Cities Optimistic Regarding Service Delivery Negotiations
Managing director of Gwinnett Municipal Association says special tax districts may be the solution to the long running dispute.
Randy Meacham, managing director of the Gwinnett Municipal Association, is optimistic that negotiations between Gwinnett County and its cities regarding the ongoing service delivery strategy dispute may soon move forward.
Meacham provided an update regarding the current situation during the July 7 Dacula City Council.
“Dacula, along with all the other cities that are still together, are -- I guess -- as I stand here tonight, optimistic that we are going to restart some negotiations with the county on service delivery,” Meacham said.
Currently Gwinnett County and its cities are engaged in a court battle over how services will be delivered to county residents. State law requires that counties and the cities contained within reach a formal agreement detailing which entity will provide services such as police and fire protection and how taxes to fund those services will be allocated between city residents and those in unincorporated parts of the county. The primary goal is to make sure city residents are not taxed twice for the same services.
Gwinnett’s failure to reach an agreement means the county -- and its cities -- are not eligible for a number of state grants and permits, such as the permit which allows law enforcement agencies to use radar.
Now, more than two years after the last service delivery strategy agreement expired, Meacham believes there is hope for a resolution. Meacham took part in the July 6 executive session meeting between Gwinnett County commission chairman Charlotte Nash and representatives from other cities.
“With Chairman Nash being elected and her willingness to restart this -- she’s taken a fresh look at it to her credit -- I’m encouraged by what we did last night,” Meacham said.
“I just don’t think the public realizes what the cities have done for them as far as fighting for them not to be double taxed,” Montgomery said. “That’s the basis of the Service Delivery Strategy. For years the county has been taxing city residents for the same things the city has been providing for them. So they’ve been paying for things twice when they only use it once.”
Montgomery said the cities are not benefiting from the dispute, but have taken on the challenge so the citizens are not over-taxed.
“It’s just trying to protect the rights of the citizens that live within the cities from not having to pay the same taxes for something twice,” he added.
Meacham said the cities have maintained a consistent position that special tax districts are needed to ensure city residents do not pay more than their fair share of taxes.
“The county all the way back has opposed that,” Meacham said.
Now, that position may be changing.
“Where we are right now, I think we’re going to finally have crested that hurdle and I think the ultimate solution that is negotiated may be a tax district arrangement,” Meacham said. “That’s why I feel so optimistic about this.”