The lingering Services Delivery Strategy (SDS) dispute between Gwinnett County and several of its cities is ...lingering. Both sides say talks are ongoing, but bottom line is there's no deal.
The matter came up again this week during budget-review sessions for the Gwinnett County government, and it manifests itself every time a police officer in the county has to use his instincts rather than technology to try to arrest the driver of a speeding vehicle.
The double-taxation matter dates to 2009, when the county sued the cities in the Gwinnett Municipal Association. The amount of money at stake has been estimated at $14 million. Lilburn since has settled with the county.
Judge David Barrett of the Enotah Judidical Circuit in Blairsville is presiding in the case and can issue a settlement order at any time. His office only says the matter is "under review."
Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash said this week that talks with the cities are ongoing. She would not say when the next session is planned. "That is of a confidential nature," she said.
One of the judicial-imposed sanctions in the case is that police agencies in several of the cities as well as the Gwinnett County police can't use radar or laser to issue speeding citations.
Gwinnett Police Chief Charles Walters said: "It's hard to write a speeding ticket without radar. It's not just speeding, but what other crimes are we missing by not making the initial stop?"
Van Stephens of the Gwinnett County Law Department, which is involved in negotiations, said some "out of the box" thinking on SDS is "necessary."
Both cities and the county admit that revenue from speeding tickets is down because of the sanctions. "We're both feeling the decline," Nash said.
Gwinnett County is in a particularly difficult position in these talks. It is facing a revenue shortfall of about $30 million as it prepares its 2012 budget, so it apparently would not want to lose any more tax revenue.