Wrestling over annexation powers.

Counties and cities aren’t seeing eye to eye on the issue of annexation, and it’s coming to a head in the Legislature this year:

A recent flurry of Dacula annexations led (Gwinnett Commissioner Mike) Beaudreau to draft a formal resolution asking state lawmakers to change the state’s annexation law.

They appear to be listening.

State Rep. Doug Holt (R-Social Circle) has filed three annexation bills, including one that would put all annexation petitions in the hands of an independent arbitrator. Newton County and Social Circle have gone to court over a recent annexation dispute.

On Tuesday, representatives from the Association County Commissioners of Georgia and the Georgia Municipal Association met with members of the state House leadership to talk about a compromise. Among them was Rep. Donna Sheldon (R-Dacula).

Those talks failed, according to several who attended the meeting.

Clint Mueller, ACCG’s director of policy development, said one committee chairman threatened to provide a solution the two groups wouldn’t like if both sides couldn’t find common ground.

“We’re not willing to compromise on annexation because we’ve compromised on annexation over and over again,” said Amy Henderson, a GMA spokeswoman.

Gwinnett County prepared a report outlining the position that numerous annexations in Gwinnett were:

… an attempt by property owners to get a quicker, less restrictive zoning than the County would allow. Such annexations are often inconsistent with the land use plan and are little more than an attempt by the city to acquire high-value nearby property in an effort to boost a city’s tax base, while leaving the cost of service issues for the County to sort out.

I don’t know that there’s any easy answer to this dilemma. With County and City governments constantly looking for sources of revenue these battles are sure to continue. It will be interesting to see what, if any, legislation is passed this year.