Posted: Monday, October 22nd 2012 at 9:32pm
Hall cities await arbitration, hear about Lanier
By Marc Eggers Staff
BUFORD – As representatives of the eight Hall County municipalities enjoyed dinner inside the exquisite and new City of Buford Community Center, quiet conversations among the city leaders alternated between the splendor of the new building and the stalemated Hall County Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) negotiations.
The quarterly meeting of the Hall County Joint Municipal Association was being hosted by the City of Buford and included representatives from Gainesville, Gillsville, Lula, Clermont, Oakwood, Flowery Branch, and Braselton.
"Mediation lasted about two or three hours last Tuesday and then stopped," Gainesville City Manager Kip Padgett said referring to the most recent LOST negotiations with representatives from Hall County government. "Our next step will be 'baseball arbitration'…but in the meantime we are open to further talks."
"We feel like the cities are the economic engines and there needs to be recognition of that in these negotiations," Padgett explained.
Chairman of Buford’s Board of Commissioners Phillip Beard added, "Us (the eight municipalities) sticking together is the big issue…it will lead to good things."
Time will tell.
Guest speaker Renee Unterman, State Senator from District 45, gave a report on the status of the Lake Lanier Caucus.
Unterman said that besides herself Senator Butch Miller, District 45, Senator Jack Murphy, District 27, and Senator John Wilkinson, District 50, were members of the Caucus.
"If you are a ‘Caucus’ it’s much easier to present your legislation and be cohesive and lobby together, to get your legislation passed," Unterman said, explaining the reason for the Lake Lanier Caucus.
And "three out of the four Senators in the Caucus are in leadership (positions), and that makes a big difference at the Capital."
"I’ve fought this battle many times in the General Assembly; when I talk about Lake Lanier I’m fighting with the Senator from Columbus," Unterman said.
Unterman said the topic of Lake Lanier arises often. "The water level is always going to be an issue for Lake Lanier…but now the new issue is public safety," Unterman said.
Unterman said that with safety moving forefront the often-suggested idea of requiring boat operator licenses has its merits, but any such legislation aimed at making Lake Lanier safer would apply to all lakes in the state.
"Why should someone in south Georgia on a 500-acre lake with one or two boats out there…be required to have a boating license? Anytime you present legislation like that you have to think about the whole state of Georgia."
Unterman invited all interested parties to attend the Caucus’s next meeting: Wednesday at 3 p.m. at the Northeast Georgia History Center in Gainesville.
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