Here are the issues and projects local government leaders presented to Hall County's state legislature delegation during Friday's meeting at Lanier Technical College in Oakwood.
City of Flowery Branch
City Manager Bill Andrew told the delegation the city needs $20,000 for water valves and fire hydrants in the city's Old Town area. Currently, the city has to completely shut off the water in the Old Town district to replace water valves in that area. Andrew said the city is spending $1 million upgrading facilities in the area.
City of Lula
Mayor Milton Turner and Dennis Bergen told the members of the delegation that the state water plan concerns them, because it focuses more on water quality than water quantity. Bergen asked how the state was going to pay for the execution of the water plan.
City officials are opposed to HR900 as it has been proposed.
Turner told the members of the delegation that the Local Assistance Road Program does not work, there could not be a more inefficient approach to road improvements. He said the city spent $16,000 to prepare a 0.3-mile stretch of road for a $9,000 credit from LARP funding.
Turner and Bergen said the city has increased its spending over the past 18 years to make needed improvements to the city's infrastructure. They asked for state officials to consider funding $250,000 of the city's water and sewer improvements. The city would like to build two new water wells and expand their McCloud Street pump station. The estimated cost of the three projects combined is $510,000.
Turner told the delegation of the city's plans to redevelop its downtown area. Turner said one aspect of the redevelopment would be a "Veterans Park" that will recognize local veterans. Lula has raised about one-third of the money needed to complete the $600,000 project, and Turner asked that the state match those funds. He said if Lula did not develop its downtown before the Hagan Creek community was developed across the highway, then Lula would go away.
Hall County Commissioners
Assistant Hall County Administrator Phil Sutton told the delegation that the proposed tax plan is discouraging, and the commissioners did not like the idea of having the state completely control the county's funding.
The commissioners said they would like to see more elected officials on the Metro North Georgia Water Planning Board in order to make sure local views are represented in the district's decision-making processes.
Commissioners said the General Assembly needs to increase transportation funding for local governments, especially for LARP.
City of Oakwood
City Manager Stan Brown told the delegation Oakwood had more than 100 annexations this year. He asked the delegation to find a way to fund $25,000 of the improvements on the Oakwood City Park. Oakwood officials want to build a multi-purpose court for basketball and volleyball on the park. The project will cost the city about $70,0000, Brown said.
City of Gainesville
City Manager Bryan Shuler expressed his concerns for House Speaker Glenn Richardson's proposed tax plan, HR900. He called the plan a moving target, and said Gainesville currently has a diverse tax base that protects the government from any changes in the economy. Shuler said he would hate to see a system that was more reliant on a single source of revenue. Shuler announced the City Council's support for the re-appointment of Mike Evans to the Department of Transportation Board. Shuler said Evans has been open and accessible to Gainesville officials, and they would like to see him serve another term.
Shuler said the last draft of the state water plan did not have a provision for local representation. Shuler said he hoped that would change.
Gainesville is pursuing a downtown parking deck and planning construction of a new police and fire station. Shuler did not ask the delegation for a specific amount of money to help fund the projects, but he asked that the state help in any way it could. Shuler also asked that the state help with the city's investment in sewer facilities on the Sardis Road Connector.
Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce
Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Kit Dunlap said the chamber supports legislation for new reservoirs, and asked that the delegation help speed up permit approval time with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
Dunlap said the chamber supports the water plan, but said the state must fund it for it to work.
Dunlap asked that the delegation support the construction of a perimeter highway around the city of Gainesville, and support the extension of MARTA through Gwinnett County and eventually to Gainesville.
Dunlap urged the delegation to continue with tort reform and Certificate of Need legislation.
Dunlap said the chamber cannot support HR900 as it is, but that property taxes cannot continue to rise.
Dunlap asked that the delegation continue looking for ways to curb the growth of undocumented immigrants in the Hall County area.
The chamber expressed its support for state funding of greenspace.