Forsyth’s legislative delegates will hold a second town hall meeting at 5:30 tonight in the Three Chimneys Farm Clubhouse.
The event is the second of two organized by District 24 state Rep. Mike Dudgeon to gather community feedback.
The first meeting drew a small crowd, fewer than 20, to the Forsyth County Senior Center, but Dudgeon was pleased with the response.
“I wanted to try this format as it is a common for my colleagues around the state to do these meetings and I wanted to see if it was an effective communications tool in Forsyth County,” said Dudgeon, a Republican from south Forsyth.
“The discussion was what I was hoping for. We hit the important things from the session, such as tax reform, immigration and education.”
The conversation also landed — and stayed — on water. About half of the hour-long gathering was spent discussing the issue.
It was prompted by an audience question about the county not being able to get an intake permit to withdraw water from Lake Lanier.
District 23 state Rep. Mark Hamilton of Cumming explained that most all water issues are at a standstill as the tri-state water war legal battle continues between Georgia, Florida and Alabama.
The Environmental Protection Division director, Hamilton said, won’t put anything in writing because it can be used as evidence.
“You can pass resolutions at the county level, you can write letters, you can do all this stuff, but understand that he’s dealing with a … tri-state lawsuit and he’s not going to do anything to jeopardize Georgia’s position in that lawsuit,” the Republican lawmaker said.
The town hall began with a question from Forsyth County Board of Education member Ann Crow, who asked about how the bill to end the ad-valorem, or birthday tax, would impact income for school systems.
Crow said the tax generates between $6 and $7 million for the school system, or about the cost to run all the schools in the county for up to seven days.
“Your constituents hate the birthday tax and they wanted to see it eliminated,” District 27 state Sen. Jack Murphy, R-Cumming, told Crow.
She acknowledged that, but noted the constituents also “don’t want bad schools and they want roads.”
Crow added that she’s worried about losing additional funding for education.
Dudgeon said at least for a few more years it’s the state that likely would suffer the most.
“Basically the way it works is the cities, counties and school boards get their money first,” Dudgeon said. “And if they’re short money, it’s actually the state that is shorted.”
In addition to water and the ad-valorem tax, the legislators fielded questions about immigration, state ethics, zero-based budgeting and a veterans’ home fee.
Dudgeon said he looked forward to additional discussion tonight. The session is set for 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Three Chimneys Farm Clubhouse, off Windermere Parkway in south Forsyth.