Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Judge Grants Order on State Sanction in City-County SDS Dispute

On Tuesday, Gwinnett County received an order to hold state sanctions in abeyance while the County and city governments continue to litigate their service delivery dispute. The order, requested by the County, was granted by the judge presiding over the litigation. The current 10-year strategy, as set forth in state legislation that became effective in 1999, expired Feb. 28. Missing the deadline for a new 10-year strategy with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs placed Gwinnett and each of its cities in an “unqualified status.” The sanctions resulting from the unqualified status could have resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in state-administered financial assistance, grants, loans or permits to Gwinnett County and Gwinnett’s cities.

Superior Court Judge David E. Barrett’s order comes after Gwinnett’s cities had asked the judge to have sanctions reimposed 30 days after the judge rules on a County motion for partial summary judgment on the use of unincorporated revenues.

Prior to that, a March 3 order holding sanctions in abeyance during the mediation process was opposed by attorneys representing Gwinnett’s cities because it was not signed by the out-of-circuit judge assigned to the case and that order was vacated. However, Judge Barrett ruled in April that the sanctions would be held in abeyance throughout the mediation process.

“Sanctions ultimately just hurt the citizens, and I am pleased the judge agreed with the County’s position. The judge’s action is in line with our goal to work towards a service delivery solution for every resident in Gwinnett County without losing the necessary funding that benefits Gwinnett County and its cities,” said County Administrator Glenn Stephens.

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