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Hall to submit grievances on unnecessary laws in state
Association County Commissioners will lobby to eliminate some measures
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With a new legislative session on the horizon, county governments are preparing their wish lists.

The Association County Commissioners of Georgia has asked county officials to help them compile a list of laws and regulations they feel are unnecessary and use up local resources. When the General Assembly convenes, the association will lobby to eliminate or temporarily halt some of these measures.

"We're trying to take those resources and provide more flexibility in how they're utilized and part of that is going back and looking at these things that constrain us in state law, seeing what's necessary and what we could do without, at least temporarily," said Clint Mueller, the legislative director for the Association County Commissioners of Georgia.

"We spend a whole lot of time and resources in county government with administrative overhead and planning. In today's environment, we have a lot less resources, and we've got to make sure we get as much of our resources to the front lines. In other words, paying the salaries of our public safety officers, keeping the courts open, providing money for a health department and those essential services."

For example, Mueller said counties are asked to prepare a number of reports for the state each year.

"Some of those aren't really utilized by anybody. They just get put on a shelf in a state agency and nobody ever looks at the information," Mueller said.

Assistant Hall County Administrator Phil Sutton said Hall County departments have not yet submitted specific requests.

State planning requirements could also be changed, at least temporarily. Mueller said a number of small Georgia counties do not have any kind of zoning laws, so the required state land-use planning is not needed in those areas.

"Depending on the size of the government, they're just spending a lot of money on it but they're not utilizing it," Mueller said.

Also on the legislative agenda for counties are revenue issues.

Mueller said counties believe there is a lot of money that is being held at the state level.

"We've got some of these fees that are being collected and not going to the intended purpose," Mueller said. "A lot of that money goes back to the local level and we're not getting any of that."

Sutton said Hall County is especially concerned about getting its fair share of revenue.

There are a number of fees that are intended to benefit local governments. For example, Sutton said a charge associated with prepaid mobile phones and phone cards should be coming to Hall County.

"There's a $1.50 associated with those that are supposed to support 911 services. But it doesn't come to us," Sutton said. "It's about $24 million from what I understand that's supposed to be coming to 911 centers around the state."

Earlier this year, city and county officials met at the Georgia Mountains Center to ask their legislative delegation for help making changes at the state level to bring home more sales tax dollars.

Hall County is one of four counties in the state that were selected to participate in a Department of Revenue pilot study that compared local business license data with Department of Revenue records.