The capital budget includes funds from the one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax program, which voters renewed for another six years.
The process of building our annual budget starts six months or more before the Board of Commissioners ever votes on it. It involves listening carefully to the business plans, needs, and wishes of each County department and appropriate elected officials. Following in the footsteps of my predecessor, I recruit a handful of residents to help us listen, evaluate, and finally allocate funds.
While Gwinnett County is not immune to global economic uncertainty, we have taken steps in the creation of this budget to ensure that our financial foundation remains strong. We are careful to anticipate future consequences of our decisions. If we build a new fire station, for instance, we are also taking on costs for equipping, staffing, training, and maintaining that station every year for decades to come. Long-range planning is critical. Budgeting is not just a one-year exercise.
The budget includes upgrades for roads, water and sewer lines, and parks to meet current and future needs. It addresses challenges, like hiring and retaining a qualified workforce and dealing with inflation and supply chain disruptions. It also adds a language-learning assistance program for employees to help us better serve our diverse community, enhances the ability of judges to conduct virtual proceedings, and creates new positions for an environmental sustainability officer and an equity officer.
This year we continued the tradition of posting supporting documents and videos online along with both the proposed and the final adopted budget. We also took comments from the public, both at the required public hearing and online through the end of December, before adopting the final budget at our first meeting in January. As stewards of your tax dollars, we believe in transparency and accountability.
Our vision says, “Gwinnett is the preferred community where everyone thrives.” Our mission states, “Gwinnett proudly supports our vibrantly connected community by delivering superior services.” And our values are “integrity, accountability, equity, inclusivity, and innovation.”
I’m proud that the 2023 budget will allow us to support our vision, carry out our mission, and adhere to our values.
Happy New Year!