Beaudreau: Budget Will Be Balanced
District 3 commissioner said cuts will be identified by end of March.
“We think by the end of March we should have everything targeted, everything identified to close the rest of that shortfall,” Beaudreau said at a Feb. 12 meet and greet at the Dacula Park Activity Building in Dacula.
Only two constituents were present for the Saturday morning meeting. Beaudreau arrived 10 minutes late for the 8:30 a.m. event.
One of the constituents, Rick Schneider, a member of Citizens for a Better Gwinnett and the Alliance of Concerned Citizens of Old Peachtree (ACCOP), expressed concern about the budget gap.
“I hear we have to make up the $18 million, but I don’t hear any cuts,” he said.
Beaudreau said the county has made significant progress already towards balancing the budget.
“We’ve cut 200 some odd employees. We’ve cut a substantial amount out of departmental budgets so now we’re into meat,” he said. “We’re cutting meat and thinking of creative ways to raise revenue.”
Beaudreau said one of the ways the county has raised revenue is by increasing ambulance fees.
“That will bring in an additional $1.5 million in revenue this year,” he said.
The county has also increased other usage fees.
“I want to make sure we have people who are using the services pay for more of their fair share,” Beaudreau said. Beaudreau added that he expects the budget to be balanced for the first time in many years with one notable exception.
“Well, I guess we had a balanced one technically last year due to the tax increase,” he said.
The other constituent at the meeting, Rick Culberson, asked Beaudreau about the potential expansion of Briscoe Field. Culberson said he has no objection to privatization, but does not want to see commercial traffic at the Lawrenceville airport.
Beaudreau said there are no concrete proposals to evaluate at this time.
“It’s literally worrying about something that probably won’t be an issue,” Beaudreau said.
Culberson and Schneider questioned Beaudreau about a variety of other topics including mass transit, the county SPLOST, water rights and next year’s TSPLOST referendum.
Beaudreau said it will be interesting to see how the TSPLOST vote plays out across the region.
“To me it’s kind of shifting the burden from the folks who are willing to pay for it to the ones who aren’t,” he said.
Beaudreau said Gwinnett County has done a good job taking care of its own transportation issues without having to coordinate with members of a designated transportation region.
“The question is how do we get those folks to build their portion of it without a regional tax,” he said.
The 1 percent sales tax to fund transportation projects or TSPLOST is set to go before the voters in 2012.
When asked if he planned to attend next week’s forum for candidates for chair of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, Beaudreau said he purposely stays away from such events so as not to become the focus of the candidates.
“I looked at running myself,” he admitted, but said he decided against it because he would have been required to resign his commission post.
Beaudreau’s district includes the eastern part of Gwinnett County from the Highway 78 corridor north to I-85 and includes the cities of Snellville, Loganville, Grayson, Dacula and Auburn. His term ends in December of 2012.