During a regular meeting Aug. 18, the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners discussed various millage rates for FY 2021 and the estimated revenue each proposed rate levied on taxable property could bring in. Commissioners agreed they do not want to increase the current 8.8 mill rate, and are considering rolling back the mill though by how much still needs to be determined.
County officials also stated that continued discussion of a proposed fire fee could be put off until next year. County Administrator David Crawley told commissioners the county would receive enough funding from a CARES Act grant to cover fire service expenses. He added that the county received more revenue from EMS service than initially anticipated which helps cover those costs.
Crawley said the county could not approve a millage until the Board of Education meets Sept. 8 to set its mill rate. The commission would likely have to hold a special called meeting after the school board meets, according to Crawley.
Property taxes are based on millage rates set by county government, the schools and cities. One mill equals a dollar tax per thousand dollars of assessed property value. There are several millage rates that factor into a final property tax bill. In addition to city and county rates, there’s a millage for city and county schools.
In explaining the millage in dollars, Crawley said the taxable value on a $100,000 home is $40,000, and is $120,000 on a $300,000 home. If a homeowner qualifies for a $4,000 homestead exemption, that amount would be subtracted from the taxable value.
Crawley presented a breakdown of proposed millage rates and the corresponding tax bill amounts homeowners would pay.
A millage rate of 8.8 would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $316.80, and the owner of a $300,00 home $1,020.80. A mill rate of 8.5 would cost an owner $306 for a $100,000 home and $986 for a $300,000 home; a mill rate of 8.3 would cost an individual $298.80 for a $100,000 home and $962.80 for a $300,00 home; and a mill rate of 8.03 would cost a taxpayer $289.08 for a $100,000 home and $931.48 for a $300,000 home.
Commission Chairman Charlie Newton commented he would prefer considering the proposed 8.3 mill rate, thereby giving taxpayers back half of the millage increase the county set three years ago.
Crawley said the tax digest has gone up due to new growth in the county.
“There’s a lot of building permits being issued,” he said.
In other county business, the commission amended its street lighting district ordinance and then approved increased lighting district fees for Belle Meade Subdivision. The current rate for Belle Meade is $61.40 and the new rate will be $72.78, according to a county staff report. The report states the increase was necessary due to a change in the subdivision parcel count from 232 to 205 and a rate hike from Georgia Power.
Commissioners also approved a contract with Reeves Construction for the Thomson West Bypass Northern Extension project. According to the contract, Reeves Construction cannot receive more than the bid sum of $13,487,786.85.
Crawley and County Finance Director Pam Workman presented commissioners a monthly budget report for July.
The solid waste fund has had a loss of $18,899.24 (to date) but Workman said the county should see a turnaround in revenue later in the year once the impact from recently increased solid waste rates kicks in.
The general fund has contributed $151,959.01 to E911 and contributed $104,185.90 to support the transit program, according to Crawley.
Current Fire/EMS revenue for 2020 is $1,551,828.74 and expenses are $2,795,457.31, according to the budget report.
County staff offered several budgetary highlights as well.
Raysville campground earned $57,982.99, according to Crawley and Workman. Local Option Sales Tax and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenues last month exceeded June 2019 collections, by 3.5 percent and 3.4 percent respectively, they said.