It’s official, Gwinnett: Your property taxes are going up
January 17, 2017, Atlanta - The array of names on the front of the round desk in the Gwinnett County Justice Department’s auditorium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. (HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM)
It’s official, Gwinnett: Your property taxes are going up.
In a split 3-2 vote Tuesday afternoon, the county's Board of Commissioners set its overall millage rate at 13.51 mills, a net increase of about 0.334 mills from 2016's rate. County officials have estimated that owners of an "average" house in Gwinnett — valued at $200,000 — will see a spike of about $21, or 2.3 percent, on their annual tax bill.
The extra money collected by the county, officials said, will help balance the 2017 budget — and also help address retention issues among Gwinnett’s law enforcement officers.
“It is our responsibility to make sure that the services we provide are to the standards that they require,” District 2 Commissioner Lynette Howard said. “And to make sure that we have the safety that we need for our citizens.”
The Gwinnett County Police Department has struggled with attrition for years, in part because of new city departments elsewhere in metro Atlanta being able to offer better salaries. Chief financial officer Maria Woods has said the county is about 7 percent behind comparable jurisdictions in pay for entry level public safety jobs.
A new rank and accompanying paygrade were also created for experienced officers. The increased millage rate will help pay for those changes, officials said.
District 3 Commissioner Tommy Hunter and District 4 Commissioner John Heard voted against raising the millage rate. Heard made a failed motion to adopt a “revenue neutral” rate of 12.718 mills — a level that would generate the same revenue created in 2016.
Heard said he made the motion based on what he was hearing from the public.
The Board of Commissioners held three public hearings on its millage rate. Only about a dozen people, total, attended the meetings.
Most were against the millage rate increase. Paul Tucker, a retired Gwinnett County police major, had a different point of view.
"I don’t want to pay more taxes,” the 29-year GCPD veteran said during Monday night’s public hearing. “But this is critical. We are absolutely at a critical point.”
School taxes will also factor into Gwinnett homeowners' tax bills.
The county's Board of Education opted to hold its own millage rate steady at 21.85 mills, meaning only homeowners whose properties have increased in value will pay more school taxes than in 2016.
About 63 percent of the county's residential properties saw a change in value on this year's assessments, chief appraiser Stewart Oliver said in April. The average change in those properties was an increase of about 12 percent.
Before taking over the AJC's morning newsletter, Tyler Estep worked as a reporter covering DeKalb County, its government and its people. A Gwinnett County native and University of Georgia graduate, he has been with the AJC since 2015. He previously covered his home county and served stints on the paper's hyperlocal and breaking news teams.