Forsyth County Commissioners returned to the county this week after meeting several elected officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, in Washington, D.C. and hand-delivering a request regarding a Lake Lanier water intake to members of Georgia’s delegation.
Earlier this week, Forsyth County Commissioners Dennis Brown, Cindy Jones Mills and Todd Levent went to Washington as part of the Georgia Elected Officials Conference. The event was hosted by the administration of President Donald Trump.
“This was a special invitation from the White House and the cabinet members … to brief us on intergovernmental affairs between the state and local officials and the federal government,” Brown said on Wednesday, as commissioners arrived back in Georgia. “They gave us points of contact and linked us up with people to get things done in the federal government.”
On Tuesday, the commissioners attended a conference with Pence, Sen. David Perdue and representatives from many federal departments including Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Georgia’s former governor.
“It’s nice when the administration reaches out to local governments and works with them, knowing when they change laws, how it helps us or hurts us,” Levent said. “So, it was nice to have the feedback, the conversations [and] the interactions.”
Mills said one topic making national headlines that was discussed was the current push for a new tax plan.
“We heard a lot about tax reform,” she said. “We heard about the changes we needed to be, I guess, a little leery of and was a little bit more worrisome than what you would just hear about in the news.”
Mills said discussions of the tax plan were over the need to reduce the deficit and what the best course of action for doing so might be.
All three commissioners expressed gratitude for the federal government working with and hearing concerns from local governments.
During the trip, the commissioners made stops at the White House and the U.S. Capitol and Levent said he had the opportunity to shake hands with Pence, who was a speaker at one of the meetings.
Mills said the timing of the visit was also a special treat.
“It was particularly nice to be able to tour the White House during Christmas,” she said. “All of us commissioners that were there, that were going through, we all felt very blessed and fortunate that a president would care enough about the county that he would reach out and offer this to us.”
The offices of state and the offices of some of Georgia’s congressional members, including District 7 Rep. Rob Woodall and District 9 Rep. Doug Collins, who represent the county.
While on the trip, commissioners hand-delivered to Woodall, Collins and Sen. David Perdue a resolution passed on Nov. 28 asking for a water intake pipe into Lake Lanier.
“We also visited multiple congressmen in their offices and were able to hand off our resolution asking for our easement into the lake for our own pipe,” Levent said.
Levent said being able to deliver the resolution was a good start but also encouraged the community to reach out to their representatives on the matter. It was estimated at a recent work session the intake could save the county up to $13.9 million in water fees from 2018 through 2022.
“[Residents] need to write their U.S. senators and their U.S. congressman,” Levent said. “It’s essential they write them [for this] pressing need.”