0

Commissioners approve budget tied to tax increase

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Most Gwinnett taxpayers are likely to see their tax bills increase in 2013, after commissioners Thursday approved a new spending plan linking services to districts.

The $1.3 billion 2013 budget is actually about 8 percent lower than 2012, but operating expenses are up slightly. And because not all government costs will no longer be borne by all county residents, the average resident of unincorporated areas is expected to see a $40 tax increase, when millage rates are set in the summer.

Commissioners had little to add to Chairwoman Charlotte Nash's assessment of the situation, which balances spending with another expected dip in the county's tax digest but could not account for the new service districts imposed as part of a settlement with local cities over a service delivery lawsuit.

While minor changes will also be seen in the funding of development and enforcement, where all city residents will no longer pay for the county service directed only to unincorporated areas, the biggest hit comes in the area of police protection.

There, 20 percent fewer residents will pay for the service, but Nash said there was little ability to cut the county police force, since the department has not patrolled the nine cities with their own forces in years.

"The changes in services have more to do with the special units, the crime scene unit and those things," Nash said. "There really wasn't much we could do and still maintain what we needed to do as far as police services."

Commissioners did trim $98,000 by taking out a proposed two additional approaches to the red-light camera program. Nash said she hoped to gather more information to look into the expansion to the system, which has reduced T-bone crashes at other locations.

The spending plan also cuts the subsidy to the library system by another $1 million, with Nash recommending the system direct the cut to its materials budget, making it more in line with other systems. The proposal had brought pleas from the public to maintain the subsidy.

"It's economic reality," she said, adding that she sees the value in a public library system, since her daughter is a librarian. "But what does the model of the library of the future need to be?"

Commissioner Lynette Howard suggested the commission continue to release a portion of the subsidy in quarterly installments, taking a close look after public outrage over a cut in hours at local branches.

"Our libraries need to be community centers. The citizens paid for those books and they should have access to them," she said. "We need to figure out how to have world-class libraries with the funding we are giving them."

After dealing with the projected downturn in the county's tax digest, legislative changes and the formation of Peachtree Corners, there was no room for raises to employees -- a priority Nash hopes to get to as soon as the economy turns around -- or add a planned fire station near Georgia Gwinnett College.

Among the few increases was funding for a lead investigator in the district attorney's office, which DA Danny Porter requested to help look into an increasing amount of government corruption complaints after the two commissioners were implicated in federal and local investigations.

After spending decades dealing with the government's spending plan as a staffer, Nash still describes this plan as the most difficult.

She said the impact to taxpayers could have been much greater, if city leaders had not been willing to negotiate a settlement after a judge's ruling could have raised taxes by as much as 3.5 mills, compared to the 0.73 mill increase projected for taxpayers in unincorporated areas. Paired with a cut in the recreation rate from 1 to 0.95, the total is expected to reach to 13.75 mills. That would cost owners of the average $160,000 home in unincorporated Gwinnett just under $40 more each year.

"I'm pleased we were able to get it down to less than $40," Nash said.

Comments

CD 1 year, 3 months ago

Now explain the budget number in the context of a 500k subsidy to the chamber. The subsidy should be cut number one. If the GCCC cannot fund their own operations by now, then they need to go the way of Solyndra. The taxpayer has put enough into that dog.

3

R 1 year, 3 months ago

Its a Billion Plus budget, 500 K is a drop in the bucket - noise floor not a concern... (Sarcasm off)

0

CD 1 year, 3 months ago

And 1/3 of that is TRASH. Taxpayer screwed again (double entendre very much intended).

2

JHogan 1 year, 3 months ago

I'm saddened that the Gwinnett County commission couldn't see fit to finance the library with what amounts to about 10 cents per citizen per month. (850,000x.10x12=1,020,000. A dime a month.

0

LoganvilleResident 1 year, 3 months ago

Gwinnett County Government needs to make sure the basics (police, fire, roads, etc) are properly funded. Once that funding is in place, if there is some left over for quality of life improvements (parks, libraries), give them the money.

However, the bottom line is that Gwinnett faces a declining tax base and has for several years now. Cuts have to be made. Given a choice between funding for the library or public safety, I'm choosing funding public safety at full levels.

Middle class familes, like mine, can not keep enduring tax increases for items which are not "must haves." I don't care if it is a dime per citizen per month. Something had to be cut.

