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County property taxes may be on the rise in 08
Three public hearings will be held in the coming weeks for residents to offer input
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 Editor's note: Three public hearings were scheduled on the proposed tax hike. The final one is Sept. 10 at 9 a.m. at the Bryan County Courthouse. Commissioners will set the millage rate at 9:30 a.m.


Bryan County’s taxes are tentatively set to rise again next year.

The Bryan County Board of Commissioners has said they may adopt a millage rate of 7.5 mills, up from 6.911 mills last year.

"We have some pressures on the budget that have to do with a lot of things," County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said. "The operational costs are rising and gas is a big factor, and the homestead exemptions have had a major impact on our budget."

Burnsed said the county knew when it originally instituted a homestead exemption of $30,000 for residents under the age of 65 and $50,000 for residents 65 and older, "it would affect the county for a few years."

"But at the time, when it started, the county was growing a lot faster than it is today," he said. "It does look like there will be a tax increase. We’ve cut in a lot of places, but there is just not enough. If there is an increase, it won’t be a lot."

If the new millage rate is 7.5, that will be a .589 increase over last year. So what does that mean?

"If you round it up, that’s 59 cents per $1,000 of assessed property values, which is 40 percent of your property’s appraised value," Chief Tax Assessor Dan Rollf said. "Then you also have to factor in the homestead exemptions, which are subtracted off of the assessed property values."

Here’s an example:

Let’s say your home costs $150,000. The assessed value, or 40 percent, would then be $60,000. If you don’t have any exemptions, you could figure out your county property tax by taking 7.5 and multiplying it by 60 (because it’s 7.5 per $1,000), which would total $450. That’s an increase of about $35 over your property taxes last year (using the 2007 millage rate of 6.911).

Rollf said if that 7.5 is accepted as the new millage rate for the unincorporated areas of Bryan County, an increase of about 59 cents will be seen countywide, including the incorporated areas of Richmond Hill and Pembroke.

Rollf said for the past few years, the county has been able to take a rollback millage rate – which is the rate that will produce the same total revenue on the current year’s digest that last year’s millage rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred.

"That happened because we’ve had such good new growth. Normally, it’s offset," Rollf said. "But last year, we went up to $134 million on homestead exemptions and this year, it’s about $139 million. The year before that, it was a whole lot less."

This year, the Board of Education has tentatively said it will take the rollback rate of 13.357 – a decrease of .035 of one mill. Last year’s rate was 13.572. Even with the roll back, the district should still generate about $50,000 in extra revenue.

The tentative county increase will raise taxes in the unincorporated area by 8.4 percent; the city of Pembroke by 7.75 percent; the city of Richmond Hill by 10.19 percent; the Jerico paving district by 3.07 percent; and the Belfast Pines paving district by 8.52 percent, according to a press release.

Burnsed said the county is going to have another meeting about the budget before anything is final, and there will be three public hearings for the community to express their thoughts on the issue.



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