Vote set for $1.67B Gwinnett budget, a significant increase over 2017

Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash following her 2017 state of the county address. TYLER ESTEP / TYLER.ESTEP@AJC.COM

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Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash following her 2017 state of the county address. TYLER ESTEP / TYLER.ESTEP@AJC.COM

Gwinnett’s Board of Commissioners is expected to formally adopt the county’s proposed 2018 budget on Tuesday.

Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash first proposed the roughly $1.67 billion budget in late November and said this week she was "not aware of any substantive changes" being considered before Tuesday's vote.

The proposed 2018 budget is about 9 percent higher than the county’s 2017 budget. About one-third of the increase would be used to extend recent raises given to county employees and law enforcement personnel.

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Nash and her fellow commissioners approved in October a surprise resolution that gave a 3 percent pay raise to all county employees — plus an additional 4 percent increase to sworn employees of the county police department, sheriff's office, department of corrections and 911 center.

The budget proposal also includes funding for 151 new positions throughout the county government. Sixty-six of those jobs would go to the Gwinnett County Police Department, with more than half of those helping staff a new precinct planned for the Bay Creek area near Grayson and Loganville.

Three dozen new jobs would be created at the Gwinnett County fire department. Those positions would be used to staff new medical units at Station 27 in Dacula and Station 30 in Loganville, which are the only two stations in Gwinnett without such units.

The county held a public hearing on the budget proposal on Dec. 5. Only about a dozen residents spoke, most of whom advocated for Sunday voting to be included in Gwinnett's early voting offerings for the 2018 general election.

Early Gwinnett voters often waited for hours to cast their ballots in 2016's presidential election, and the county elections office requested funding for more advance voting — including at least a half day of Sunday voting — in the business plan it presented to Nash in August.

Adding Sunday voting would cost only about $13,000, a small drop in the big budget bucket, and the money is already included in the budget proposal, Nash has said. But she added that the money is likely to be placed in a reserve fund until the county knows how many polls workers it’s going to be able to recruit.

Online comments on the budget will be accepted through Dec. 31 and can be submitted at gwinnettcounty.com.

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