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Gwinnett Service Delivery Ruling: What Happens Next?

County is ordered to set up special service districts to fund some services. Police radar use remains unclear.

Now that the ruling in the long-running Service Delivery Strategy (SDS) legal dispute between Gwinnett County and many of its cities has been issued, the question is: What happens now?

Also, when will the Gwinnett Police Department and several of the police departments in affected cities be able to use radar to track speeders again?

The answers:

  • At this time, it is unclear when police may resume use of radar. Judge David Barrett's 58-page order, issued Friday (Sept. 23), apparently made no mention of this matter. It is a sanction growing out of the dispute.
  • The county has been ordered to set up Special Service Districts to fund some services, such as those in unincorporated areas -- and all roads in the county, including those in city limits.

The SDS ruling favors the cities in the Gwinnett Municipal Association on key matters. Barrett's order expressly said that the county has no authority to levy a tax or fee on residents of a city whose municipality does not accept and jointly fund an SDS service, such as police.

The county now must set up by Nov. 1 Special Service Districts to handle funding for some services, such as transit, tax assessment and health and human services. The cities have until Nov. 21 to file objections they may have to the county setup. The two sides must resolve differences by Dec. 7.

For instance, the judge ordered that the county must set up a Special Service District to provide for all roads. "The County Road System is not primarily for the benefit of the unincorporated area, but is a part of a system which truly cannot be divided. It is an organic whole," the order read. 

"The County shall fund the Department’s Road costs from a special service district and should such be inadequate from funds of the general revenues of Gwinnett County, to include all means of county wide revenues," the order read.

The county also has been ordered to include the Special Service Districts in their annual budgets beginning with the 2012 fiscal year, which is now in the planning stages.

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