The county government’s 2010 budget will be about $22.3 million. Its current budget is $23.5 million.
This year the property tax rate will increase from 5.112 mills to 5.374 mills.
For example, a home with a market value of $100,000 this year has a tax of $664. Next year the tax will go up to $851, an increase of $187.
However, only about $10 of that increase will come from the increased tax rate. About $177 of the increase will be because the state has cut the homestead tax relief grant.
“It’s like if your employer cuts your hours from 40 hours a week to 30 hours a week,” commissioner Dewayne Hill said. “You have no control over it.”
The approval came during the regularly scheduled Board of Commissioners meeting that followed the final public hearing concerning the budget and tax rate.
Commissioner Bobby Winters voted against the property tax increase, simply stating that the county didn’t “need it” and that he thought there was money elsewhere to offset the increase.
The board met some opposition and criticism on the property tax rate increase. A common theme with the opposition, which had been expressed during the previous public hearings, was the use of funds towards recreation and other projects, which many who spoke deemed unnecessary.
Commissioner Dewayne Hill said he was proud of projects such as the Keith gym, which was paid for with special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) funds.
Chief financial director Carl Henson said SPLOST funds can only be used for designated projects and “cannot be used to reduce operating costs.” This means funds used toward recreation projects cannot be used to offset the increase in the property tax rate.
“If you don’t use SPLOST, you lose it,” Hill said.
Chairman Keith Greene, along with Sheriff Phil Summers, said educating the county on how funds are directed and where the funds come from is important when there is an increase in taxes or a loss of a grant.
Henson said if the county were to not increase the tax rate, it would cost the county approximately $427,000. The loss of the homestead tax relief grant made for a loss of $600,000.