The city of Sugar Hill has announced it will begin handling billing and collections for city property taxes and stormwater fees.
Billing and collection was previously handled by the Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner’s Office. Earlier this year, Tax Commissioner Tiffany Porter proposed a new contract with the city of Sugar Hill that would have significantly increased the amount the city paid for tax collection services.
The proposed contract for 2021 included 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 have amounted 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 have gone from paying $13,302.40 for tax collection to $35,986. The contract would have also included an additional negotiated amount to bill and collect Sugar Hill’s stormwater fees.
“As a city that had contracted with Gwinnett County for the billing and collection of city property taxes and stormwater fees for years, we were surprised and caught off-guard by the substantially increased cost proposed by the new tax commissioner,” said Paul Radford, Sugar Hill’s city manager. “We were willing to pay the actual cost of the service ($1.80 per parcel) but could not and cannot justify paying an additional $2.00 per parcel to personally compensate the tax commissioner.”
Radford said the cost for the city to bill and collect taxes and stormwater fees for the 2021 billing cycle is approximately $20,800. This includes one-time, start-up programming and supplies and mailing expenses. In subsequent years that amount is expected to drop to less than $15,000, including software licensing.
“We made this decision with our eyes wide open,” Radford said. “There will be a learning curve for our staff as well as city property owners who have been used to one bill, not two. We (meaning all the Gwinnett cities that have elected to bill our own city property taxes) feel confident we can handle this in a seamless and transparent fashion.”
Sugar Hill joins Buford, Duluth, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Norcross and Snellville as Gwinnett cities that collect their own taxes.