Charles Bannister surprised many by defeating longtime Gwinnett Commission Chairman Wayne Hill last year and left lots of folks wondering what direction Gwinnett would be heading. Gwinnett Forum takes a short look at Bannister’s first year, which has gone well in my opinion:
Yet the jury is still out on his leadership style, with some wanting the chairman to be more active, and others applauding his methods. Meanwhile, another contingent of people in the county maintain that they see little difference in the overall direction of the county, with growth and development still the byword in Gwinnett.
Bannister himself would dispute that assessment. He sees less growth and is concerned about the revenue stream that the county generates. He anticipates far smaller growth than in five of the 12 years of the Hill Administration, when there was a $50 million increase in revenue. “We need to do something to encourage the tax base,” he says.
He talks about the need for more economic growth in commercial activity, “for houses don’t pay for all the services they require, and 60 per cent of the tax base comes from homeowners now.” (He is well aware of the impact of SPLOST revenues. He says that without this revenue “the county taxes would almost double” to maintain services as presently configured.)
To that end, Chairman Bannister is anticipating that the county will start getting into the business of boosting economic development itself. In recent years, it has relied upon the Chamber of Commerce for that activity, but now Bannister is talking about the need for an economic development officer “to compete.” He points out that neighboring Cobb County, for one, has such an office, and notes that they have been getting some big-name development that Gwinnett has missed.