Chairman presents 2015 budget proposal
(Lawrenceville, Ga., Nov. 18, 2014) – Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash presented a proposed $1.42 billion budget for fiscal year 2015 to the Board of Commissioners during a briefing on Tuesday.
After a public hearing and time for public comment, commissioners will vote on the budget proposal during their first meeting of the year.
Four county residents and business people served on Nash’s budget review committee. After hearing presentations from elected officials and department directors in September, the group studied departmental business plans, budget needs and revenue projections to make recommendations for the 2015 budget.
Common themes heard throughout the presentations included concerns about workforce retention and recruitment and the need to restore funding for certain services that were cut in previous budget years. As a result of the budget review team’s deliberations, the budget proposal holds the line on property tax rates, addresses critical expansion of fire and emergency medical services, adjusts employee compensation and partially restores funding for some services to meet increased demand.
The proposed operating budget for fiscal year 2015 totals $1.052 billion. The budget will fund pay-for-performance increases for non-sworn employees and a step increase for public safety personnel. It also includes additional staffing for judicial services, the animal shelter, a new fire station and the new Level Creek Park scheduled to open in 2015.
Roadside maintenance such as mowing and trimming sidewalks and medians and sweeping curbs and turn lanes will be partially restored through the use of contracts with private companies. The County will also bring back Saturday bus service for local routes and add two daily express service trips from the Indian Trail Park and Ride lot. Nash said, “The budget review team members, County staff and I took a hard look at all of the funding requests, and we ultimately agreed the time has come to restore some of the services that make our community a safer and more attractive place to live and conduct business.”
The proposed $370.6 million capital budget includes construction of two fire stations using SPLOST funds. Fire Station 31 will serve Georgia Gwinnett College and the surrounding community, while Fire Station 10 will be relocated to improve fire and emergency services coverage in the Mall of Georgia area.The relocated station will be staffed with existing personnel.
“We had plans to build these fire stations before the recession hit, and because our population did not stop growing even during those tough economic times, demand for service is greater now than ever before,” said Nash. “I will be thankful to see these buildings come out of the ground.”
In keeping with a history of conservative budgeting practices, the proposed budget was prepared with a long-term outlook in mind. County officials anticipate slight growth in the tax digest in 2015.
The proposed budget is now available online at http://www.gwinnettcounty.com and as a hard copy in the Department of Financial Services office located in the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center (GJAC), 75 Langley Drive in Lawrenceville, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Departmental budget presentations made earlier this year are also available online.
Commissioners will hold a public hearing on Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. in the GJAC auditorium. They invite either oral or written comments about the budget during the hearing or through the county’s website through Dec. 31. The Board expects to adopt the 2015 budget on Jan. 6, 2015.