by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. —
The Gwinnett County Commissioners has approved a budget that will increase property taxes for most homeowners.
Channel 2 Action News was there Thursday afternoon as commissioners passed the billion dollar budget unanimously. Lawmakers said reaching that point wasn't easy.
"This has been the most difficult budget I have ever dealt with,” Commission Chair Charlotte Nash told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh.
Nash said a struggling economy combined with a new public service agreement with Gwinnett's incorporated cities means a lot less revenue.
Because of a lawsuit that Gwinnett is facing, the county can no longer charge homeowners in many incorporated cities for police and in some cases, fire services. Most of those cities have their own police departments.
Soon, homeowners in unincorporated Gwinnett will feel of bit of that budget pain.
The budget calls for all homeowners in unincorporated Gwinnett to pay close to $40 more a year on the average Gwinnett County home, which is worth $160,000. However, homeowners in most incorporated cities will pay less.
Gwinnett County's public libraries will also take a $1 million hit. The commission is suggesting the library board spend less on materials.
"Once you are able to restore funding, then you're able to catch up on the materials,” Nash said.
The county was able to avoid any layoffs in the 2013 budget. But county employees will go without a raise for the fifth straight year. That includes police officers and firefighters.
"They have been without raises for a very long time. As soon as we are in a position to be able to afford that, it is going to be one of our top priorities," Nash said.