(Lawrenceville, Ga., Aug. 20, 2009) - Gwinnett County Chairman Charles Bannister and the Board of Commissioners together with the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and other civic and business leaders are launching a community initiative called "Engage Gwinnett - Committee on the Future of Gwinnett County." Committee members will spend approximately six months looking at Gwinnett County's needs for current and future government services and proposing funding strategies to pay for them over the next five years.
Board Chairman Charles Bannister said, "Like most local governments around our region and our nation, Gwinnett is having to balance declining revenues with desired service levels. To come out of this recession successfully, as I know we will, we need informed recommendations from people throughout our community. We are asking 30 community stakeholder groups and 10 self-appointed citizen leaders to join with County government and chamber officials to strategically involve the community in the process of making informed recommendations about future service levels, funding needs and revenue resources."
The Engage Gwinnett public involvement initiative will inform, educate and involve the community to assist county elected officials and staff in making service and revenue decisions as they move Gwinnett forward. The committee will seek common ground, workable solutions and compromises when necessary to offer recommendations for the greater good of the community.
Committee chairmen will be Bill McCargo, Director of Community Relations for Cisco Systems (retiring Sept. 24, 2009), and Mike Levengood, a partner in the McKenna, Long and Aldridge LLP law firm. Both men have many years of experience in bringing people together to work for the good of the whole community.
Gwinnett Chamber President and CEO Jim Maran said the economic health of Gwinnett County should be a major consideration in the County's long-range planning.
"We support this initiative because appropriate investments in our infrastructure and services like public safety, transportation, recreation, economic development and more are essential to maintaining a world-class quality of life in Gwinnett County," said Maran. "Partnering with our Commissioners, local citizens and various stakeholder partners through this committee is the best way to collectively accomplish our long-term goals and is critical to the success of the initiative."
McCargo said, "Gwinnett has been very successful historically and continues to attract new businesses and residents because solid, long-range planning for future needs made this a great place to live, but the current economic crisis hit our local government hard just as it has our families and businesses. As committee chairs, Mike and I will work with the committee members to identify what services the county should provide and at what level. We will also look at criteria like growth projections, physical infrastructure plans and determine funding needs and potential revenue sources."
"Seeking the advice of community leaders to help find common-sense solutions may be one of the most important tasks we will do as a community because every citizen in the county has a stake in the direction and the environment we're creating for future generations," said Levengood. "We all share many of the same values and have the same expectations of our county government.
We will be holding several public forums during the process to share and gain ideas from the community at large. This is not a PR effort. It is a sincere, transparent opportunity for many people to become involved before the decisions have been made. It is an awesome undertaking, and we are up for it."
For citizens who would like to become involved in Engage Gwinnett, a public meeting will be held in September to share more information and where citizens will self-select 10 representatives to serve on the committee. The date and time of the meeting will be announced soon and posted on the county's website, www.gwinnettcounty.com.