Lawrenceville – The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners adopted a $1.67 billion budget for 2018 at their regular meeting on Tuesday. The final budget is up about seven percent over last year, primarily due to transfers for capital improvements and increased costs for salaries and benefits. The operating budget is set at $1.28 billion with another $390 million for capital improvements, including projects funded by SPLOST.
“We will maintain core county services such as the jail, courts, police and fire protection, roads, transit, and water while adding a few new initiatives that reflect priorities the Board set last spring,” Nash said. “It continues our tradition of conservative budgeting based on multi-year planning, maintains adequate reserves, uses pay-as-you-go financing for capital improvements and also sets aside money for future obligations.”
The County plans to add another traffic engineer, design two new Park & Ride Lots on State Route 316, improve roadside maintenance, and add WiFi on buses. It will add staff to manage cultural and natural resources and the new Lilburn Activity Building and provide some funding to help address homelessness. The budget also includes funding to expand the civic center, build a small business resource center, and add more planning and development staff.
Nash also pointed to several new public relations positions, an animal welfare program focused on community education, funding for the Gwinnett Bicentennial celebration, a global water innovation center and pay-for-performance pay increases.
Funds to pay for more advance voting days are in the budget but will be held in reserve until it is determined that a sufficient number of trained poll workers are available to adequately staff those additional operations. The Elections Office will get four new employees to meet new federal requirements.
In the public safety area, the budget provides 65 more police officers, two new 24/7 ambulance crews and a new ladder truck crew, construction of a new Bay Creek Police Precinct and alternate E- 911 center, two new positions in the District Attorney’s Office, and a dozen part-time Sheriff’s deputies.
Nash noted that Gwinnett’s population has grown by 20 percent since 2008 while County staff has increased only five percent. Many of the new positions restore jobs that were cut during the recession. The value of assessed property is back up to its 2008 level at $29.4 billion after hitting a low in 2013. Property tax revenue funds less than half of the operating budget. The budget assumes the current 13.51 millage rate will not change.
Seven resident volunteers served on the budget review committee. They listened to budget requests from department directors and elected officials, studied business plans, budget needs and revenue projections, and made recommendations to Nash for the 2018 budget.
The 2018 budget and supporting documents and videos are available online at www.gwinnettcounty.com.