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Commissioners discuss funding for district-focused projects
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Each of Forsyth County’s five commission districts may receive funding starting next year for special projects.

Last week, Forsyth County Commissioners discussed a potential fund of $250,000 for each district’s commissioner to pursue the projects starting in 2019. No action was taken, and the issue will come back at a future meeting.

“This kind of arose of during the city of Sharon Springs discussion, and the point was to provide district-focused financing to promote district-based initiatives to address branding, to address signage, to address beautification, to address node-specific planning and basically would give the board member the financial backing,” said County Attorney Ken Jarrard.

In county documents, the funds are stated to be used for projects such as micro land-use design, subareas, medians, intersections and trails.

Jarrard pointed out that though projects would be proposed by individual commissioners, the use of the funds would still need to be approved by the entire board.

“The next time you come to the county or the board with an initiative that your citizens in your district are demanding or requesting, you’ve actually got budgeted funds to assist you such that we’re not all scratching our heads and looking for where the funding for this is going to come from,” he said.

The funds were compared to the $50,000 each district receives for beautification projects. The money will come from the county’s general fund.

County Manager Eric Johnson said the funds would transfer year-to-year, which he said would deter a “use it or lose it” mentality.

“The ability to carry it over will discourage you from spending it on things just to show that you spent the money in your district,” Johnson said.

Use of the funds could also be used for consultants if county staff is busy with work from other projects.

“I think there needs to be a clear delineation of things that are funded through this mechanism versus people who are going to continue being on staff to do it, so it frees up the rest of them,” said District 2 Commissioner Laura Semanson.

Since the funding will not kick in until 2019, District 1 Commissioner Pete Amos, who is retiring at the end of the year and did not seek re-election, asked Molly Cooper, the sole candidate for the seat, her opinion on the funding.

“I think it’s a good idea to have it monitored and definitely have staff input on it,” Cooper said. “I think it’s a great idea to have it, I really do, because we have lots of plans of what we want to do.”

Commissioners will be able to also use funds in projects supporting both districts. Using funds for the purchase of land for projects was also discussed.