Bryan County Commissioners approved a $36 million budget Tuesday night for fiscal year 2018, up from the current $33 million.
The document calls for expenditures of nearly $35.5 million.
Commissioners also approved something new this year as part of the budget process by creating a special taxation district for the unincorporated portion of the county. This will ensure that taxes collected from residents who do not live in the cities of Pembroke or Richmond Hill will go toward paying for services the county only provides outside of those municipalities.
“It’s a way to make sure specific revenue goes to pay for specific services,” County Administrator Ben Taylor said. “It ensures tax equity between the people who live in the unincorporated part of the county and the people who live in the cities.”
Specific county services that will be paid for by the special taxing district, for example, include thing such as fire protection, solid waste collection, mosquito control and planning.
At the same time, the move ensures that taxes collected from residents living in Pembroke and Richmond Hill do not go toward paying for county services those residents do not receive. Fire protection and trash pickup, for example, are paid for by city residents through their respective city millage rates.
County taxes as a whole outside of the special district — essentially all other property taxes paid for by all county residents — will pay for services that are provided to everyone on a countywide basis. Those services include courts, EMS, elections, libraries and road maintenance.
Commissioners also approved a $160,000 expenditure from the current budget for employee bonuses. All full-time employees will get a one-time stipend of $500, while part-time employees will receive $250.
In other business, commissioners approved spending $994,000 on a road extension within the Interstate Commerce Centre in Black Creek and $116,000 to add two-foot shoulders to each side of Belfast River Road from Harris Trail to Belfast Keller Road.
The money spent on the road work at the North Bryan industrial park will be reimbursed to the county by the Development Authority of Bryan County through money raised from the sale of land within the park.