Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash presented a proposed $1.56 billion budget for fiscal year 2017 to the public and the Board of Commissioners during a briefing on Tuesday. The proposed budget is up about 5.5 percent from this year and includes a $1.18 billion operating budget plus another $384 million for capital improvements.
Nash said, “This proposal is in line with Gwinnett’s history of sustainable, conservative budgeting practices and looks at least three to five years ahead at future implications of our decisions. The primary focus of this proposed budget is on retaining employees, supporting public safety, expanding the judiciary to meet demand and enhancing community engagement.”
The operating budget includes new positions in the public safety and judicial areas, including staffing for two new 24/7 ambulance units, along with additional staff to improve traffic management, reduce the waiting list for senior homemaking services and enhance the Board’s community outreach efforts. Workforce retention measures such as a four percent pay-for-performance raise for eligible employees, continuation of longevity pay and revamped pay for police officers, sheriff deputies and corrections officers are also contained in the budget proposal. As indicated during the discussion of the 2017 proposed budget, the Board of Commissioners has requested the County Administrator and Human Resources staff to put together for the Board’s consideration additional steps to address attrition issues with certain positions where competition with other jurisdictions and with the private sector is greatest.
Earlier this month, voters approved the renewal of the special purpose local option sales tax. The new six-year SPLOST program will begin when the 2014 program ends in April. The estimated $950 million it could raise is slated for county and city capital improvements in transportation, recreation, civic center expansion, public safety, libraries and senior services.
Capital improvements funded by SPLOST programs include an $82 million expansion of the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, a new gym at George Pierce Park plus expansions and improvements at other parks. Construction on the courthouse expansion is slated to begin in the middle of 2017 and should be completed in late 2019. The senior center housed in the Norcross Human Services Center will also be renovated.
Water and sewer user fees will fund upgrades to water and sewer facilities, sewer line inspections using a new acoustic monitoring system to help locate clogs before spills occur, and more public education to keep fats, oils and grease out of the sewer system.
Nash again tapped residents and business people to serve as volunteers on a budget review committee. They heard presentations from elected officials and department directors in late summer and studied departmental business plans, budget needs and revenue projections before making their recommendations for the 2017 budget. Videos from the presentations are available to view online at www.tvgwinnett.com.
Commissioners will hear oral or written public comments at a public hearing on Monday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. in the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center auditorium, 75 Langley Drive in Lawrenceville, and online throughout the month of December before adopting a final budget at their meeting on Jan. 3.
The proposed budget is available for viewing online at www.gwinnettcounty.com and as a hard copy in the Financial Services office at GJAC, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.