Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners adopts 2021 budget
In its first major vote of the year, the new Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners approved the 2021 budget.
The budget for 2021 totals $1.91 billion, up 3.7 percent from the 2020 adopted budget. It consists of a $1.47 billion operating budget and a $441 million capital improvements budget, which includes funds from the County’s SPLOST program.
“This budget addresses issues facing the County today and includes funds to help us face future challenges,” said Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson. “It is important that the budget maintain important continuity in the excellent services and programs provided by the County while allowing this new board some flexibility for new ideas.”
Some aspects of the budget were tightened to reserve funding to deal with the uncertain impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and for new initiatives and improvements by the incoming Board of Commissioners, such as warming stations during periods of extreme cold and performance audits to increase accountability and efficiency.
The January 5 meeting was the first for Hendrickson, District 1 Commissioner Kirkland Carden, and District 3 Commissioner Jasper Watkins, who were all elected to the five-member board in November. The three joined sitting District 2 Commissioner Ben Ku and District 4 Commissioner Marlene Fosque, who are both entering their third year in office.
The budget was developed by outgoing Chairman Charlotte Nash based on six strategic priorities affirmed by the previous board during its annual planning session in 2020.
After nearly a year of dealing with the impacts of COVID-19, the Safe and Healthy Community goal remains a top priority with additional funding for the Gwinnett Public Health Department and continued coronavirus response. The budget also sets aside resources for the Situational Awareness and Crime Response Center, 33 new police positions (30 of those sworn), an expansion at the Police Training Center, and improvements to the Fire Academy.
The budget addresses the Mobility and Access priority with funding for transportation projects, many of which are paid for by SPLOST. It also includes money for an airport master plan and enhancements to the County’s Advanced Traffic Management network designed to reduce traffic congestion and quickly respond to traffic incidents.
For the Livability and Comfort priority, the budget funds two new parks in areas that are underserved by recreation opportunities, renovates and maintains existing parks, provides funding for the Gwinnett County Public Library system, and supports the HomeFirst Gwinnett initiative’scoordinated approach to addressing homelessness.
Initiatives receiving funding to support the Board’s Strong and Vibrant Economy priority include the new Rowen knowledge community, the Gwinnett Entrepreneur Center, and the new Water Tower water innovation center.
New positions in Information Technology, Transportation, and Elections are funded to meet the needs under the Smart and Sustainable Government priority.
Under the Communication and Engagement priority, the budget funds a new Police Community Affairs section, plus renewed emphasis on recycling and solid waste management. The budget also enhances community outreach with new positions and a continuation of the Gwinnett 101 Citizens Academy and Gwinnett Youth Commission programs.
The budget was developed after department directors and elected officials each presented business plans for 2021 to the budget review team in the fall.
Commissioners held a public hearing on the budget December 9 and accepted comments in writing and online through December 31 before making their final decision.
Business plan presentations kick off 2021 budget preparation
County elected officials, department directors, and agency heads presented their business plans and financial resource requests for budget year 2021 beginning Monday, August 24. The budget presentations, which ran through Thursday, August 27, were heard by the budget review team made up of five Gwinnett residents who were invited by Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash to help set priorities and make recommendations for the proposed budget.
Most of this year’s committee members are veterans to the chairman’s budget review team: Thuy Hotle, retired planner, Gwinnett County Planning and Development; Asif Jessani, principal marketing and technology consultant, CCS: Marketing and Technology; Norwood Davis, CFO, 12Stone Church; and Keith Roche, Lawrenceville city councilman and retired business executive. New to the committee this year is Maurice Thompson II, a partner with Consultuoso. Mr. Thompson has experience managing budgets for nonprofits.
The Chairman’s proposed 2021 budget will be made available to the public and news media at the same time it is presented to commissioners in November. A public hearing on the budget will be held December 9, 2020. By County ordinance, the Board of Commissioners must adopt the annual budget during its first meeting in January.
The presentations will be aired on TV Gwinnett, the County’s government access cable television, and made available on demand on this webpage. Click the links below to watch the presentations or view the materials.