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Turnout low at first millage informational session

LAWRENCEVILLE -- With this fall's county tax bills set to be dependent on where you live, Kathy New expects that to be a question she hears often as she sells houses in Gwinnett.

So New was one of a handful of people to come out Tuesday to hear commissioners' explanation for the new system, which divides the county into districts, allowing people in cities to receive county tax breaks on services that they already pay the city for, like the police department.

"It's going to balance out, I think," said New, who lives in unincorporated Lilburn. "But I wish unincorproated wasn't hit as much."

When commissioners set a series of millage rates next month, the levy is expected to bring a $38 increase for residents of a house valued at the average $157,000. Residents in cities without their own police forces will also see an increase of about $19, while those that live in a city with a police force will see a decline in the county portion of their bill by about $65. Residents of Loganville, which provides its own fire service, will see the biggest change, with a 33 percent decrease in the county levy, down $234.

"The look of the county tax bills will be different for 2013, and we've tried to get the word out," Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said of the court settlement that has the county dividing its general fund into five separate line items.

Officials fielded a question about senior exemptions to school taxes -- which are also expected to go up by about $76 on average countywide -- and solid waste. But no one gave an opinion on the new districts at Tuesday's session, the first of three informational meetings set to explain the new model.

Meetings will be held at 3:30 p.m. July 2, and at 6:30 p.m. July 9, both at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville, prior to the July 16 vote on the millage rates.