Porter, a Democrat elected in November, told the towns of Gwinnett earlier this year that she wanted an additional $ 2 per package to collect taxes on their behalf, an amount that would have increased her salary by $ 141,098 from $ 110,734 additional.
Many cities balked and decided to collect on their own. While others considered doing so, state lawmakers stepped in and passed legislation allowing tax collection agreements between cities and counties, thereby bypassing the tax commissioner.
Grayson made one of those deals. Three other cities decided to pay Porter his fees after noting that the law applied to tax collections, but not to charges for stormwater, solid waste or street lighting. Dacula and Peachtree Corners, who both charge a fee, will pay Porter $ 2 per package she has to collect for them. Berkeley Lake, which has no fees, will pay $ 1 per package. In total, the fees will increase Porter’s salary by more than $ 34,000.
In a letter attached to Grayson’s lawsuit and addressed to that town’s attorney, former Georgia Supreme Court chief justice Leah Ward Sears – who represents Porter – said the tax commissioner “will not perform not the tasks assigned to it âby the Grayson-Gwinnett Agreement. Neither Porter, nor his spokespersons nor a county spokesperson wanted to comment on the lawsuit.
The new law, which Gov. Brian Kemp signed in May, is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced, Sears wrote in the nine-page letter. In addition, she said, Porter was targeted by the General Assembly “for the purpose of expanding her functions, removing some of her official authority, denying her the freedom to contract and changing the method by which tax collectors and commissioners were paid for more than a year. century.”
The law applies to both Porter and the Fulton County Tax Commissioner, who has been collecting fees to increase his own salary for years. State lawmakers, who could not be reached for comment, previously said they intend to expand the legislation next year to apply elsewhere in Georgia.
In the lawsuit, Grayson said the city made a legal contract and needed Porter to carry out his duties. The city’s tax collection rate has already fallen from 65 cents per package to $ 1.80 per package, Wilkerson said, even before Porter’s personal charges.
In her letter, Sears said that as an elected official, Porter had no reason to honor a contract to which she was not a party. The existing deal would not compensate the tax commissioner “for her work or her worth,” Sears wrote.
“Neither the County of Gwinnett nor the Town of Grayson can tell Commissioner Porter what to do,” she wrote. “… Her work and her services have been sold by and among others, so that these others will reap the benefits and reap the fruits of her labors, without her having had any say in the matter.”
Sears went on to say that Porter “remains committed to serving all the citizens of Gwinnett County” and is prepared to collect taxes for Grayson as long as she is a party to the contract.
“What Grayson cannot do is subject Commissioner Porter to bondage and peonage terms,” ââshe wrote.
Wilkerson said she hoped the lawsuit was successful.
âI believe in this law,â she said. “I just want to see him respected.”