OUR VIEW: Tax rate decision prudent if not popular

Charlotte Nash chooses her words carefully, which is to be expected from the person in charge of the county’s government. So it should come as no surprise that the word “prudent” made the headlines earlier this week in regard to the Board of Commissioners’ decision to leave the county millage rate unchanged.

Though the millage rate will stay the same, the fact that property values have increased this year means that most Gwinnettians will pay more taxes. Some residents, and one commissioner, wanted the millage rate rolled back to offset the increase in property values, but the BOC chose by a vote of 4-1 to keep the rate at 13.75 mills.

In that regard, the BOC chose prudent over popular. Chairwoman Nash said it’s the responsible decision moving forward.

“We need to make sure we spend every penny the best way we can to try to make Gwinnett County as good a community as we possibly can, not just now — but five, 10 years in the future.”

Commissioner Tommy Hunter, the lone dissenting vote, does not agree but also did not elaborate after the decision. “I’m going to let my vote speak for itself,” he said.

He no doubt has many Gwinnett residents who agree with him, but Nash said the county needed to keep the rate steady to move forward after seeing a nearly 20 percent decline in the tax digest (the combined total value of all property in the county) over the past five years.

“There have been lots of changes in the budget — significant cutbacks in staffing, in the dollars we’re putting into many areas,” Nash said.

“There are some things that we’ve got to address and we can’t keep putting them off.”

Those comments are the very definition of the word “prudent” — defined as “acting with or showing care and thought for the future.” But as Nash and other government leaders know very well, that word is rarely confused with “popular.”

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