I appreciate recent comments by Julie Tressler [letter to the editor in the Forsyth County News Sunday, July 7 edition], and the opportunity to clarify what was discussed about the city of Cumming collection of fees. Like many governments, Forsyth County levies impact fees on new construction to pay for the facilities and capital equipment needed to serve additional residents and businesses.
Radio towers for 911 service, new fire stations and vehicles, and library improvements serve all county residents. The county collects impact fees from new construction in the unincorporated area for these countywide programs.
The city has not collected them for new construction in the city but could easily do so, since the city collects its own impact fees for parks and recreation, and for transportation. In the absence of impact fees from the city, either we shift the burden to existing residents and businesses through countywide taxes or are slow to meet our standards.
Sales tax revenues are distributed in accordance with state guidelines. Georgia recognizes tax collections by county boundaries. Collections within Cumming largely reflect spending by the roughly 97 percent of county residents who live outside city limits, as well as visitors and business travelers.
City residents and businesses benefit from our exceptional sheriff’s office. Deputies are generally most visible in unincorporated Forsyth County, but the Sheriff is responsible for certain law enforcement functions county wide such as jail operation and courts security.
All residents benefit from specialized resources like K9 and SWAT, which would be difficult and costly for the city to duplicate, and the Sheriff supplements city resources for special events.
A “pro-business environment” can have various characteristics. The city imposes franchise fees on water, electricity, and natural gas bills for both residents and businesses that the county doesn’t levy on unincorporated residents and businesses. We all benefit from extensive public input into a County Comprehensive Plan structured to deliver what the people in our county want.
Add to that the resources and time the Board of Commissioners have committed to coordinate and expedite our planning and review processes, and a new Economic Development Ordinance, and Forsyth County is clearly open for business.
Eric R. Johnson
Forsyth County Manager