CUMMING — Forsyth commissioners are considering the possibility of limiting smoking around county facilities.
The topic, which surfaced during a work session Tuesday afternoon, stems from the construction of the new courthouse and detention center facilities downtown.
The structures are scheduled to be complete by spring 2015.
“There are some cities and counties and private businesses that go smoke- or tobacco-free,” said Doug Derrer, county manager. “The footprint for [the courthouse and jail] is quite small … which won’t leave a lot of room for smoking areas.
“We can carve some areas for smoking, if we’re going to move in that direction, but I just wanted to open up the dialogue and see if there was an interest in going with smoke-free or tobacco-free for these facilities or any other facilities in the county.”
According to Derrer, the county’s current policy bans smoking within 25 feet of the entrance to a government building.
Commissioner Pete Amos said he would prefer to have designated areas for smoking outside the new facilities, rather than just saying people must a certain distance away.
“I would hate to see a 25-foot line from the building and everybody stands out there and people have to walk through it to get into the building,” he said. “I could see some complaints from that.”
But he added that it’s important to have some sort of designated smoking area, particularly at the courthouse.
“The jurors, some of them probably do smoke, so you would need a place for them to gather,” he said.
Commissioner Todd Levent suggested that administrators of public buildings should be able to have some say in where smoking areas are located, or if they want to go smoke-free.
Ultimately, commissioners directed Derrer to gather input from Chief Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Bagley, who is considered the administrator of the new courthouse, and Sheriff Duane Piper, administrator of the jail, on the matter before any final decisions are made.
“So what I hear is … we’ll be discussing primarily a designated area for smoking,” Derrer said.
Also in relation to the jail and courthouse project, commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to make an adjustment in the sheriff’s office budget.
The adjustment releases $1.85 million to support hiring additional employees for the new facilities.
Sheriff’s Maj. Rick Doyle said agency leaders estimate they will need to hire about 87 new deputies to staff the facilities, which will each be much larger than the buildings they are replacing.