Lilburn drops out of group battling Gwinnett over services

Lilburn officials voted Wednesday morning to drop out of a municipal coalition fighting Gwinnett County over a state-mandated agreement to avoid duplicating services.

It is the first crack in a 15-city alliance that has been arguing with the county for more than two years over the accord. The Service Delivery Strategy establishes which services, such as police, fire and planning, the county will provide to its cities. Gwinnett's agreement with its cities expired in March 2008, and negotiations for a new pact have been in stalemate.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs placed the county and cities on its out-of-compliance list last month, a move that could cost them millions of dollars in state grants. Governments on the list may not receive state-administered financial aid or permits.

Moreover, the Gwinnett Municipal Association, which has been representing the cities in the negotiations, has run up  more than $300,000 in legal fees over the feud.

"We're representing the citizens of Lilburn and we feel this is reasonable given the economic times," said Mayor Diana Preston. "A lot of it has to do with that we don't have a beef with the county. One size does not fit all."