Under a proposed contract with Gwinnett County’s tax commissioner, the city of Sugar Hill would see a significant increase in the amount it pays for the county to collect the city’s taxes.
Alongside Sugar Hill, seven other Gwinnett cities are also being asked by Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Tiffany Porter to enter into a four-year contract that includes the new fee for tax collection. These cities include Berkeley Lake, Dacula, Grayson, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Peachtree Corners and Snellville. The remaining Gwinnett cities collect their own taxes.
The proposed contracts for 2021 include an increase of $3.80 per parcel, with $1.80 going to the county and $2 going to the tax commissioner. For the city of Sugar Hill, this would amount to a 171 percent increase compared to what the city paid in 2020 under a contract with a $1.40 fee per parcel. The city would go from paying $13,302.40 for tax collection to $35,986.
Porter, who was elected in 2020, called the $3.80 per parcel increase a reasonable starting place for cities to pay their fair share.
“To be clear, servicing the cities isn’t just printing some extra lines on a bill; it’s that plus creating individual calculations, databases, records, reports, plus audits and other special assessments and fees that are unique to each city,” Porter said.
Under the proposed contract, Porter’s salary would increase from about $140,000 to $250,000, making her the highest paid elected county official.
“I did not run or agree to be the tax commissioner for any city,” Porter said. “I question the morality of additional responsibility without additional compensation. I don’t mind being the first Gwinnett Tax Commissioner to stand up for extra pay for extra work. I’ve been doing firsts my whole life. I will endure the accusations and watch how it plays out — for myself and all who follow after me.”
Sugar Hill Mayor Steve Edwards said the city is evaluating Porter’s proposed contract.
“I don’t mind saying that her request was a surprise,” Edwards said. “If it truly costs more, with support documentation, we would pay more. Our plan is to continue to work this out through the county commissioners and the tax commissioner.”
A bill passed by the Georgia House and Senate recently would prevent tax commissioners from negotiating contracts with cities to increase their own salaries and instead places the responsibility for contract negotiations on county commissions. The bill requires Gov. Brian Kemp’s signature before it becomes a law.