Bryan County officials responded Monday to Richmond Hill's lawsuit in a press release.
Here's the press release.
the City of Richmond Hill’s recent filing of a lawsuit claiming the Aug. 14
millage-rate equalization was unjust, Bryan County officials are still amenable
to mediation and a continued open dialogue over the issues that led to the legal
“Our reasoning for the millage rate equalization is actually very simple and hard to dispute – we must correct an inequity that, if left unchecked, would mean some citizens pay more than others for countywide services. As an uneven payment system is not fair to all residents of our county, it only seems right to adopt a rate that ensures everyone contributes fairly to the funding source that covers countywide services,” Infinger said. “Property taxes exclusively pay for countywide services, such as the sheriff’s department, courts, the county road system, elections, emergency medical services, libraries, recreation, tax assessor, tax commissioner and more. We cannot change that. It's a hard fact: These services are provided to all citizens of the county and some are even established as countywide services by legislation or case law.”
The City of Richmond Hill, in negotiations earlier this year over the Service Delivery Strategy, claimed some of the services paid for by property taxes shouldn’t be categorized as countywide, such as roads and economic development. County officials and City of Pembroke agreed to participate in a mediation session over the Service Delivery Strategy (SDS), which local governments are required to have as mandated by the Official Code of Georgia.
Richmond Hill never agreed when it came time to make mediation arrangements and, eventually, terminated negotiations altogether. Bryan County leaders, however, are still willing to mediate, and do not believe a lawsuit is a cost- or time-efficient solution to this problem.
“We’re disappointed that Richmond Hill has declined to participate in mediation with Pembroke and Bryan County as provided by the SDS law,” Infinger said. “Despite our best efforts to resolve the SDS dispute fairly and quickly, we were met with dead ends at every turn. Instead, Richmond Hill has now filed a meritless lawsuit, which will result in the unnecessary expenditure of both County and City tax dollars on litigation.”
For more information about Bryan County, please visit www.bryancountyga.org.