With 3,069 counties in America, comparisons and rankings are inevitable. I like to say Gwinnett County sets the standard for local government, and the dozens of awards we win every year support that assertion. I’d like to use this space to share some of the latest honors.
As an example, our Water Resources department was ranked highest in the South region and earned the highest customer satisfaction index ranking in the United States in J.D. Power’s survey of U.S. water utilities. In the 2018 survey, 88 water utilities across the nation were ranked using six primary factors: delivery, price, conservation, billing and payment, communications, and customer service.
The National Association of Counties invites county governments to submit new, innovative initiatives each year, and the judges pick the best in various categories. This year’s winners included three from Water Resources for innovative septic tank education, watershed cleanups, and the Ostara nutrient recovery process, a clean technology initiative that converts a byproduct from the wastewater treatment process into environmentally friendly fertilizer.
We received awards for our year-long Bicentennial Celebration. The website, Gwinnett200.com, won a NACo award and also was named Best of Show in another national competition. Created by our Communications division, the website lists events, houses Story Vault interviews with Gwinnett residents, and features interactive sections on historic sites and the Bicentennial Torch Run. The torch run map, developed by Information Technology Services, won a NACo award along with a Bicentennial exhibit produced by Community Services that is traveling around the county.
Our use of computers to track, anticipate and schedule park maintenance needs won recognition and so did providing pet food along with home-delivered meals for home-bound seniors. An innovative exhibit at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center also won as did a literacy project at aquatics centers that paired the Gwinnett County Public Library with Parks and Recreation.
The National Association of County Information Officers honored Gwinnett County for the Gwin-nett County Overview, a fast-paced video introduction to county government; Budget in Brief external publication; graphic design for the annual multicultural festival; photography; and the previously mentioned Bicentennial website.
A fourth competition, the Digital Counties Survey, gave Gwinnett second-place nationally for our use of data and technology – up from 7th place in our population category last year. They noted new features such as interactive online public transit maps, a responsive tax portal for online bill pay, and self-service kiosks where residents can renew auto tags 24/7.
At a recent Board meeting, my fellow commissioners and I publicly thanked all the employees who worked on these projects. Their dedication to quality truly makes Gwinnett shine.