Dacula to charge for sanitation on county tax bill

DACULA -- City leaders voted Thursday to go ahead with plans to bill city property owners for garbage collection on their annual Gwinnett County property tax bills. "We've had two town hall meetings to discuss whether to (do this)," Mayor Jimmy Wilbanks said.

The city has heretofore billed residents of a property for garbage collection; under the new policy, property owners will be billed for solid waste collection and disposal. Landlords will, therefore, have to either absorb the cost of the service or pass it on to their tenants.

"Collection (of the billed fees) has been erratic the way we've been doing it," City Attorney Dennis Still said. The city pays about $300,000 a year to collect and dispose of solid waste. This year, staff expected to collect about $200,000 from residents and property owners. In reality, the city will only collect about $160,000 from billed customers. "The difference has to be made up somehow," said Wilbanks, adding that the cost difference will inevitably be passed on to paying customers. "Something has got to give."

With Thursday's action, property owners can expect a lien placed on their property if they fail to pay the annual garbage collection bill. However, Wilbanks said that under the previous policy, the city had the option of liening property with unpaid solid waste collection bills.

"What we are doing is not what Gwinnett County did," Councilman Hubert Wells said. "We are not doing anything but changing how the service is billed."

The new policy will go into effect Jan. 1.

City attorney hourly fee to be increased Jan. 1

Council members voted to increase the hourly fee paid to city attorney Dennis Still from $125/hour to $150/hour Thursday, based on research Still did that demonstrated a more competitive hourly rate of $150/hour throughout the county and state.

The increased rate will take effect Jan. 1. Still is subject to reappointment in early 2013.