Gwinnett County commission keeps tax rate flat, with some dissent

Credit: Jenni Girtman for the AJC

Credit: Jenni Girtman for the AJC

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted 4-1 to keep its property tax rate the same.

The general fund tax rate will remain 6.95 mills, or $6.95 per $1,000 in assessed value. Other property tax rates for emergency services, recreation and economic development did not change, totaling 14.71 mills in unincorporated Gwinnett. Cities and Gwinnett County Public Schools set their own tax rates.

The vote passed over the objections of District 1 Commissioner Kirkland Carden, who said he spoke for constituents in asking the general fund tax rate to be rolled back to 6.088 mills this year, the rate estimated to keep revenue neutral in the face of rising assessments.

About 60% of residential properties in Gwinnett are protected by the value offset exemption, which keeps their assessed values constant. Owners of those properties will not see an increase in the county government portion of their tax bill, although their school or municipal taxes might increase.

Carden noted inflation in the United States is at a 40-year high and renters and business owners do not benefit from the value offset exemption.

“The cost of living continues to rise in Gwinnett, putting pressure on family finances as wages have not met that rate of inflation,” he said. “If Gwinnett county government is in a position where we can provide residents with some tax relief, why not? After hearing from residents, I feel it is important that my vote be cast in a manner that reflects the public’s will on this issue.”

District 2 Commissioner Ben Ku said most of the comments were from homeowners who benefited from the value offset exemption but were reacting to increases in school or city taxes.

Inflation is also raising the cost of fuel, food, construction materials and other purchases required of the county, Ku said.

“For us to meet the superior level of service our residents deserve and expect, it is important that this board sets a millage rate that adequately funds the core services that are provided by Gwinnett County government,” he said.

The vote was delayed by two weeks after commissioners failed to achieve a quorum for one of three state-mandated public hearings on the millage rate, which was subsequently rescheduled. The tax commissioner’s office is expected to send out bills next month, with payments due in November, according to a county news release.