SPLOST, economy helps with Gwinnett's 2014 spending plan, Nash says

LAWRENCEVILLE — A year after preparing her most difficult budget ever in decades of public service, Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash says the 2014 proposal was not as tight.

Next year’s spending plan has some added revenues — thanks not only to an expected turn in the economy as well as a recent vote to allow the government to continue a one percent sales tax — said Nash, who is expected to announce her proposal for the 2014 budget Tuesday.

“It … appears that the 2013 tax digest represents the bottom of the drop in overall property tax values in Gwinnett,” Nash said Friday, announcing that her proposed budget anticipates maintaining the county’s millage rates next year. “We are anticipating slight growth in the tax digest for 2014 as values of existing properties have stabilized and new construction is being added to the digest.”

The sales tax vote, which will allow the tax to continue past its current March 31 expiration, allows the county to fund equipment like ambulances and fire trucks as well as road resurfacing without dipping into property tax funds.

“Balancing the proposed 2014 budget without SPLOST funds would have been difficult,” Nash said. “No doubt, we would have had to defer replacement of public safety vehicles, as well as some roadwork. I want to say ‘thank you’ to Gwinnett voters who saw the value in having SPLOST funding and voted for its renewal.”

But Nash noted that the money will not cover all of the requests made by county staffers and officials during budget presentations in September.

“Almost all of these were legitimate ideas and needs for which good justification was provided,” Nash said, adding that residents chosen for a Citizens Review Team worked hard to prioritize the requests. “To hold the line on property tax rates, the proposed budget includes funding for only a relatively small portion of the requests.”

Specifics on those projects will be released Tuesday, with commissioners expected to vote on the proposed spending plan in January.