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Proposed tax increase at the forefront of town hall meeting

LAWRENCEVILLE - Still weeks before county commissioners will host official public hearings on a proposed tax increase, people can voice their opinions in a town hall meeting.

The event, scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, is the second sponsored by FreedomWorks and Gwinnett Citizens for responsible government.

The two groups successfully protested against a proposed millage rate increase earlier this year, and organizer Debbie Dooley said the group is against this second proposal, which comes when temporary tax bills are soon due.

The new proposal of a 2.28 mill increase would restore cuts to public safety, stave off the need for a 9 percent further cut to the courts and law enforcement and allow for more library hours, Chief Financial Officer Aaron Bovos said last week. Bovos is expected to give a presentation on the proposal at the town hall meeting, as well as public hearings set for Nov. 23 and Dec. 1.

"The Board of Commissioners needs to clearly and in detail define exactly what programs that will fund," Dooley said in a press release. "We also request a detailed accounting of what programs have been cut and the amount of the cut. Public Safety programs are essential to the safety of our citizens. There are other areas that are luxuries and not essential during this time of economic hardship."

Suggestions for costs savings and revenue enhancements can be sent to gwinnettbudgetcuts@gmail.com for discussion Tuesday.

Commission Chairman Charles Bannister, Sheriff Butch Conway and others are expected to attend.

"The Board of Commissioners, to their credit, has demonstrated that they will listen when the taxpayers speak loudly and en masse. We urge them to listen to alternative suggestions from the Gwinnett County tax payers before raising taxes by 2 mills," Dooley said.

"The fact is we have every right to ask these questions. Every member of the BOC ran their elections based on lower taxes and responsible spending. The seats belong to the tax payers. We are their employers and they are accountable to us."

SideBar: If You Go

· What: Town hall meeting hosted by FreedomWorks and Citizens for Responsible Government

· When: 7 p.m. Thursday

· Where: Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville