Police in seven Gwinnett County cities, including the Lilburn Police Department, won't be able to use laser or radar for speed enforcement come Jan. 1 if the services dispute in Gwinnett County remains unresolved.
For residents in Greater Lilburn that means the city and Gwinnett police departments would have to use officer observation and other enforcement methods due to restrictions involved in the multimillion-dollar impasse between city and county leaders.
If the dispute — which is now in the hands of a judge — is not settled before the end of the year, the county and its 15 cities will be out of compliance with state law, preventing police forces from being issued permits to use the speed-detecting devices. The current permits expire after Dec. 31.
City police departments in Suwanee, Duluth, Norcross, Snellville, Lawrenceville and Auburn would also be affected.
"I'm not hopeful [of a resolution of the dispute]," Lilburn City Manager Bill Johnsa said Friday afternoon. "We fully expect to be working without the proper permit come Jan. 1."
"It's a big safety issue," Johnsa added, but it also impacts city revenue. Last year, Lilburn gained more than $400,000 through speeding tickets, he said.
Lilburn's ability to get the permits, along with access to state funding and grants, is affected despite the city's interim agreement with the county. The city is not part of the current impasse.
Service Delivery Strategy Law guidelines require the county seat (Lawrenceville), all cities of 9,000 or more and half of the cities with populations between 500 and 9,000 to have an agreement with the county for all to be in compliance, Johnsa said. The SDS was enacted to prevent double taxation for services.
Johnsa said Lilburn has petitioned Gov. Sonny Perdue to step in and help hammer out a solution.
City leaders are bracing to go into 2011 without a service agreement.
"I'm not very hopeful," said Randy Meacham, managing director of the Gwinnett Municipal Association. "If the judge issued an order today, it would be tough."
The municipal dispute that began in March 2009 faltered again this week when the GMA and the county Board Of Commissioners could not reach a settlement. Gwinnett cities do not want to be taxed for county services that they do not use. They put the figure at $14-25 million.
Some 80 percent of Gwinnett County is unincorporated and therefore gets police services from Gwinnett Police.
"There is a chance for this to be resolved," Joe Sorenson, spokesman for the Gwinnett Police, said Friday.