Lilburn officials set millage rate

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

LILBURN -- Business owners, not homeowners, will make up for lost revenue in the city of Lilburn, officials said.

Because of delays to the county tax digest due to a large number of appeals, the City Council held an early morning special session Monday to adopt the 4.26-mills property tax rate, which is the same as in previous years, City Manager Bill Johnsa said.

While Johnsa said the city has operated "very lean," the city budget takes into account a possible 9 to 10 percent decline in property tax revenues due to dropping property values. But Johnsa said the city was pleased to find the drop closer to 7 percent.

Instead of exploring a tax increase or cutting services, an exploratory committee recommended a change in the city's antiquated occupational tax rate.

The occupational tax, which is more commonly known as business licenses, had been based in the past on the number of employees. Johnsa said that left one big box retailer only paying $4,000 a year to the city.

But officials now base the rate on the business's gross receipts.

"Our class rates are still below Gwinnett County's, but they are competitive with our sister cities," Johnsa said, adding that the old formula generated about $120,000, while this year the city expects up to $360,000.

Officials also began charging $10 a month for sanitation services, which had previously been paid for out of the city's general fund. Johnsa said the fee, which will be collected as a $120 on tax bills, covers about 60 to 65 percent of service costs.

Also at Monday's meeting, the City Council approved a $2.5 million loan to the Downtown Development Authority for several redevelopment projects, including the proposed creation of a Big League Dreams park. The loan is to be repaid in 180 days.