Green announces tax reform plan

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett County Commissioner Lorraine Green on Monday announced a tax relief plan that would replace county property taxes with a 1-percent sales tax.

The Homestead Option Sales Tax, or HOST, would generate about $157 million, based on the current special purpose local option sales tax collections, Green said. That would be enough to offer a 100 percent homestead exemption for homeowners, who currently pay about $107 million in county property taxes, she said.

Green said HOST would also generate enough money to eliminate the county's storm water fee and reduce other county taxes.

"My tax relief plan would shift the cost of paying for county government away from homeowners and toward those who visit the county to shop," Green said. "Estimates are that as much as 40 percent of the money raised by a sales tax is paid by people who do not live in Gwinnett. My plan also would allow us to shift some of the burden to illegal immigrants who live here but currently avoid paying taxes."

Green said she will push forward with this plan if she is elected chairwoman of the Gwinnett County Commission. Green is running against Charles Bannister, the current Commission chairman, and Glenn Pirkle, an electrical contractor for Buford, in the Republican primary on July 15.

The plan would have to be approved by voters, but a referendum could appear on ballots as early as next spring, she said.

Homeowners would still have to pay property taxes levied by the school board. Gwinnett County Public Schools officials anticipate collecting $622 million in property taxes in the 2008-09 fiscal year.