The Columbia County Commission and the school board set their respective property tax rates last week. Both bodies were content to accept the added revenue from property value reassessments without raising millage.
The school board unanimously agreed Tuesday to keep its rate at 17.09 mills for the coming year.
Superintendent Charles Nagle said the school system based its $176 million budget for 2008-09 on a 7.59 percent increase in the tax digest. Growth will account for 56 percent of the increase, and the rest is attributed to reassessments.
Nagle said that by accepting the growth in the tax digest, the school system will be within $71,000 of a balanced budget. He said the budget shows a $9 million increase compared to last year.
The budget includes state-mandated pay raises of 2 percent for administrators and 2.5 percent for other employees; 30 additional teaching positions; six additional bus drivers; startup costs of $375,000 for Stallings Island Middle School, which is opening in August; $650,000 to cover increases in utilities and fuel costs; and $918,000 for the purchase of math and science textbooks.
"I think (residents) see that they're getting their money's worth," said Regina Buccafusco, the board chairwoman. "Nobody likes taxes to go up. Everybody wants taxes to go down, but people realize what they're investing in."
During a meeting Wednesday, the county commission increased property taxes by 5.15 percent above the rollback millage for fire service and by 19.03 percent above the rollback millage for debt service, but reduced the millage for maintenance and operations from 6.857 to 6.652.
The changed numbers resulted in the same rate, 9.637 in unincorporated areas, as last year.
Because the county did not roll back the tax rate, a homeowner in the unincorporated portion of the county with an average assessed home value of $100,000 will pay $1.70 more in property taxes.
Property owners in Harlem and Grovetown who have an average assessed home value of $100,000 will see a 65-cent increase in their county property taxes.
Grovetown city officials agreed July 14 to a nearly 25 percent increase in city taxes, raising the rate to 5.64 mills from 4.64.
The increase, the city's first in 20 years, is expected to bring in nearly $300,000 in additional revenue.
Harlem kept its 5.35 millage, expecting the assessment increase to provide additional revenue of $27,300.
The county's overall budget increased this year by more than $1.1 million to more than $56.7 million. The budget for fire service went up about $1 million to nearly $8.5 million.
Property tax bills will be mailed Aug. 11, and they will be due Nov. 15.
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