Board of Commissioners
"Tonight, I stand before you to request a rollback in the millage rate to a revenue neutral rate. Our residents don’t want or need our taxes to go up! The increase proposed will only cause additional stress on our residents hit hard by inflation.
The presentation we watched tonight emphasizes the Value Offset Exemption. What the average resident might not realize, is this is one big shell game to hide the truth. While the VOE does help the few who qualify, no business owner, no renter, nor commercial property owner’s benefit.
You must consider for a moment, that even those who qualify for the VOE will be impacted. When we go out to a restaurant, or get our car serviced, that business owner must roll those higher taxes onto the backs of their customer. The unfortunate truth is, no commissioner on this board has ever voted down a proposed tax increase. The truth is, every resident will feel the impact of this increase.
Recently this commission made affordable housing and solving homelessness a priority. In an interview just a month ago, Denise Townsend, regional director at the United Way, stated there is a direct correlation between the increase of rents and an increase in homelessness. The catch 22 is, as you vote tomorrow to increase our taxes, you in essence increase homelessness.
Make no mistake, for every commissioner who votes yes in the form it is currently proposed, it is a direct attack on every renter, every senior citizen, and every young family with kids in daycare. It is you saying you don’t care about the small businesses whose rents will immediately increase. It is you who are contradicting your own supposed concern for affordable housing.
While you focus on affordable housing and homelessness, we have a crisis brewing right under our noses. There are now fewer police officers on our streets then when I participated in Leadership Gwinnett in 2017. We have dwindled to having only half the officers we need, where our population would justify 1200+ officers.
This severe lack of focus on our public safety has everyone concerned. Anyone who has had to call 911 will have noticed longer wait times. Our firefighters are down to critical levels as well. Let’s help Chief McClure succeed by giving him back the Police pension program and all the resources needed to retain and attract officers to Gwinnett!
To summarize my comments, from everything I see, this county does not have a revenue problem, this board has a spending problem.
The Gwinnett Standard, the excellent standard of living we enjoy in Gwinnett, also applies to excellent financial stewardship. Show us that Gwinnett Standard by rolling back the millage rate even further and give the difference to our first responders. You have the chance to earn back the trust of our residents."
MY FIGHT AGAINST
Recently my opponent, Marlene Fosque, voted once again to raise property taxes. Only one (Kirkland Carden) voted to drop the rate to a revenue neutral rate. In just the last two years, Commissioner Fosque and the Board have raised our taxes by almost 25%.
Because home and business appraisals have gone up significantly in the last year, with the board voting 4-1 to maintain the same millage rate, it results in an average tax increase of 17%.
I had the chance to share my thoughts at the public hearing related to our property taxes. Below is a copy of my speech, and you can watch it here. (my comments start at 13:45)