Given a history of contentious feuding and fighting that often has marked negotiations between the city of Cumming and the county government, it’s hard to envision the two entities being honored for working together on a sales tax issue. Yet that is exactly what happened at the annual Law Day program last week, and rightfully so.
Each year for Law Day, the local bar association, as well as others nationwide, recognizes with the Liberty Bell Award those who have made an extraordinary contribution to the judiciary.
This year, that honor was presented to Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt and the members of the Forsyth County Commission, in recognition of their efforts in putting together a sales tax initiative to build a new jail and courthouse which was approved by voters.
That the need for a new jail and courthouse has long been well established is an understatement, but voters repeatedly turned down financing plans for construction on the projects prior to approving financing through sales tax revenues in a referendum last year.
Considering the number of times the projects had been defeated, the cooperative effort by city and county leaders to put them on the sales tax ballot was not without considerable risk. As Chief Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley noted during the presentation, the officials “showed courage in the face of fierce opposition” in deciding to make the new facilities part of the sales tax vote.
Financing from sales tax collections will allow the county to replace courthouse and jail facilities which have long been outdated and inadequate. The funding for construction could not have been the centerpiece of the sales tax vote without the cooperative effort of both the city and county governments.
Congratulations to both for the Law Day recognition, and to the local bar for acknowledging the significance of the actions of elected officials in both governments.
Congrats as well to Kathy Vail, a teacher at North Forsyth High School who also received Law Day recognition for her work with the county’s highly successful mock trial program since its inception in the 1980s.