Thursday, October 28, 2010

Public Invited to SPLOST Review

Gwinnett residents are invited to attend a semi-annual SPLOST Citizen Review Committee meeting to be held Friday, Oct. 29 at 9 a.m. at the new Lawrenceville Police Headquarters located at 300 Jackson Street. Police Chief Randy Johnson will lead a tour of the SPLOST-funded facility following the meeting.

The Joint Citizen Review Committee was formed in 2005. Government officials discuss the progress of current SPLOST-funded projects and provide an independent auditor’s report showing how much money came in and how it was spent.

By state law, local governments must use revenue from the voter-approved sales tax to build specific capital improvements. The funds cannot pay for staff or operating expenses. Gwinnett has had a series of successful SPLOST programs since 1985.

The current SPLOST program runs from April 2009 to March 2014. Officials predict it will raise about $730 million for transportation, parks and recreation, city projects, public safety, courthouse facilities and libraries.

Review committee member Kathryn Willis said, “Our role is to be an oversight committee rather than a decision-making body. We hear about sales tax collections and the status of projects at these meetings and return to our communities to share that information. We recognize that more people are tuned into how their local governments are spending money these days, so we’re inviting anyone who’s interested to attend.”

Gwinnett Treasury Director Rhonda Etheridge said the county’s latest SPLOST-funded projects include the Sugarloaf Parkway extension, Alexander and Rhodes Jordan Parks, the Police Headquarters Annex/E-911 Center and the Hamilton Mill Library.
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Historic Bus Tour of Gwinnett Set for November 6th

What Gwinnett municipality was originally named Trip? What local city has an entire district listed on the National Register of Historic Places? Come and discover the answers to these questions and other historic tidbits about Gwinnett.

The Gwinnett History Museum, part of the new History & Culture Program of the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center, is sponsoring its annual historic bus tour. You are invited to participate in this event on Saturday, November 6, 2010. The bus pulls out at 8:30 am from the Lawrenceville Female Seminary and will travel to the cities and towns of Norcross, Centerville, Grayson and more. This is an opportunity you do not want to miss!

Participants will enjoy the comfort of a motor coach bus and be led by knowledgeable tour guides as they ride through the county. Take a step back in time and learn about important events and notable people.

GEHC History & Culture Program Manager Catherine Long states, “This is a great adventure for history buffs who desire to learn more about Gwinnett County’s unique past.”

This full day program costs $15 a person. The tour will end at approximately 4:00 PM. Participants are asked to bring extra money for lunch at a local restaurant during a stop in Norcross. Seats are still available – call 770.822.5178 to make your reservation today.

For more information about this event and the History and Culture Program of the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center, visit www.gwinnettEHC.org.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

George Pierce Park Gets Greenway Link

Construction will begin soon on another piece of the Ivy Creek Greenway trail. Currently one section of the Greenway is already complete and extends from the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center to the Mall of Georgia.

Commissioners on Tuesday approved trail construction within George Pierce Park that will connect the city’s Suwanee Creek Greenway to the existing multi-use trails in the county park. There will be a trailhead near the adult softball parking lot with benches and signage, almost a mile of paved, multi-purpose trail with retaining walls, and 1,850 feet of boardwalk with scenic overlooks. New concrete steps near the lower parking area for the soccer fields will connect to an existing gravel trail.

District 1 Commissioner Shirley Lasseter said, “I’m excited that we are able to move forward with another phase of this long-planned recreation project with funding from the 2005 SPLOST program. This trail is an excellent example of coordination between the city and the County to connect greenways that our citizens will enjoy using.”

JD James, Inc., submitted the low bid for the trail project at $1.02 million.
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Gwinnett 2011 Budget Process is Underway

Six Gwinnett residents will serve on the Chairman’s budget review committee to help set priorities and seek ways to prioritize spending in county government operations and capital improvement plans. Board of Commissioners Chairman Charles Bannister announced the six members on Tuesday, saying he increased the number from two in previous years in response to rising public interest.

The committee members are: Sam Brownlee, retired Fulton County Administrator; attorney Dan King of King and Spalding; attorney Michael Levengood of McKenna Long and Aldridge; Laurie McClain, a CPA with McClain & Company, PC; Southern Company’s Herman Pennamon; and Wayne Sikes, Gwinnett Hospital System board member. Both Brownlee and Sikes are veterans of the budget review committee while the four newest members all served on the Engage Gwinnett citizens committee for the future of Gwinnett.

Each County department and agency will present its business plan including needed financial resources to Bannister, his review committee and designated County staff on Oct. 6, 7 and 8 at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. The County will videotape those presentations and make them available to the public on its government access cable TV channel and on demand anytime through the website, www.gwinnettcounty.com.

“We intend to present a preliminary budget to the Board on Nov. 16, and I will publish my proposed 2011 budget by Dec.1,” Bannister said. The Board traditionally adopts the final budget in early January.

Chief Financial Officer Aaron Bovos noted that the 2011 process will continue to provide a great opportunity to align resources with prioritized services. Decreases in revenues for the County continue to be anticipated in fiscal year 2011. The County’s 2010 budget totals $1.56 billion after revisions that were due to a $31 million revenue shortfall.

“As we rebuild our 2011 through 2015 financial plan, we'll mindfully consider the Engage Gwinnett committee recommendations,” said Bannister. “We must maintain existing assets before we can expand services.”
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