jaded electorate.
But establishing a code of conduct, they said, could increase the commissioners' accountability and line out a proper way to do business. The item could be voted on as early as next month.
"It is our responsibility to demonstrate that, to live that out," Commissioner Jace Brooks said, adding that trust could only be restored over time through consistent, upright behavior and sound decision-making.
Along with renewed emphasis on civic engagement and communications, officials also discussed putting a new emphasis on the county's internal audit functions, which was reclassified in past years to the performance analysis division. The name created confusion even among the officials, and some said it appeared the county did not have oversight.
For another aim to revitalize the county's aging areas, commissioners discussed ways to improve infrastructure, promote mixed-use development and focus public safety and other efforts on more downtrodden communities. Board members also said they would explore creating Neighborhood Improvement Districts, similar to the self-taxing Community Improvement Districts focused on businesses, to allow people in residential areas to band together to fund improvements.
The goal-setting session also contained some discussion about improving the morale and retention of county employees. While commissioners did not promise a raise to staffers, who have waited for years for a pay increase during hard economic times, they did open up the possibility for discussions in upcoming budget talks.
Commissioners also debated the future of the county's water supply and ways the government can help in the spurring of the local economy, including discussions of improvement the Gwinnett airport, a bone of contention in recent years. Leaders plan to delve into ways to improve the appearance and attractiveness of the general aviation airfield without allowing for controversial scheduled flights.