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County trims millage rate
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Effingham County commissioners approved a slightly lower millage rate and also voted to keep fire and sanitation fees the same during a special called meeting Wednesday evening.

The millage rate for residents in the unincorporated portions of the county is being trimmed from 8.558 to 8.422. With the board of education, hospital authority, industrial development authority and the state millages added in, the total rate for residents in the unincorporated portions of the county is 29.107.

With the new millage rate, the county projects to collect $14.79 million in property taxes, which is about 55 percent of the total general fund revenue. In June, commissioners approved a $26.81 million budget for FY15, which began July 1.

Commissioner Steve Mason voted to approve the new millage rate and he reiterated his opposition to the fiscal year 2015 budget adopted in June.

“I still think there are areas we can cut,” he said. “There are things I believe we could have cut this year. All of us ran on lowering taxes, not keeping them the same or lowering them. In this case, we’re not raising them, but we’re keeping them the same.”

County finance director Joanna Wright said the difference per household in property taxes is about $20. Mason, though, said the county has shifted some revenue from taxes to fees so the net result is about the same.

The county’s digest had a small increase, up by $3 million to $1.531 billion.

The total millage rate was 29.702 for fiscal year 2013 and at 29.602 for FY14. The state’s levy has dropped to .1, and the school board also shaved its millage rate.

County commissioners also voted to keep the fire fees at $80 for residential structures and $250 for commercial properties.

Sanitation fees also were held at their current level of $200. Sanitation bills for new homes are issued at the time the house is sold, unless the builder requests sanitation service during construction.