Gwinnett school district proposes lower tax rate

Gwinnett County Public Schools is proposing to lower the debt service tax rate by 0.25 mills. File Photo

Gwinnett County Public Schools is proposing to lower the debt service tax rate by 0.25 mills. File Photo

A month after recommending no change in the tax rate for the current fiscal year, Gwinnett County Public Schools is proposing to slightly lower it.

Residents whose properties are reassessed at a higher value will still likely see a tax increase.

The millage rate that funds maintenance and operations would remain at 19.70 for the third straight year, Joe Heffron, the district’s chief financial officer, told the school board at a public hearing on Thursday.

The millage rate that funds debt service, or bond repayment, would decrease from 1.90 to 1.65. The total rate would decrease by 0.25 mills, from 21.60 to 21.35.

Heffron said the projected tax base from the county tax assessor’s office was higher than the school district anticipated during the budget process, allowing the district to decrease the tax rate for debt service and still make all necessary payments.

Taxpayers whose property values don’t change would pay $5 less per $50,000 in home value, Heffron said, or $20 less for a $200,000 home.

He spoke at the first of three hearings on the millage rate as required by state law. Craig Lownes, the sole citizen who addressed the board, said he supported the proposed tax rate.

“I would encourage the board to place any surplus funds in the reserve fund or pay off the bonds,” Lownes said. “It would be prudent to pay off the debt.”

State law says local taxing authorities must either decrease maintenance and operation tax rates to offset increased revenue from property values or announce a tax increase and hold hearings.

The board will hold two more hearings at 11:45 a.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday in the board room at the J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center, 437 Old Peachtree Road NW in Suwanee.

School district tax rates

1. Maintenance and Operations (M&O) rate: Funds payroll, supplies and the school district’s daily activities.

2. Debt service rate: Pays off voter-approved school bonds for capital projects.