0

fireman 1 year, 3 months ago

Well, no raises for employees...so don't blame us. I know raises are a sensitive subject with so many out of work...but I chose this job with lower wages versus a private industry job...I know it was my choice.

Hundreds of us have dedicated our lives to protect the lives and property of the citizens. Unfortunately...it's becoming even less attractive to stay here. We're losing some great firefighters and police officers to Atlanta and Cobb that start off making more and are getting raises.

1

gwinnettresident1 1 year, 3 months ago

You are so right. I also work for the county and this year will be number 6 with not one cent raise. The people doing the exact same job i am doing in Cobb county get a three precent raise this year. I took the job your right. Gwinnett needs to find raises for the employees. They pay thousands to get new employees onboard and within months a good precentage leave because of pay...Try not spending 10 thousand on a new hire just to be gone in months and pay the employees you have and try to keep them

1

dentaldawg83 1 year, 3 months ago

hey, you two ..I'm self employed and my income has declined for 5 yrs in a row while local, state, and now federal taxes have gone up. Maybe if the admin payroll costs for our county wasn't so high you guys could have gotten a few pennies. This is the New Normal so get used to it.

0

Jan 1 year, 3 months ago

If your federal income taxes went up, then you are making at least 4 times as much as the two you are criticizing (at least 8 times the average household income of Georgia). Are they really supposed to feel sorry for you?

0

fireman 1 year, 3 months ago

Well, if you're comfortable with increasing numbers of experienced police officers and firefighters leaving and being replaced with NO experience, and many being the new "I'm going to do as little as possible/ it's easier to quit doing something hard than push through and make it happen" generation...then so be it. I'm NOT happy with the lowest qualified people protecting MY family or watching MY back!!!

Also, there's some general private versus government differences. I have made "government wages" my entire career, by my choice of course I avoided the private work place in exchange for hopefully better benefits and job security and lower wages.

Well, the better benefits have been taken away from us, but I still have a job (very thankful).

0

pcjohn 1 year, 3 months ago

Dentaldawg, if you are one of those overpaid prima donnas they call dentists then I have no pity for your taxes. You thieves should try living on the average salary and then try to afford the outrageous fees you charge for your "services". Many of my friends are senior citizens who are losing their teeth because you charge so much that they no longer can afford even the copays that are required by your cartel.

1

HonestIngine 1 year, 3 months ago

Why can't the library charge for their services? I'm sure most users can afford a $10 annual license fee, just like a fishing license....

0

kdeuser 1 year, 3 months ago

Good point. This is how the Federal Govt funds many services. $10 a year is cheap for a babysitter.

0

ssisk78 1 year, 3 months ago

This is what happens when you live in a county of thiefs and liars. They need to cut services, especally all the gwinnet police who seem to have nothing to due but hurass there citizens. Cut a quarter of the police force immidently.

1

Dubbin 1 year, 3 months ago

You could lay off at least 1/3 of support staff and use technology like the private sector to cut costs. Savings could be used to keep taxes constant and raise the salaries of truly essential personnel (cops, fire fighters, teachers). Every time I've ever been in a county office they have been polite but have a lot of people not doing much.

0

Dickens 1 year, 3 months ago

The library should charge for their services. Doesn't a museum charge?, the zoo? the theatre? Instead you can come from any county and use the computers for free and if you are a Gwinnett resident you are left waiting sometimes 20-30 minutes to use the computer. Instead of having a in-doors used book sale they only sell books on the internet. Even these days, people like to see the book and possibly flip through the pages before buying it.
Most people just come to the library to use the computers. Why even bother the librarians when they almost always show a disinterested, impolite demeanor. Please, not another dime for the libraries.

1

kevin 1 year, 3 months ago

1) Why did the county agree to provide police protection to cities without being able to charge them for those "extra" cops Gwinnett has to hire and pay for?

2) Quote:"After spending decades dealing with the government's spending plan as a staffer, Nash still describes this plan as the most difficult." Evidently Nash isn't capable of making cuts but finds it much easier to get the whole BOC to vote for more money from the taxpayer. Just like a bunch of Liberals.

3)Every hear about a "temporary" layoff until things get better all you BOC? Don't tell me they won't be rehired because the they will come back. The taxpayer gets the break from this action instead of the politicians. I guess that is why Nash can't handle this job.

