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County seeks to split taxes
Judge considers two millage rates

LAWRENCEVILLE - A judge will consider a split millage rate for people who live in Gwinnett's cities and unincorporated areas during a hearing to allow the temporary collection of taxes next week.

County officials filed for the temporary collection order late last month after school leaders said they would have a hard time making teacher payroll if a dispute in property tax billing continued.

After county leaders in June voted down separate rates for county and city residents that would have imposed a 25 to 30 percent tax increase, they have refrained from setting a millage rate, saying city leaders threatened to file an injunction if separate rates were established at a time when county and city leaders are engaged in a court battle over services.

On Thursday, the county announced it would seek two different rates during Tuesday's hearing on the temporary collection, which will be considered by Gwinnett Superior Court Judge Timothy Hamil.

Compared to the 10.97 mills assessed to property owners throughout Gwinnett in 2008, officials are seeking a temporary order with a rate of 10.94 mills for people who live in unincorporated Gwinnett and 12 mills for people who live within city limits.

In a press release, officials said unincorporated residents, who make up 80 percent of the county's population, deserve a tax rollback of 1.06 mills because of insurance premium rates that go to fund county services.

The issue is expected to be decided by Superior Court Judge David E. Barrett of the Enotah Judicial Circuit, who is the judge hearing the service delivery dispute.

The temporary collection order being considered by Judge Hamil would only represent a temporary tax rate. Commissioners would still have to set a millage rate by the end of the year and, if needed, issue refunds or a second set of bills.

On Wednesday, Gwinnett Superior Court Judge Billy Ray will consider another temporary collection order for the cities of Suwanee, Buford and Duluth, who issue their own tax bills. The process has been held up in those cities because the county's tax digest has not been certified.