Posted by: The Last Liberal Gwinnettian | May 21, 2009

If you own property in Gwinnett…RUN!

Gwinnett County has recently proposed a 25 to 30% hike on property taxes – which wouldn’t upset me in the least if the money was going to be spent on something useful (you know, like new schools to decrease school overcrowding, or wider roads to cut down on traffic, or any of a number of other things the county could actually use). But, of course, the money is going to be wasted.

Our county has a marked tendency to waste money.

Back in January 2008, the county announced a fully formed plan to spend over $30 million taxpayer dollars on the new Gwinnett Braves Stadium. Taxpayers did not get a say in this – there was no discussion, there was no vote, the plan sprang fully formed from the minds of Gwinnettian politicians. Supporters claimed that the stadium would revitalize the Buford/Lawrenceville area, bringing business to the Mall of Georgia and surrounding areas. Well, that’s great, but shouldn’t you have made that claim BEFORE you decided to spend the money? It’s a tad insulting that we (you know, those pesky people who vote for you and pay your salary) didn’t get to weigh the options and voice our opinions before you broke ground on a really, really expensive stadium. And, just to top it all off, county officials were screaming about how great this was going to be for our economy even though “economists almost unanimously agree such stadium deals are bad for taxpayers. A 2005 survey found 90 percent of economists agreeing that governments should not subsidize sports teams.”

In other words, the county decided to use taxpayer dollars to pay for a massive growth project that the residents were not given any say in.
Then, suddenly the economy began to flounder. Property values plummeted. Now the county has to cut back – they have already proposed $33 million in cuts (ironically, about the same amount of cash they plopped down on that stadium last year). Then add the fact that municipalities in Gwinnett have begun to complain about the fact that their residents pay county taxes but do not receive coverage from Gwinnett County Police. The result? Tax increases.

The next logical question is, what are these tax increases going to be used for?

That’s the really funny part: These tax increases (which will hit city residents harder than those in unincorporated areas) are going to be used to provide Gwinnett county Police coverage to municipalities that are not currently covered by the county police. Sounds reasonable, right? Wrong. 9 of Gwinnett’s 15 municipalities already have (and pay for) their own police forces. Most of the other municipalities have contracts with the Gwinnett Police for extra coverage. In other words, the county wants to raise taxes to provide police protection for areas that ALREADY HAVE POLICE PROTECTION.

In sum, a year ago, the county dropped $30 million without consulting the taxpayers. Now they want to hike property taxes by a whopping 30%. And the end result is simply going to be higher taxes for the basically the same services that we already have. Way to go, Gwinnett!

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