November 1, 2011
A topic of great interest to all is taxes and franchise fees. The city charter allows the city to collect both. Together, they will make up the operating revenues for the city.
The most well-known tax a city assesses is the ad valorem tax on property. Section 1.12.a (27) of the city charter specifies the power to “levy and provide for the assessment, valuation, revaluation, and collection of taxes on all property subject to taxation subject to a maximum of 1 mill”. Property includes both real estate and motor vehicles. All Gwinnett County cities, except for Braselton and Rest Haven, collect taxes on motor vehicles.
The millage rates for the cities around us are: Norcross – 6.424; Duluth – 5.991; and Berkeley Lake – 5.386. Berkeley Lake just raised its rate in order to cover the costs of repairing the damage done to the lake by the 2009 flooding. These rates far exceed the maximum rate that will be charged by the city of Peachtree Corners.
As has been mentioned before, 1 mill translates to $40 annually per $100,000 of assessed value of property. Note that the charter states that the rate is limited to a maximum of 1 mill. The city council has the authority to set the millage rate up to the maximum. The city council also determines how taxes can be paid, either in a lump sum or installments and when the taxes are due.
What would happen if a service was approved by the voters that required more revenue than that collected at 1 mill? The charter would have to be revised by the state legislature. Just another check to ensure that the services provided and taxes collected are controlled by the citizens of Peachtree Corners themselves.
Section 1.12.a (21) governs public utilities and services. Franchise fees are charged by utility companies as part of the franchise agreement with a municipality. This agreement spells out how and where these utilities can use the public right of way. Each time you pay your cable, phone, electric or natural gas bill, you are paying a franchise fee as a part of that bill. For residents of unincorporated Gwinnett County, only the fees charged by the cable companies are returned to the county. All other fees collected are pooled by the utility and paid out to other municipalities. Going forward, these fees collected from Peachtree Corners will be paid directly to the city.
There is no difference between the fees charged for unincorporated versus incorporated areas of the county on your telephone and cable bills. So the only difference you may see on these bills may be a designation that it is a Peachtree Corners franchise fee. There may be a differential on your electric bill. There is a calculator available on line here http://www.psc.state.ga.us/calc/electric/GPcalc.asp. The unincorporated rate is currently 1.0801%. The rate for incorporated (inside the city limits) is 2.9109%. However, the rate increase would only take effect if the city enters into a Franchise Fee agreement with Georgia Power. So you could see a small increase in your electric bill.
The bottom line is there will be some costs to property owners and service consumers to provide city services. These costs may be partially offset by the savings on trash pickup. If the city initiative does not pass November 8th, there is a high probability that parts of Peachtree Corners will be annexed into neighboring cities. If you are annexed, the net cost will be much higher than what the cost will be if we incorporate.
Our next blog will be about the City Council. As always, please e-mail us at email@example.com if you have any questions about incorporation or suggestions for future blogs. You can also Follow Us On Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peachtree-Corners-Yes/188252451197937 and Follow Us On Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/PCCityYes. For more information about the city initiative, you can go to the Peachtree Corners web site http://peachtreecornersyes.com/. We also have two blog sites. One presents the facts about the city initiative http://peachtreecornersyes.blogspot.com/. The other rebuts the myths and misstatements made about incorporation http://peachtreecornersrealfacts.blogspot.com/.