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Richmond Hill lowers millage rate for seventh year
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Richmond Hill set the millage rate for the city of Richmond Hill was officially set at 4.209 on Oct. 21, which is .03 lower than last year. City finance director Bob Whitmarsh presented the numbers to city council during Tuesday’s meeting, and it was unanimously approved.

This equates to lower property taxes for city residents, officials say.

"It’s great that we can continue a downward spiral that started I think about eight years ago," said Richmond Hill Mayor Richard Davis.

City Manager Mike Melton said many other jurisdictions, including Bryan County, have raised their millage rate this year, in response to tough economic times.

"I want to thank Bob, the city manager and the city staff for the time and effort they put into being able to lower the rate," Councilman and Mayor Pro-Tem Floyd Hilliard said. "They know the ambitions of this city council and mayor to lower the residential taxes. There was a lot of crunching numbers and tightening of belts to make it happen, and I want them to know I appreciate it."

Whitmarsh said the general fund accounts for the bulk of what makes up the millage rate, and each department head cut costs to help keep the millage low. He said the biggest factor was real estate, in that 30 percent of the general fund revenue comes from property tax revenue.

He said the county did not do a re-evaluation on property this year, so those tax dollars did not change. In addition, there was new construction, such as the new Kroger, which created more money to be added to the tax digest.

"Most of the digest is in real estate – commercial and residential," Whitmarsh said. "That’s why we had a roll back."

In other business:

- Stella Farinacci’s proposed 6,000 square-foot inflatable recreation center, to be located near the interchange on Ford Avenue in the new Ford Park of Commerce commercial plaza, was approved.

- Jackson Court was approved for land clearing.

- Five commercial lots were approved for Turtle Landing on Harris Trail. Currently, the only commercial property on Turtle Landing is Energy Oasis.

- The final subdivision plat for Interstate Commerce Center, a tract next to the Hwy. 17 McDonald’s, was approved. Zaxby’s is slated to break ground on the tract in November, and there are talks of a Cracker Barrel and several other restaurants coming to the center.

- A request from Poppell Farms to sell Christmas trees on a tract near Rushing Street was approved.

- $10,000 was granted to the Richmond Hill Hometown Holiday Celebration Committee for the usual city holiday events, including a chili cook-off and a Christmas parade.

- An alcohol license was granted to Arpit Patel for Richmond Hill Beverage, formerly BB&J, next to Publix. The shop, which recently was involved in a drug arrest, is in the process of being sold.

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