Engage Gwinnett: Citizens Committee for the Future of Gwinnett County was a citizen-led initiative comprised of representatives from 30 community stakeholder groups and 10 self-selected citizens leaders who spent approximately six months looking at the community’s needs for current and future government services and proposed funding strategies to pay for those services over five years (2009 – 2013).
Engage Gwinnett volunteers sought common ground, workable solutions, and compromises when necessary. They involved the community in the process of making informed recommendations to the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners about future service levels, funding needs, and revenue resources. The initiative kicked off with a public meeting on September 9, 2009, and concluded with a presentation of the committee’s comprehensive report to the Board of Commissioners on April 27, 2010.
After the presentation of the committee’s comprehensive report, Gwinnett County continued its efforts toward consideration and implementation of the committee’s many recommendations. On August 15, 2012, the County released a final report to the recommendations made by both Engage Gwinnett and its technology-focused offshoot, the Excellence Though Innovation Task Force. Although formal reporting is ending, the valuable contributions by these citizens and their ideas will live on.
By the time of the final report, Gwinnett County had taken action on approximately three-quarters of the recommendations made by Engage Gwinnett and pledged that progress will continue on the remaining recommendations. Those actions reduced annual spending by millions of dollars and created new sources of income for county government, offsetting declining tax revenues.
Another significant result of Engage Gwinnett was a follow-up review of the County’s computer systems, policies, and processes conducted by a group of outside volunteers with relevant knowledge and experience. The Excellence Through Innovation recommendations were aimed at maximizing efficiency and prioritizing long-term information technology goals. The County had accepted and acted on approximately one-third of those suggestions by the publication of the final report; progress will continue on the remaining recommendations.
Together, these two teams of citizen volunteers had a significant impact on County operations and finances. They donated countless hours of valuable time and brought a variety of outside perspectives and priorities to the table. Yet again, the Gwinnett County community pulled together to weather a perfect storm of global recession and falling tax revenues with a steadily growing population and increased needs for services.
For many years to come, we will continue to feel the impact of budget cuts resulting from these recommendations. Gwinnett is now on a more sustainable path of less costly and increasingly efficient government that provides a firm foundation for future growth of our local economy.
This was a very challenging and time-consuming process, and the Board of Commissioners has expressed deep appreciation for the support of everyone involved.
To view Gwinnett County’s final report on Engage Gwinnett and Excellence Through Innovation recommendations, please click here.