0

Why_not 1 year, 3 months ago

The county has not provided police protection to cities with their own police departments for many years. Inform yourself.......

1

rco1847 1 year, 3 months ago

Well there you go - they're trying to shove another tax down out throats. This commission also approved the EZ Pass lanes so we could pay for the same road twice. How dumb are our voters. Gwinnett is run by the Republican aristocracy whiich includes the Chamber of Communists and the County School Board. The voters just re-elcted Charlotte Nash and I knew what she would eventually do. If this is conservative government I'm Jesus Christ.

0

pcjohn 1 year, 3 months ago

Dear Jesus - I couldn't agree with you more!

0

Dubbin 1 year, 3 months ago

The EZ Pass lanes were done by the Federal Government. Just saying.

0

R 1 year, 3 months ago

At OUR State's request ...

Still can't figure out why if Mayor Reed just couldn't WAIT for the income - why these suckers weren't installed closer in ...

0

Sonoma 1 year, 3 months ago

Please not another dime for the libraries. Print books sales fell over 9 percent in 2012. People are reading less. A number of magazines and newspapers have ceased publication because everything can be found over the internet. Even Barnes and Noble was disappointed in their Nook sales. First and foremost any monies should be spent on police and fire protection.

0

JHogan 1 year, 3 months ago

If you think that all the content you see on the internet will always be there, then I really feel sorry for you.

When the one of the wealthiest men in America (Warren Buffet) buys up parts of the information network and tells others, who have failed--as you note--that 'they can't make it by giving away their product,' I think we should listen to what he says. He obviously knows how to play the game.

Already many publications have disappeared behind a pay wall; newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and soon the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. Even the local paper, the AJC, is moving behind a pay wall. Others will follow,because the inevidible gravity of for-profit journalism will dictate it.

One day, in the not too distant future, people will look back on this time as the "golden era" of information, when almost anyone could access anything. It's dying, and it saddens me greatly.

In 10 years, the "dead tree" editions of local papers will be back in vogue.

0

tjsully 1 year, 3 months ago

So how did the new commissioners vote? Didn't Tommy say he was going to run things like his family did at home? You can't increase your salary so when money gets tight ya give up cable etc. Well what did y'all agree to go without?

1

BufordGuy 1 year, 3 months ago

He did vote for the budget. All of them did. I don't see they had a choice after what the courts did to them, though---unless they fired police officers. The settlement with the cities put us all in a hole with public safety. Let's watch and see if and how they can figure out how to keep the budget from causing a tax increase when the millage rate comes up this summer.

0

bgwinnett1 1 year, 3 months ago

Tommy, I mean "Buford Guy." I can't believe you are on here posting as if we all do not know it is you. You campaigned on a platform of cutting the budget and making the County shrink its budget like "my own household" and to do "without all the things we want." Now, your 1st day in office and you already reverse course. I had heard your work ethic was not exactly off the charts but can't you take the time to at least research the budget and as you said "make the necessary difficult choices."

0

pcjohn 1 year, 3 months ago

You're WRONG! He did have a choice. No one held a gun to his head but he decided to "go along" just like his predecessor always did. BOC members in Gwinnett are worthless and totally interchangeable. Nothing ever changes and corruption will reign forever until we get a new DA who can do something.

1

R 1 year, 3 months ago

Hiding behind "the Courts made us do it" has just met the END.

Time to govern boys and girls, STOP hiding behind CIVIL actions that allow government to do things not allowed by its own normal operations procedures / regulations.

1

bgwinnett1 1 year, 3 months ago

Hunter campaigned on cutting the budget and taxes and then virtually his 1st vote is for increasing both. I did not agree with everything Budrow voted on but at least I could count on him to be the 1 fighting to cut the budget and opposing tax increases. Ugh

1

R 1 year, 3 months ago

In reality, Budrow as you referred to him, called for MORE fees and pitched a sales tax increase - how quickly some forget.

0

bgwinnett1 1 year, 3 months ago

actually R, Why don't you provide some specifics about "more fees" because I certainly don't recall any. If you would have done even a minute of research, what HE proposed was a LOST, which BY LAW, has to be revenue neutral. Every penny that would have been collected BY LAW, has to offset property taxes. Thereby, it's a modest start at shifting the burden of local gov't from property tax dependency and instead provides property tax relief. Gwinnett is just about the only county in GA that does not use a LOST. And by the way, it has to be approved by Voters in an election anyways so I guess you are also against the public having a chance to way in.

