Peachtree Corners approves a millage rate of zero

PEACHTREE CORNERS -- The city of Peachtree Corners approved a millage rate of zero during Tuesday's city council meeting.

Due to business licenses and licensing fees being higher than projected, the city was able to give the city's residents a gift just a year after it was born.

"It shows we're on the right track," Mayor Mike Mason said. "From a property tax standpoint it's cheaper to live in the city than in unincorporated Gwinnett County."

In unincorporated Gwinnett, the millage rate is .37 for property owners.

For Mason, having a zero millage rate is validation for the limited-services city.

"We have a few services we offer, like community development," he said. "Most people don't think that being a limited-services city means we could buy the property that we have, but it does. Community development has allowed us to improve our city, and we conduct other services like code enforcement and trash that is 100 percent our responsibility."

Mason said the city won't incorporate police and fire into the city, adding that Gwinnett County does an excellent job in those areas.

The City Council also adopted a budget for FY2014, with $3,820,800 in expenses.

The budget went through a public hearing at the June 16 city council meeting and had no changes between then and Tuesday's meeting.

The council also approved for the mayor and city manager to begin contract negotiations WastePro to provide residential sanitation services.

"Of the three responses to the RFP, WastePro stood out," councilwoman Jeanne Aulbach said. "Pricing wasn't the only thing we liked. We loved their customer service record and the fact that they offered recycling that offers potential rewards to customers to encourage recycling."

Mason said sanitation services can be a sensitive topic, but he saw an advantage if the city deviated from the county for this service.

"We saw that we could get it cheaper if we negotiated on our own," he said. "Most of our residents live close to each other as opposed to more rural areas in unincorporated Gwinnett. Because of that, residential units are closer together and haulers would have an easier time making their pickups."

When contract negotiations are complete, the mayor and city manager will come back to council to gain final approval on the contract, sharing what the savings are on sanitation services with the city as opposed to the county.