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Four cities allowed to issue property tax bills

LAWRENCEVILLE - Four Gwinnett cities will be able to issue tax bills on time, thanks to a judge's order Wednesday.

The cities of Duluth, Suwanee, Buford and Auburn asked Judge Billy Ray to issue a temporary tax collection order because the inability of Gwinnett commissioners to set a millage rate has caused a delay in the certification of the 2009 tax digest.

While Judge Timothy Hamil is considering another case to allow the county and school taxes to undergo a temporary collection, which would require a temporary millage rate to be set, the four cities that had a hearing before Ray on Wednesday only needed approval of the digest to move forward.

Ray ruled to allow the collection in less than 10 minutes, compared to a three-hour court maneuver Tuesday on the county's case, in which Hamil is expected to rule Friday.

Because the four send out their own tax bills, officials said the move would not delay the issuance. Duluth, Suwanee and Buford typically send out bills in September, while Auburn's bills go out in November.

"There will be no impact to our taxpayers," said Suwanee Mayor Dave Williams, who was the only mayor in attendance. "It's an administrative process. It's very straight-forward."

But Williams said he hated to have to go to court, pointing to a six-month old lawsuit with the county over service delivery that caused, in part, the millage rate issue.

"It's incredible we had to drag all the attorneys out to do this," he said.