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The Gwinnett County Board of Education held its first of three public hearings on Gwinnett County Public Schools’ proposed 2019 millage rate Tuesday night, but no residents showed up to speak at the meeting.

The Gwinnett County Board of Education gathered Tuesday night to hear public input on the county school district’s slightly lower proposed millage rate, but that input never came.

Gwinnett County Public Schools is proposing a 19.7-mill maintenance and operation millage rate — which is the rate used to determine how much money a property owner owes the district in property taxes — and a 1.9-mill debt service millage rate.

The proposed rate is slightly lower than the 19.8-mill maintenance and operation rate and the 1.95 debt service millage rate from 2018, but it’s still higher than the 18.434-mill rollback operations rate so three public hearings were scheduled to gather public input.

“We still had to hold the public hearings because it’s above the rollback rate,” GCPS Chief Financial Officer Joe Heffron said.

The only people in the audience at the first of those hearings, however, were a handful of district staff, including Heffron, who made the millage rate presentation to the board.

The school board will hold two more public hearings on the proposed millage rate, both of which will be held July 9 at the J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center, which is located at 437 Old Peachtree Road NW in Suwanee.

The first of those hearings will be held at 11:45 a.m. and the second one will be held at 6 p.m.

Heffron said that while the millage rate is not decreasing all the way to its rollback rate — the rate which keeps revenues down to about the level they were in 2018 — some savings can be expected from the proposed rate.

“On the debt service side, for $50,000 of value in your home, you’ll see a dollar in savings for the current year, and for about every $50,000 in home value, you’ll see about a $2 decrease with the proposed lowering of the (maintenance and operations) millage rate,” he said.

School board members said they were happy to see some savings for taxpayers, even it was not a large savings.

“I think the clear message is we’re being fiscally responsible and staying true to our vision and mission, and yet making sure that we’re being proper fiduciaries with the resources that are entrusted to us,” District 2 board member Steve Knudsen said.

District 5 board member Louise Radloff said that while the cumulative savings that a property owner may see might seem small, it can be significant to residents who have more limited incomes than others. Radloff’s district includes the southwestern part of the county, where she said the savings might mean more to property owners.

“Even though the return of $1 to $5, $10 to $12 (might seem) insignificant, if you live in the district where I represent where poverty is very consistent — it may not seem like much to the average person, but it is to those citizens,” Radloff said.

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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