Tax bills could go to courts
Judge can set millage rate to start collections

LAWRENCEVILLE - Two separate court filings Wednesday could soon begin the process of issuing tax bills.

Gwinnett County officials filed a petition for the temporary collection of taxes, after a delay to the setting of the millage rate in the wake of a lawsuit over services left school officials concerned about meeting payroll in the coming months.

"We are pleased that our county leaders are working on a solution and process to get the tax bills out," Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said. "This is much appreciated by the school district and others who need and rely on those funds."

The case, where a judge could set a temporary millage levy and tax base to begin collections and allow officials to issue refunds or a second set of bills when the final rate is set, was assigned to Gwinnett Superior Court Judge Timothy Hamil. A staffer in Hamil's office said the judge is out of town and would return Monday.

Gwinnett's tax commissioner bills for the county government as well as the county school system and seven cities - Berkeley Lake, Dacula, Grayson, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Snellville and Sugar Hill.

Meanwhile, three local cities that post their own tax bills filed their own petition to have the tax digest certified and allow bills to go out.

That case, filed by officials from Suwanee, Duluth and Buford, was assigned to Judge Billy Ray, and a hearing was set for Aug. 12.

"We think it's very good the tax bills will go out in time ... providing the tax scheme is fair," said Suwanee Mayor Dave Williams, who has lead the court battle with the county over service.

In May, county officials proposed a millage rate levy that would have forced city residents to pay a higher county tax rate than people who live in unincorporated Gwinnett. The proposal, which also included a 25 to 30 percent millage rate increase, was defeated in June, but another millage rate has not been proposed.