LAWRENCEVILLE -- With the local real estate market "stabilizing," county officials remain on track to change millage rates this year, giving unincorporated residents a tax increase, while some city residents see their county taxes going down.
In about a month, the Board of Commissioners will adopt a new tax break-down, which aligns tax districts with services based on a settlement with local cities last year.
On Tuesday, commissioners learned that assumptions on the value of the county's tax digest made last year are essentially correct -- with the total value of residential and commercial property in Gwinnett dipping about 1.2 percent from 2012, instead of the 1.9 percent anticipated when leaders formulated this year's budget.
That means leaders will likely follow through on the new proposed structure and rates, which would give a total of about $38 increase for the average resident of unincorporated portions of the county and a $65 decrease for residents in cities with their own police force (and a drastic $234 decrease for residents of Loganville, which has its own fire service). Residents of cities that do not have a police or fire department would pay, on average, about $19 more in county taxes.
Those changes are in addition to the Gwinnett County Public Schools plan to increase its millage rate at a meeting Thursday. That proposal would add another $76, on average, to homeowners throughout Gwinnett.
"To some extent, when you adopt the budget, you've kind of already decided what the millage rate will be," Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said, adding that she was pleased that the county's tax digest expectations were met. "It looks like very little, if any, change to the bottom line."
While tax totals will change, Nash said the biggest change for property owners to notice is the new system, which breaks down the county's general fund to pull out development and enforcement costs, which no city resident will bear, and police services, which residents in cities with their own police force will no longer pay.
Notices of the change were sent along with the county's assessment notices in the spring, and officials are planning an informational session for residents to learn more on June 25.
"Their tax bill is going to look totally different than it ever has before," said Maria Woods, the county's finance director
Steve Pruitt, the county's chief assessor, this year's tax digest seems to show a leveling off in the county's real estate market, after drastic drops in home values beginning in 2009.
This year's values were only down 1.2 percent, compared to a more than 8 percent dip the year before.
"I think we're going to see it level off and then see it go back up in the near future," Pruitt said, adding that only 8,388 residential tax appeals were filed this year, half of what he expected. "We're kind of back in equilibrium now."