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Buford tax rate could drop, but taxes could rise for some

Buford Board of Commissioners

What: Setting tax rate for fiscal 2017-18

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: Buford City Hall, 2300 Buford Highway

A lower tax rate is proposed for Buford property owners, but for some, that won’t necessarily translate to lower taxes.

The Buford Board of Commissioners is looking to set its fiscal 2017-18 tax rate Monday at 12.8 mills, down from 12.85 mills, with 1 mill equal to $1 for each $1,000 of assessed values.

However, because of higher reassessments, some property owners could see a bigger tax bill. To get the city revenue-neutral, the tax rate would have to be 12.478 mills.

On the other hand, property owners who didn’t see values increase will see a slight drop in taxes.

“Hall County did a good bit of re-evaluating some of the commercial values,” commission Chairman Phillip Beard said Sunday. “There’s been virtually no re-evaluation in Gwinnett County on the residential side of things.”

Buford has 7,156 property owners, with Hall County accounting for about 22 percent of Buford’s total tax digest, City Manager Bryan Kerlin said.

Buford stretches into South Hall primarily by Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13 and McEver Road, with a busy commercial area along Lanier Islands Parkway/Ga. 347.

Also noteworthy is that taxes are raised strictly “for the schools, which is part of the overall city general fund budget,” Kerlin said, adding that the commission sets the school tax rate upon request of the Buford Board of Education.

Otherwise, the city “operates on fees generated by its general and enterprise operations,” Kerlin said.

Apart from higher values, the city is seeing rapid growth, including approval of 1,000 new subdivision lots with homes selling at an average price of more than $500,000, Beard said.

Buford is seeing “tremendous growth in our student population,” said Beard, who is also on the school board. “Our school budget has gone up several million dollars each year the last two or three years.

“We’re lucky we’re having this growth rather than having to discuss raising taxes.”