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Gwinnett BOC Approves 2013 Budget, Slashes Library Funding by $1 Million

The overall figure of $1.4 billion includes adjustments for such things as SDS-mandated service districts.

Gwinnett County's elected leaders unanimously approved Thursday a $1.4 billion budget for 2013. As with previous years, there were cuts, tough choices -- and no pay raises for county employees.

But there also are signs that the economic woes that have plagued the county in recent years may be bottoming out.

District 1 Commissioner Jace Brooks of Suwanee, who is beginning his first full term on the board, noted that the Gwinnett tax digest is projected to decline about 1.9 percent this year. That would be the smallest such decline in recent years, and the reduction in tax revenues has been a major problem for Gwinnett budgets recently.

Brooks, who was on the Suwanee City Council from 2002-12, noted that that city did not experience the digest decline that the overall county did. He also cited the "size and complexity" of Gwinnett government as a difference in putting a budget together.

Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash, who is beginning her first full term, noted that it was the "most difficult budget process I've been through."

For 2013, county leaders had to contend with a new city (Peachtree Corners), service districts (mandated by the Service Delivery Strategy agreement) as well as the continued reduction in the tax base.

Nash said that when the budget process began last September, that the concerns were "more than just money. There were operational issues."

Perhaps the department hardest hit by the cuts was the library system -- $1 million in materials was eliminated. Also reduced sharply was the budget for parks and recreation.

Brooks said that the cuts "were not fun for anyone, but it's the reality that we face. There are discretionary and non-discretionary items."

As for future hope for the tax digest, Nash noted that bankers are starting to hear more from people "talking about the possibility of a loan."

Cowboy January 06, 2013 at 03:32 PM
Why is it that when they cut the budgets, and I know that it needs to be done, That the first things that get cut first are the things that the tax payers themselves get to use for free. It seems to me that maybe we could start cutting things out like fancy week-end work trips, commissioners cars, having our commissioner names put all over the county buildings when a new building is built. When I see our county leaders that were voted in to serve the voters start cutting the funds at our libraries, public parks, and wanting to close some of the county public swimming pools in order to save money, and then I hear in the news that our commisioners are taking a paid week-end trip off to some fancy place for a "work session" I tell myself, You know with the amount of money that the tax payers spent on that trip, we could have got our work done during the week like the private sector does and kept that library open a few more hours this month so little Johnny could have came there with his parents after they got off work from their second job to help little Johhny finish that book report.... It just makes me sad..
Kristi Reed January 06, 2013 at 04:17 PM
It is hard to understand how something with such a clear value to the public consistently ends up in jeopardy of losing funds. We could free up some money for the library if we ended county involvement in trash regulation or stopped subsidizing county transit or eliminated subsidies to the ARC for starters ...
Snika39 January 06, 2013 at 04:28 PM
The tax base for revenue has also declined since many residents of Gwinnett county no longer find it the clean, safe community it was in years past. Counties like Barrow, Jackson and Walton are increasing. When working, home owners leave, and gangs move in, revenue goes down!

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