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Yield signs, economic development focus of BOC annual retreat
FCN Yield Signs 2 011119
Cars turn right off Post Road into Vickery Village on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2019, while passing a yield sign. Yield signs in certain locations around the county have become the source of some confusion and concern among residents and county commissioners. - photo by Ben Hendren

Forsyth County Commissioners and county officials recently held a meeting slightly further away than those at the Forsyth County Administration Building.

On Friday and Saturday, commissioners and county officials attended an off-site special-called meeting at the Brasstown Valley Resort and Spa in Young Harris and discussed a variety of topics ranging from county employee pay to yield signs to ways to make the county more attractive to businesses.

A similar meeting was planned for Jan. 20 but was cancelled due to forecasts of inclement weather.

District 2 Commissioner Dennis Brown said commissioners could discuss items at the meeting, such as issues with yield signs, but could not take action.

County officials have previously discussed changes to certain yield signs in the county which have caused confusion for some local drivers, particularly in certain areas where drivers make a right turn to yield to those turning left.

Brown said the county will look at the signs in question on an individual basis to make sure they are complying with state rules.

“So, I guess a call for a reassessment countywide and then take down the ones they feel, at the discretion of the engineer, that go against either the GDOT policy or against the driving manual,” Brown said. “I guess there are some feelings out there that they kind of go against either some of the state policy or the driver’s manual.”

Brown said another topic of discussion was how to keep the county’s fleet of vehicles newer and on the road.

“We talked about the fleet study, about how to keep newer and more efficient cars at a lower cost to the county, so how we could save money there,” he said. “We have a lot of vehicles in the fleet that are not economically repairable and to try to get the age of the fleet to be newer, that was one of the things we discussed.”

To also keep government moving smoothly, Brown said there was a discussion on a study of county employee compensation. He said the county may have some flexibility to make offers to retain certain employees.

“Like, if we had a certain type of employee that we were losing to other localities and they were being siphoned off from us, during the exit interview or either leading up to that, we can actually be able to offer them a little bit more within a certain range,” Brown said. “That would allow us to retain quality, high-demand employees.”

In recent months, officials with the county, county development authority and the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce have discussed a new economic development ordinance, which is aimed at creating a plan to attract businesses to the community.

Brown said the county is looking to strike a balance with using incentives to attract businesses but not wanting to give too much away.

“We talked about things to make Forsyth County more attractive to businesses,” Brown said. “The topic of incentives came up about how we benchmarked with other localities as far as incentives and things. We had a discussion about that, and it’s like, ‘Well, do we really get our money when we do that?’ Some things would be maybe coming there anyway. We are a quality location, so we don’t want to short-sell ourselves.”

While many topics were brought up at the meeting, and Brown said it was useful to have all county staff together for the discussion, he did question why the meeting could not have been held closer to home.

“I think next time I’m going to actually recommend [we stay],” Brown said. “The only difference was we just drove extra to get there.”