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Live in a city? You could get a county tax break
Agreement in the works to prevent double dipping on taxes
0621SERVICE
Hall County Commissioner Scott Gibbs, along with the rest of the Hall County Board of Commissioners and the Gainesville City Council, sign a 10-year service delivery agreement on Tuesday that will lower county tax rates for city residents.

If you live in a city in Hall County, your property tax bill could drop next year depending on what happens in in the next few days.

Working to avoid double taxing city residents, Hall County and its municipalities are this week voting on a service delivery agreement and differential tax rates for residents of Gainesville, Buford, Clermont, Flowery Branch, Gillsville, Lula and Oakwood.

Because the county government and city governments sometimes offer the same services — planning and zoning, engineering, road maintenance and code enforcement are the major examples — state law requires the governments to decide how to deliver those services without double dipping into taxpayers’ pockets.

Basically, if you’re paying taxes to Gainesville for road maintenance, Georgia law says it’s unfair that Hall County would also charge you for street maintenance that you won’t use.

Governments have to hammer out the agreements every 10 years or face financial sanctions from the state and carry other costs.

This latest round lowers the county’s general fund tax rate by different amounts depending on what services are used in cities. The tax rate is proposed as 6.95 mills for the upcoming fiscal year.

If the agreement is approved, residents of every city but Gainesville will pay a property tax of 6.501 mills to the county. Gainesville residents — who pay for more services directly through their city (fire protection and parks and recreation) — would pay 6.313 mills, according to the agreement.

“I think that maybe some of the cities in Hall County … perhaps will not sign off on this and come to an agreement,” Gainesville City Manager Bryan Lackey said. “It’s important for those property owners in those cities to know that even though the cities don’t officially sign off, they will still get the benefits … they will not be left out even though their city doesn’t sign off.”

The tax breaks last for nine years beginning in 2018, according to the proposed agreement.

The loss in revenue has already been figured into Hall County’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget, according to Finance Director Zachary Propes. Unincorporated residents of the county would pay the rate of 6.95 mills.

The 10-year agreement would be launched with a $1.6 million payment from the county to municipalities based on their property tax values. As the largest, most valuable community, Gainesville would receive the largest payment. The exact figures won’t be decided until later this year, according to Propes.

Leaders and staff of the county and municipalities have negotiated for months on the agreement, which must be approved by at least half of the cities involved in the agreement.

Gainesville and Hall County unanimously approved the agreement during a brief joint meeting on Tuesday.

“I know it’s been a lengthy process and a tiring process for all of the staff, but it’s good to see that we can come together and get this done without any hardships for our citizens,” said Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan before the vote.

Flowery Branch Mayor Mike Miller and City Manager Bill Andrew were present at the meeting. Flowery Branch approved the agreement last week, but a majority of the municipalities have yet to approve the agreement, which must be in place before the end of June.

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