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The Local Agenda: Commissioners plan to look at disinvestment
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The Hall County Board of Commissioners is looking at starting a practice of ensuring that county pension money isn’t invested in financial institutions “with active business operations in the petroleum and energy industry” in Iran or Sudan.

The board is set to vote on a resolution on the matter at its 6 p.m. Thursday meeting at the Georgia Mountains Center.

If approved, county finance officials would be directed to keep a constant watch on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s website, said Commissioner Ashley Bell, who introduced the resolution.

The resolution states that federal elected officials have “declared that atrocities and genocide have been committed against the citizens of regions in Sudan” and that Iran has “failed to suspend” uranium-related activities in nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Other governments in the state, including Atlanta and DeKalb County, have passed similar resolutions.

“And for me, I think it’s important that when taxpayer money is going toward these investments that we make sure we’re not investing in countries and entities that aren’t friendly to Hall County or to (the) relationship with our allies in the Middle East,” Bell said after the meeting.

“For me, this is a great opportunity to hold ourselves accountable, to make sure that if we’re going to be putting out about $50 million of our pension fund ... in the marketplace, if we’re asking folks to make the best return on that investment, then we’re also asking them to not compromise our moral values,” Bell said after the meeting.

The commissioners also could vote to spend $500,000 from the county’s special purpose local option sales tax money, as Hall’s share in the Georgia Department of Transportation widening of Ga. 347/Lanier Islands Parkway from McEver Road to the Lake Lanier Islands resort.

“The state is looking (for) a $1 million match to get this project moving forward,” said Ken Rearden, the county’s public works director. “There’s a large property owner that’s probably willing to donate the property that’s (worth) about $500,000.”

The balance of the match would come from the county for right-of-way acquisition.

The project calls for a three-lane road with a 10-foot multiuse trail on one side and a 5-foot sidewalk on the other side along the 2.4-mile stretch, Rearden said.

Construction is scheduled for 2014-15.

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