Gwinnett County now has a population of around 900,000 people, and a budget of about $1.4 billion. This means that there are five states that have fewer people then the County of Gwinnett.

On Thursday night, Gwinnett County chairman Charlotte Nash spoke to the tea party group in Lawrenceville at Briscoe field. She talked about a number of issues facing the county, and among the most important is still Gwinnett’s water supply. Not long ago this topic drew a great deal of attention, but recently with all the rain we’ve had the issue seems less important. Chairman Nash reminded us know that the issue is still a major concern, and will resurface once drier conditions return. One of the things she’s concerned about is that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case from Florida involving the amount of water release from Lake Lanier (Gwinnett’s primary water source) that makes its way eventually into their state. One of the questions that the Court must decide is whether the county will get credit for the millions of gallons of treated water that they put back into the lake. If the county gets credit for this water, it will greatly increase amount of water available to go in at citizens – the County has a permit which only allows them to withdraw a certain amount of water every day.

The Chairman also discussed commercialization and privatization of regional airports such as Briscoe field.  Mrs. Nash said that she was against commercialization when it was a big issue a number of years ago and she still against it now. Aside from the disruption to nearby residents, the project would have required the County to enter into an arrangement with the federal government to fund airport operations if the airport couldn’t do it themselves. This situation occurred at an airport in Denver where the city was on the hook for millions of taxpayer dollars every year.
Traffic remains a major issue, and the county is still working to improve traffic flow. One of the things that they receive the most accolades for is when they approve an intersection (which they have done a number of times in the past year).

One of the attendees asked about the emergency alert system that was promised to be installed with the passage of a SPLOST several years ago. Chairman Nash said that this is indeed in the works. The schools have been discussing options and proposals were being investigated. It’s possible some systems could be up and going within the next 12 months. In addition to offering an easy way to instantly alert Gwinnett County that incident is happening inside the school, one of the most important aspects of the system will be the fact that emergency personnel will have immediate access to all of the cameras within the school which will allow them to assess the situation before they decide to enter.

When asked if there were any areas of the budget that she felt could still be reduced, Chairman Nash respond that they made significant cuts of the economic downturn for five years ago, and have really not increase spending very much in years. Another issue discussed was the County transit system (buses), which, like transit systems all across the country, loses money every year. However because of funding taken by the county from the federal government as part of the clean air act many years ago, it would cost the county much more to shut down the servers and repay the federal government then they could afford to do it at this time.  Someone asked if some of the low-use buses could be replaced with small vehicles, like vans, and the Chairman said that had been discussed.


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