0

R 1 year, 3 months ago

So it’s NOT a tax on REAL residents of GWINNETT? What they all go out of county to shop?

I've done my research BTW , any supposed real relief LAGS by what a year or MORE?

It was proposed at a time that the TSPLOST was already in play and NOT yet resolved?

Fees …
I think the TRASH PROGRAM qualifies because we were all told it WASN’T a tax – even though it’s on your tax bill…

Paid a full YEAR in advance, but to be fair, that is better than 18 months up front.

That has to be a FEE or a TAX as it can’t be “neither” because, as hard as it seems some are trying, we aren’t DC just yet. Please get your recall fixed.

1

R 1 year, 3 months ago

As to letting the public weigh in – I’m ALL for that and believe when they do, it SHOULD be followed where legally possible.

I’m just NOT for consideration of increasing funding “avenues” to be spent any way some wish until we manage to stay out of courts as a final phase in budgeting / vendor selection for a year or 2.

We should also have issues of the continuation of tax derived support of private organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce by so MANY branches of our local government ( Because they have PRIVATE membership to draw on for funding) at a time when taxes “must be raised” to provide the basic services.

1

jimmykathy91 1 year, 3 months ago

Now that I am longer in the library system, I can speak freely as before I had to watch what I said and made comments on. Dickens, you are right above and once again on your previous comments. On December 4, 2012, I was terminated from GCPL and the Suwanee branch because I had requested a transfer to escape the continued intimidation, bullying and heavy handiness on the part of management within that branch to re write my goals for coming years, and my supposed dissatisfaction with the system as a whole. I was not dissatisfied with the system just that particular branch at Suwanee. Management always staying in their offices, playing favorites with those associates who had a personal relationship with that good ole girl network that exists at HQ. Also, management being able to make an adequate work schedule without making so many errors. My schedule, during the four years that I was employed, was wrong about 150 times.

As an associate, I was able to wave $10.00 in fines depending on the cirucmstances. Customers need to own up to their responsibilities and pay their fines no matter how small or large they are. Libraries, particularly Suwanee, should not be a baby sitting service for those parents who want to be away from the children because the children are getting on their nerves. While at the location, my displays were always criticized by management and other staff members because I use materials from other locations once the branch's supply of related materials had been exhausted. My displays were colorful, eye catching and were popular with the customers. Also, when I sent my email requesting the transfer, I listed specific people and reasons for the transfer which commented on the favoritism and the interpersonal relationships with upper management. You people at Swuanee branch know that I am telling the truth. My appraisal in September 2012 was good and I had finally beaten the rap of being accused of not being a team player. While at the locatiion, I did more than my fair share of the shelving and worked more of a percentage time on the help desk. Management always stayed in the offices during hours and the courses that I was required to take in playbook for team building were a waste of time since I had been working employee ever since I was 17 and I just turned 56 in 2012.

LSAs need to be let go and the full time staff need to bust their rear ends to get the books shelved. Associates need to be told to stay out of each other's library accounts and the code of ethics that the library holds so dear was violated in more ways than I can count when it came to giving justifications and excuses for concerns that I brought to the attention of management.

As of now, I have won my right to unemployment while still working another job. The separation notice stated extreme dissatisfaction with the system. In no way is that true, just the particular branch.

0

Don 1 year, 3 months ago

Can we get Wayne Hill back inb office. What when he left we had a 30 million surplus as a cushion.

How is Cobb County doing the raises and budget cuts as their tax base is down as well. Maybe Charlotte should get her Nash over there to see what is up.

Maybe is is all the poor land deals we have paid for the Gwinnett Braves Stadium, the trash lawsuits and the other mismanagment that has taken place.

1

CD 1 year, 3 months ago

The irony: As our merry band of Gormandizing Gestapo commissioners votes on a budget, ole Kevin "The Smarm" Kenerly has his appeal denied. Gotta love it.

0

InTheKno 1 year, 3 months ago

Cobb County had a surplus and gave their employees a pay raise because their commissioners had the guts to roll up the millage rate when the tax digest went down. In Gwinnett, we have done so much with so little now we are expected to do everything with nothing.

0

Sign in to comment