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County approves budget
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Effingham County commissioners have approved a fiscal year 2017 budget, which will go into effect July 1.

The budget calls for $28.1 million in spending and revenue. The overall increase from the FY16 budget is 2.34 percent, or $642,000.

County finance director Joanna Wright said the budget includes additional staff for the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office jail booking desk and includes longevity raises for county employees.

Adjustments in personnel, including not replacing employees who leave, sharing staff and co-mingling staff resulted in a $279,000 reduction in expenses, Wright said, lessening the increase in personnel costs to $202,000.

The county also is trying to rebuild capital in certain areas, she said, by purchasing radios, weapons and gear for the sheriff’s office and heart monitors for the EMS department.

“We felt like that was something that was needed,” Wright said. “Our capital has been demanding through the years.”

County has recommended keeping the millage rate at 8.337, which is the current level. Property taxes will remain the same for land owners whose assessments have not increased, though those with higher assessments will be paying more.

Commissioners also may weigh what to do with the millage rate levied on behalf of the hospital authority. The county is obligated to pay the hospital $3.2 million each year to cover the cost of indigent health care, but Commissioner Vera Jones pointed out the existing millage rate of 1.977 is not raising $3.2 million.

“So we’ve had to borrow from the general fund,” she said.