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County commissioners trim, adopt millage rate
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Property tax bills could be in Effingham County residents’ hands by the end of the month after Effingham County commissioners adopted a millage rate Monday night.

Commissioners unanimously approved a county millage rate of 8.53, a reduction of last year’s rate of 8.854. The rollback rate — the rate the county must adopt in order what is essentially a property tax increase because of higher assessments — was 8.777. The county has rolled back its millage for at least the last six years, finance director Joanna Wright said.

The total millage for residents in the unincorporated areas of the county will be 28.083. The school board has adopted a millage rate of 15.333, and the hospital authority is levying a rate of 1.97. By state law, the state gets .25 mills, and the Effingham Industrial Development Authority is set at 2 mills by a state constitutional amendment.

County commissioners and officials said the millage rate can sustain the budget adopted this summer.

“We passed a budget that is $600,000 less than the year before,” County Administrator David Crawley said. “We’ve done a significant amount of work to reduce the county portion’s of the (property) tax.”

The county’s fiscal year 2009 budget was $30.6 million. Commissioners also weighed a millage rate of 8.687 for this year’s budget.

Commissioners agreed to keep the county sanitation and fire fees at their current levels. The sanitation fee is $168 a year, or $14 a month, with $8 for each additional cart. The fire fees will be $35 a year for homes and $50 a year for businesses. Commissioners looked into revised business and industrial fire fees before opting not to change it.

“We are still working on a service delivery strategy with the cities, and that has implications on those fees,” Crawley said.

County officials have an appointment with the state Revenue Department to take the digest to Atlanta for review and approval. Should the order to collect be given by the DOR, tax bills could be sent out by Nov. 30. Property owners will have 60 days to pay their property taxes once bills are delivered.

The tax assessors’ Web site also has been updated, Chief Appraiser Janis Bevill said, and 2009 land values are on the site.