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Three things from this week's Forsyth County Commission meeting
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Forsyth County’s 2019 budget, state environmental information on a development on Buford Dam Road and clearing the way for a new medical company to come to town were among items approved this week by Forsyth County Commissioners.

The items, and others, were part of the commission’s regular meeting on Thursday, and all votes were 4-0, with District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills absent, unless otherwise noted.

Below are some of the commission’s actions.

Budget Hearing

In the next-to-last step in the 2019 budget process, which has been ongoing since this summer, Forsyth County CFO Dave Gruen gave a presentation of the budget, which will be balanced at about $137.9 million for the county’s general fund. Gruen said the final step will be commission approval of the budget at their Dec. 6 meeting.

“The general fund is, of course, the largest budget for the board and contains the widest variety of public services,” Gruen said.

The budget includes 37 new positions through the county’s general fund, 27 new positions through other funds, increase in health care and internal service costs and a 4 percent salary compensation adjustment for employees.

Other than the general fund, the budget includes the special revenue, grant and bond funds.

In May, commissioners approved the 2019 millage rate at 7.936 mills for the county rate, down slightly from a rate of 8.036 mills approved for 2018. The Forsyth County Board of Education approved a millage rate of 19.718 mills, meaning a total county rate of 27.654 mills.

The millage rate is the formula that calculates property taxes. One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value, which is 40 percent of the actual market value.

The county’s millage rate is made up of the net maintenance and operations, fire district and general obligation bond rates.

The only speaker during the public hearing was Kirk Wintersteen who said he supported the budget.

“I think over the long term and I think over the big picture, we have been very careful with money over a number of years,” he said.

Permit approved for Gant Medical

Last month, it was announced that Gant Medical, a manufacturer of medical products, was moving its North American headquarters to a 42,000-square-foot building on Shiloh Road.

At Thursday’s meeting, the project took another step toward reality as commissioners approved a county-initiated request for a conditional-use permit for the property.

“We are excited to bring our manufacturing facility to Forsyth,” said Gant Medical President Christian Viviers on Thursday.

Gant Medical is expected to start production in January 2019 and plans to create more than 100 jobs in the community within five years.

“This is going to be a great addition to the community, and we welcome you here,” said District 2 Commissioner Dennis Brown. “You picked a great place.”

The company manufactures products for medical, dental, assisted living, long-term and home care markets, and products from the facility will be sold across North America.

Gant Medical is the U.S. partner of Gant Innovations, a company based in the United Kingdom.

Before publicly revealing Gant Medical as the company looking at the property and seeking the inducements, the project was referred to as “Project Orion.”

According to information from the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, the project will have a minimum of $10.3 million in new capital investment, 124 new jobs will be created over five years with an average wage of $18.55 per hour and an additional 23 percent of the base salary in benefits, and pay over $886,979 in property taxes over the next 20 years.

Lanier Golf info

In an ongoing issue for residents along Buford Dam Road, commissioners are seeking further information about a pond at the former Lanier Golf Club.

Commissioners approved a letter to be sent to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division regarding the development of the former golf course, including whether stormwater runoff would impact Lake Lanier and to conduct “immediate soil and water quality testing” on the development.

The development has received renewed interest from neighbors following the closing of the golf course.

Issues surrounding the golf course go back more than a decade. The current battle to rezone the golf course appeared to be finished in December 2016, when Forsyth County Commissioners voted 3-2, with then-District 5 Commissioner Jim Boff and District 3 Commissioner Todd Levent opposed, to approve two zoning amendment requests tied to the course.

The approval cleared the way for a 321-unit residential development on the golf course, which had been an issue in the community for more than a decade and has resulted in multiple lawsuits.

That site plan included 71 townhomes, 155 single-family detached houses and 95 single-family residential Res-2 units.