Due date for second property tax bill looms

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Usually, the spring's biggest tax headache is the April 15 federal and state income tax deadline.

But this May 15, Gwinnettians have another tax day to mark on their calendar.

This weekend, the county's second 2009 property tax billing is due, after commissioners voted last December to raise taxes by 2.28 mills after a temporary set of bills had already been paid.

Because the due date is on a Saturday, property owners have until Monday to pay at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center or postmark their payment.

While the bills average $160 for a $200,000 house, they will bring in about $54 million for the county general fund and another nearly $6 million for bond debts and the recreation fund.

None of the money has been programmed, said Finance Director Aaron Bovos.

Earlier this year, Bovos told a citizens committee studying the county's financial situation he would recommend the money be used for unfunded liabilities, such as retirement benefits and medical benefits for retirees.

But in the Engage Gwinnett report, the citizens group asked that the money be set aside in case a drastic turn in property values meant that officials would have to either increase taxes or severely cut services.

"It might get us through the biggest part of this period," committee member Keith Shewbert said. "Now's the time to take that money we have in the bank ... and set it aside to keep from having to raise taxes."

Bovos said finance officials are working on a proposed plan for the money and would likely have it ready in mid-June, in time for commissioners to consider its typical mid-year reconciliation of the government budget.