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RH lowers millage rate again
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The Richmond Hill City Council voted Tuesday night to lower its millage rate for the second consecutive year.

The new rate will be 4.132, down from 4.152. Finance Director Bob Whitmarsh said the city’s gross tax digest — the taxable value of all property in the city —increased about $20 million from 2016 to 2017, up to $575 million.

“We had about $21.5 million in new growth,” Whitmarsh said. “With the new millage rate, we’ll collect about $2.3 million in property taxes.”

In terms of actual savings, property owners will notice little difference. Under the previous 4.152 millage rate, the owner of a home with a taxable value of $120,000 paid about $498 in city taxes. The new rate means the same homeowner will pay about $496 in city taxes at the new rate.

Mayor Harold Fowler said that while the decrease may not seem impressive, he believes it is evidence that the city is not attempting to gouge tax payers. The millage rate decreased for seven consecutive years through 2008, when the recession hit, and was held at 4.209 mills and stayed there until 2016.

“The millage would be much higher if not for SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax),” Fowler said. “That makes a big difference.”

SPLOST will be up for renewal countywide on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Whitmarsh estimated the city’s millage rate would be at about 7 mills without the additional revenue. The city’s overall budget is about $17 million.

In other business, the council approved a conditional use permit for a mini-storage facility to be located at 2940 Highway 17. That is the current location of the A-1 Motel.

Council members said they would approve the permit if the motel building was razed and a berm was added in front of the property similar to the one that runs along Highway 17 in front of the nearby Live Oak townhomes.

Stephen Strickland, who requested the permit, agreed to both and said a house on the property will also be torn down but that a U-Haul rental business there now would remain.


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