The talk was of compromise Tuesday from both Gwinnett County and various city officials when an agreement was announced to end the Service Delivery Strategy (SDS) dispute that began in 2009.
But you probably won't see any of the 15 cities in the agreement turning down any of the money coming their way. An estimated $28 million will be going from Gwinnett funds to the cities over a matter of years as a result of the agreement that was accepted Tuesday.
Formal approval also must be granted by Judge David Barrett of Blairsville, who presided over the legal matter and handed down a ruling in September that strongly favored the cities. But Tuesday's deal was crafted with the idea of making the judge's decision easy.
The issue was double taxation: The cities wanted tax relief for services that they already provide, such as police.
Another issue: Sanctions from the dispute mean that police in several cities and the Gwinnett Police Department can't use radar or laser to track speeders. If the judge approves the new deal, it's a matter of paperwork between the cities, the county and state officials to end that sanction.
Also, the new agreement sets up four Special Service Districts, to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013, to handle various functions, such as police.
"No one is totally satisfied, but by definition, that is what a compromise is," Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash said Tuesday after the county approved the deal.
Nash also mentioned "safety issues" as a motive for a new agreement, a reference to the police/radar situation.
The four districts created are:
- Fire and EMS District
- Loganville EMS District (Loganville has its own fire department)
- Police Services District
- Development and Enforcement District (DED).
The payments break down as follows:
- $820,000 to fund the Loganville EMS District
- One-time payment of $2.1 million to 14 cities and $128,000 to Lilburn to fund the new DED.
- Payments of $5.1 million to the "police cities" -- cities who have their own police departments -- and $413,000 to Lilburn. This is because the new police district will not take effect until Jan. 1.
- Annual payments of $1.5 million yearly for seven years to the police cities, and $120,600 to Lilburn for seven years. This is not explained, but could be to compensate the cities for "double taxation" in the past.
- $1.5 million yearly for seven years for 911 services provided by the police cities. This is because cities with their own police departments also provide their own dispatch services on calls that are routed by the Gwinnett Police Department.
- One time payments of $856,000 to 14 cities and $67,000 to Lilburn. The reason for this payment is not specified.
Other noteworthy items:
- Some of these monies will be paid from the general fund, and some from insurance premium taxes.
- The agreement renews every three years.
- Motor vehicle taxes for 2013 will be levied and collected based on the 2012 tax levy
- It is up to the cities themselves to decide how to distribute these monies, and they must disclose to the county how they have done so.