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Township bill aired at Forsyth lawmakers meeting
Duncan - photo by FCN file photo

CUMMING — A state lawmaker from Forsyth County laid out his plans for the 2016 Georgia General Assembly and heard from voters during a town hall meeting Wednesday night.

A move to possibly allow a township-form of government in the state was among the issues that surfaced during the meeting organized by District 26 state Rep. Geoff Duncan.

“From what I understand, the township model says, ‘Hey, let’s not jump into every single service and area, let’s just focus on zoning and code enforcement,” Duncan told the gathering at the Cumming campus of the University of North Georgia.

“I’m going to go to those hearings, [but] I’m not in any of those committees.”

The township bill was introduced by Duncan’s fellow Forsyth Republican state Rep. Mike Dudgeon of District 25. It came in the wake of the local delegation’s decision not to pursue the possible formation of Sharon Springs in south Forsyth over state concerns about cities that offer limited services.

Duncan said a similar township bill had been introduced in 2008 by former District 24 state Rep. Mark Hamilton of Cumming.

The town hall meeting was the third of the month in Forsyth County. District 25 state Rep. Mike Dudgeon of south Forsyth held a similar gathering Jan. 7 at Lambert High School.

District 24 state Rep. Sheri Gilligan and District 27 state Sen. Michael Williams held a joint session Jan. 11 at West Forsyth High School.

With Dudgeon’s announcement this week that he would not seek re-election, Duncan is poised to become the longest serving member of the local state delegation who lives in Forsyth. Duncan, who was first elected in 2012, has not yet said whether he will run this year for a third term.

A proposed impact fee for schools, which would require a state constitutional amendment and has been sought by the county school system, was also discussed during the town hall meeting Wednesday night.

Duncan said legislators would continue working towards the issue, but it was a “hard sale” for some other parts of Georgia.

“Boy, we got a lot of people’s attention down at the Capitol with that one,” he said. “The challenge with that issue is that you can’t see it with almost any other scenario in this state, and obviously it has to pass with a state referendum.”

One of the bigger issues being discussed statewide is allowing casinos, a measure that Duncan said he didn’t support. He also questioned some of the rhetoric used by supporters of the industry.

“Part of the conversation is that casinos have talked about that it is going to help or to save the HOPE Scholarship fund, and I want to make sure that discussion doesn’t get too blurred, because I’m not sure that it does that,” Duncan said.

As for fireworks, which were legalized in Georgia last year, Duncan said he favored more local control over the times they can be fired. However, he suspects they will remain legal.