Looking at a possible budget shortfall, the Bryan County Board of Commissioners could raise property taxes by as much as 1.5 mills in 2014.
The issue was raised during a budget workshop Tuesday before the commission’s regularly scheduled meeting at the Administrative Complex inSouth Bryan.
At the workshop, a preliminary 2014 budget shown to commissioners showed revenues of approximately $18.7 million and expenses in excess of $19.7 million. Also discussed was a 1 mill hike combined with a $40 increase in the fire fee, which is currently $120 a year, rather than the 1.5 mill increase.
County officials said the budget shortfall is due to a growing demand for services coupled with shrinking tax revenues to pay for them.
Commissioners seemed divided over the possibility of any tax hike and one commissioner, Jimmy Henderson of District 5, spoke out against any increase.
Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed told the board to “carefully consider,” the proposed increase in the millage rate.
“We really need to spend a lot of time thinking about this,” he said. "It's not something to do lightly."
The county can take no action on the millage rate without first advertising its plans in the local legal organ and then holding three public hearings. The county’s fiscal year runs from January to December.
The current millage rate for the county is 7.9 mills – the second lowest on the coast. Only Glynn County’s 5.63 mills is lower, according to data from the University of Georgia’s online data system at www.georgiastats.uga.edu.BryanCounty’s combined tax rate of 23.69 mills is also second-lowest among coastal counties behind Glynn’s 22.5. The highest combined tax rate isLibertyCounty’s 32.98 mills.
If the millage rate is increased, it would be the first tax hike by commissioners since 2009 when they settled for a .04 millage rate hike after stiff public opposition to a proposed 1 mill increase.
Read more in the June 15 issue of the Bryan County News.