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County rolls back millage, talks ambulance service
Bryan County seal 2016

Setting the 2018 millage rate, concerns about the adequateness of emergency services in the county and reappointments to the development authority topped the agenda items at Tuesday's Bryan County Commission meeting in Pembroke.

Commissioners set the millage rate for next year at 9.016 mills for unincorporated Bryan County, 9.08 mills for the city of Pembroke and 7.99 mills for Richmond Hill.

The adopted millage rates are a "rollback" from current millage rates of 9.15 for unincorporated Bryan County, 8.03 for Richmond Hill and 9.08 for Pembroke, meaning residents should not see an increase in their yearly county taxes.

If the county had kept the same rates as last year, it would have meant a "back-door" tax increase, according to County Administrator Ben Taylor.

Taylor said inflationary growth is considered when the commission sets the millage rate. Because of that growth on existing properties, inflation could mean a small increase in taxes paid by county residents. He said that the amount of additional money to the county by not using the rollback rate would have been $115,000 dollars.

That $115,000 could be made up by savings in other areas, Commissioner Steve Myers said. The vote to accept the rollback millage rate for next year was unanimous.

Commissioners also reappointed Mark Bolton, Linda Bragg, Dallas Daniel and Sean Register to the Development Authority of Bryan County.

Commissioner Noah Covington said he has worked with all four of them and that finding good people to serve on various county committees and boards was sometimes difficult. These people, he said, had done an outstanding job and deserved to be reappointed.

ExperCare Urgent Care owner and partner Catherine Grant asked to address the commission about emergency safety issues relating to the availability and turnover of personnel in the ambulance section of Bryan County Emergency Services.

Grant said she occasionally needs an ambulance to pick up a patient at ExperCare and that response times can be more than 20 minutes. She added that pay and facilities seemed to be part of the turnover rate and that that and the number of ambulances could contribute to the longer response times.

Commissioners Chairman Carter Infinger said the board would examine the issue.

The commissioners also approved the switching of $486,590 financing for two county firetrucks from BB&T to South State Bank for a small annual savings in finance charges.

Additional county business included the first reading of an ordinance to regulate solar farms, and accepting a new reimbursement rate for senior meals of $18.35 versus a current rate of $13.88 from the federal government through a contract with the Coastal Regional Commission. The change reflects the increase in senior center programs and more detailed accounting of actual expenses.

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