Local voters had the opportunity to get to hear from candidates running for Forsyth County Commissioner District 1 on Thursday, April 28.
According to Jerry Marinich, chairman of the Forsyth County Georgia Republican Party, candidate Kerry Hill “had a commitment she couldn’t get out of” and was unable to attend the debate.
The other candidate, Tim Huffine, shared his thoughts on commercial growth, infrastructure and other capital projects with the crowd.
Economic development and growth
To control economic development and growth in the county, Huffine said that he wanted to redo the structure of the county government, including three divisions to oversee commercial and residential development, transportation and infrastructure and government expenditures.
He said that county commissioners should “be over those three divisions that report to them on what we can do to better the county.”
“I’m not asking any questions; I’ve got all the ideas,” Huffine said.
When asked about controlling economic development and growth in Forsyth County, Huffine said that tax abatements were the way to go.
“In order to grow [economic development], you need a tax abatement for 2-3 years to bring more corporations in,” Huffine said. “And I’m not just talking about Walmart; I’m talking about medium-size and small businesses that employ more people at a great wage that can afford these houses.”
With tax abatements, Huffine said the county would be able to “[draw businesses] in” to the county, creating an incentive for companies to stake claim in Forsyth.
Huffine also said that he did not support imposing impact fees on developers, claiming that the county had money to pay for new roads, water and sewer projects and other capital projects.
“I don’t believe you need to [have impact fees],” Huffine said.
Impact fees are often used in Forsyth County to help finance roads, sewer and water projects and parks.
Transportation and infrastructure
With the county projected to grow to more than 300,000 residents by the end of the decade, road congestion has become a concern for residents.
Huffine said that he believed Forsyth County was “on par” with the growth of Arlington, Texas, and Colorado Springs, as both cities are surrounded by a capital city.
Huffine said those cities have parallel arteries running along major highways to help alleviate traffic, and he could think of “about 10 different” designs to help improve congestion.
One such improvement would be to follow Alpharetta’s “jam-up job” of installing double- and triple-laned roundabouts. He also said the county should have a three-year master plan instead of five to help respond to growth.
Huffine said that the county should focus on spending money on roads and infrastructure improvements instead of other projects.
“We’ve got to get that transportation money now,” Huffine said.
County commissioners finalize and approve the fiscal budget every year.
When asked about shielding certain parts of the budget from cuts, Huffine said that “everything should be subject to [cuts].”
“You’ve got to take the good with the bad,” he said.
Marinich asked if Huffine was willing to cut the public safety funding.
“I looked at the fire [department’s] budget and the budget’s kind of high. Police budget’s right in there,” Huffine said. “I’m really all about tax relief. But I’m not going to cut [public safety].”
For more information about the elections and to check out a sample ballot, visit the voter registrations and elections website.