Eaves: New day for Fulton County

Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves promised to lead the government in a new direction Thursday in his “State of the County” address to several hundred political, business and community leaders. Here are some of the highlights:

A new day: Eaves, a Democrat beginning his third term, said the recently elected County Commission will set a new course for a county that critics have long held up as an example of dysfunctional, inefficient government.

Two years ago, Republicans in the General Assembly redrew commission districts, which helped three Republicans win election to the seven-member board. Two of three new members are Republicans. The new commission took office in January and has found common ground on several issues.

Eaves said Fulton County would no longer be “the Rodney Dangerfield of government, where we don’t get any respect.”

“The present of Fulton County is bright because of the commission,” he said. “But the future of Fulton County is even brighter.”

Quick action: Eaves highlighted several accomplishments of the commission’s first four months: the election of bipartisan commission leadership, agreement on a $629 million general fund budget and the hiring of respected business and government leader Dick Anderson to be county manager. All of those votes were unanimous.

Eaves said commissioners are embracing consensus-oriented leadership – a style that differs from the infighting that sometimes marked the previous commission. “I finally enjoy my job,” he said.

Efficient and effective: Eaves pledged a new focus on government efficiency and customer service. He cited a recent consultant’s report that found the county can save tens of millions of dollars a year through centralizing administrative functions, purchasing reform and other changes.

He said that money can be returned to taxpayers or reinvested in more “robust and effective” public services, like health care, libraries, senior programs and criminal justice.

“I want my Republican friends, especially in the Legislature, to know that it’s not just Republicans who want efficient government,” he said. “Democrats want it, too. North Fulton wants it. South Fulton wants it.”

Thursday’s event was hosted by the Council for Quality Growth.

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