LAWRENCEVILLE -- As the saying goes, your wallet is safe; the Legislature is no longer in session.
This year's session of the Georgia General Assembly may have sounded good to taxpayers, especially the news that the so-called birthday tax on automobiles will end next year.
But local governments worry that coffers already ailing in a poor economy could be drained even further.
The impact, Gwinnett Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash, is hard to predict.
According to the legislation, which Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to sign, people will continue to pay the annual ad valorem tax until they buy a new car. At that time, they will pay a hefty one-time excise tax instead of the annual bill.
"We can tell you what we will lose from the shrinking base that will no longer take part in the ad valorem tax," she said, but the government is struggling to estimate revenues from the excise tax.
Plus, it is hard to predict how soon people will buy new cars.
"We still don't have a good feel for how fast vehicles come out of the digest," she said of the ad valorem taxes that bring in nearly $26 million to the government each year.
Sloan Roach, a spokeswoman for Gwinnett County Public Schools, said officials there believe the school system will break even in the first year or two of the change, which begins in March.
But they estimate the school system could lose a total accumulation of $100 million by the time a decade passes.
Both Nash and Roach noted that legislators pledged to keep the local governments whole in the process, but both said that is a promise they are unsure would be kept.
"It's not going to all happen at once, so that's a good thing," Nash said. "When you are making a big change with a big revenue source, it's good to have a chance to phase it in. (But) within a 10-year period, just about all of that will have disappeared."
County government officials were glad to see action on legislation to add penalties to metal thieves and on registeries for vacant and foreclosed properties, which did not interfere with a current Gwinnett registry.
Action by the legislature also saved Gwinnett for a number of regulations originally authored for Fulton County. The laws did not call the county by name but instead were limited to a certain size population, since Fulton was the largest in the state. But after the 2010 Census, Gwinnett met those population requirements and would have been subjected to the laws.
A proposed constitutional amendment placed on November ballots may have one of the biggest impacts on Gwinnett. GCPS officials lobbied against the bill, which would allow charter schools sanctioned by the state. But local school, Ivy Preparatory Academy, which lost its charter due to a Supreme Court ruling, could be saved by the passage.