A Gwinnett resident addresses the Board of Commissioners regarding the county’s proposed property tax rate hike on Tuesday afternoon. TYLER ESTEP / TYLER.ESTEP@AJC.COM
Photo: Tyler Estep
Photo: Tyler Estep

Residents voice displeasure with Gwinnett’s proposed tax hike

Gwinnett officials have proposed raising the county’s property tax rate — and most of the homeowners who spoke Monday at a pair of public hearings were not thrilled with the idea.

“People feel like they can come here and pay a little less taxes,” said Duluth resident Harry Holmquist. “And I feel like that might be going away.”

The Gwinnett County government announced earlier this month a proposal to set the 2019 general fund tax rate slightly higher than the 2018 rate but the same as 2017’s.

If the hike were imposed, an owner living in a home with a fair market value of $275,000 would pay about $19 more than under 2018’s rate, officials said. The same homeowner would pay about $52 more than if the county adopted a lower “rollback” rate that would create the same total revenue as the previous year.

The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote on the tax rate during its July 16 meeting.

During one of two public hearings Monday, several of the dozen or so residents who spoke grilled Commission Chair Charlotte Nash on how much additional revenue would be produced through the proposed hike.

“If you don’t have an estimate, then you don’t have any basis for raising the millage rate,” said Norcross resident Joe Newton, a longtime Nash foe.

Nash said during that meeting she didn’t know the precise numbers offhand. But in a second public hearing a few hours later, she said that the proposed rate would bring in around $6 million more revenue than if the 2018 rate were reinstated.

The county’s 2019 budget is $1.82 billion.

Nash — who stressed that the proposed rate increase is not yet set in stone — said that any new revenue would go toward the increased costs of doing things likes maintaining infrastructure and providing health care and pensions for county employees.

About 72 percent of property tax revenue from the rate the commission sets goes toward public safety and the courts system, officials said. The separate tax rate for schools is set by the school board.

“It’s not that it’s going to go for additions to the budget,” Nash said. “It really is to cover the costs.”

A third and final public hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. July 15, the night before the commission’s scheduled vote on the matter. The hearing will be held in the auditorium of the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive in Lawrenceville.

Comments can also be submitted online at gwinnettcounty.com.

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