LAWRENCEVILLE — Tax bills were set Tuesday, as commissioners approved a new millage rate system breaking out charges for specific services, which will mean higher bills for most homeowners.
The new system, which divides the county’s general fund into five separate line items, incorporates the provisions of a lawsuit settlement with local cities that ensures city residents will not pay the county for services they receive from their city government.
Because less people are paying for the county police force and fire department, the total millage rate is higher for about 75 percent of residents, including all of those who live in unincorporated Gwinnett and residents who live in seven cities.
“We don’t take this kind of action lightly,” Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said, after a public vote.
“County staff has worked hard over the years to hold the cost of services down, but the creation of service districts and the need to maintain public safety services necessitated an increase for some taxpayers this year,” she said in a press release. “Even as the economy recovers, we will continue to look for ways to further reduce expenses and find more efficient ways to operate.”
For the owner of the average home valued at $157,000, residents of unincorporated Gwinnett will see their tax bills rise by about $38, while those who live in Auburn, Braselton, Duluth, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Norcross, Snellville and Suwanee (which have their own police forces) will see a decrease of about $65.
While residents in any local city will have a break on the county portion of the development and enforcement district, residents in Loganville will see the most dramatic difference of about $234, since that city funds its own police and fire departments.
The total millage rate — which applies to every $1,000 of assessed taxable value — was set at 13.75, up 0.73 mils compared to 2012’s total.
The changes are in addition to an increase in the tax levy from Gwinnett County Public Schools, which will mean an average $76 increase to all those who pay county school taxes.
Because of the dramatic difference, officials held several public informational meetings, but turnout was low.
“I think we have made a very good effort to make the information available,” Nash said, adding that information is available on the county website.
Tax bills are on track to be mailed in early August, with an expected due date of Oct. 3.