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County set to adopt millage
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Effingham County commissioners may adopt a 2009 millage rate at a special called meeting Monday.

Commissioners will convene Monday at 6 p.m. to adopt the millage rate based on the 2009 digest, which has been approved by the Board of Assessors and sent to the state Department of Revenue.

“They didn’t take any action to stop the submittal of the digest,” said County Administrator David Crawley of the assessors board, which met Monday night. “The digest is moving forward.”

The county’s current gross millage rate is 8.854, and the county took in $15.1 million in property taxes last year, more than $147,000 less than the year before. During fiscal year 2010 budget talks, commissioners discussed a millage rate of 8.687.

County Attorney Eric Gotwalt said the assessors board has been threatened with two different pieces of litigation. One challenged the values under the provisions of HB 233 and the other was a petition to remove the three incumbent members. The two newest members took their seats Monday night, bringing the board to a five-man body.

The assessors board will be represented by Patrick O’Connor and Ben Perkins of Oliver and Maner of Savannah, Gotwalt said.

The county’s property digest grew 7.62 percent from the previous year, up from $1.84 billion to $1.98 billion. Values in heavy equipment and timber both fell substantially, with heavy equipment losing $1.5 million, or about 75 percent. Timber values fell by more than $1.2 million.

Real and personal property is valued at $1.805 billion, up by $136 million from the 2008 values.

A motion not to approve the increases in 2009 land values under HB 233 failed at the assessors board meeting, but assessors agreed to revisit the issue if necessary upon advice from their legal counsel and after receiving the performance review report. A three-person team conducted a performance review of the assessors last week.

Commissioners also are expected to approve 2009 sanitation and fire fees at Monday’s meeting.