Bryan County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jimmy Burnsed hesitated to use the word “compromise” Tuesday night after commissioners approved a smaller-than-proposed tax increase by a 3-2 vote.
Instead, Burnsed called the 1.25 mill hike, coupled with a $25 addition to the county’s $120 annual fire fee, the result of a consensus among commissioners that everyone should be impacted.
Initially, the county proposed a 1.5 mill raise with no fire fee increase to cover a projected $1.6 million shortfall in the 2014 budget.
Burnsed — who called the vote one of the toughest the commission has made in his more than eight years on the board — said the input from the board’s four public hearings made a difference.
“We heard the citizens in the public hearings, and they said, ‘There are some citizens who will not be impacted by a tax increase,’ and we want to make sure that everybody’s paying their fair share,” he said. “That $25 increase in the fire fee affects the whole and that means that everybody will have paid a little bit of money.”
Commissioners Steve Myers, Carter Infinger and Noah Covington each voted in favor of the increase, which will go toward road projects, 911 equipment, squad cars for the sheriff’s department, a planned interchange at I-95, a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for county employees and to help replenish the county’s dwindling reserves.
The millage rate increased from 7.9 — second lowest in the area — to 9.15, which remains lower than the rate in Bulloch, Chatham, Camden, Liberty McIntosh and Long counties.
Read full story in Aug. 17 issue of the Bryan County News.