Columbia County commissioners might decide Tuesday to lower taxes and give raises to employees.
Members of the Management and Financial Services Committee voted Wednesday to drop the millage by a quarter mill to 9.387. The full commission will vote on the recommendation during a meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the auditorium of the Evans Government Center.
A quarter-mill reduction equates to a $9.50 tax cut on a home worth $100,000.
Officials said rising sales tax revenues and a sound reserve fund make the millage rollback possible.
The county's reserve fund contains more than $27.5 million, which equates to 180 days of operating capital in case of emergencies.
Keeping the current millage likely would exceed the county's 180-day cap on the reserve, said County Administrator Steve Szablewski.
Last month, commissioners voted that any revenues exceeding the reserve cap would be used to either pay debt or lower the millage.
Szablewski recommended that commissioners lower property taxes after noting that sales tax revenues are exceeding expectations.
For nearly every month this year, sales tax revenues have increased compared to the same month in previous years since 2006.
At more than $1.3 million, the 12-month average for sales tax collections is the highest it has ever been.
Even with the tax cut, commissioners likely will add more than $350,000 into next year's budget for employee merit raises on Tuesday.
When officials formulated the budget for next fiscal year, which started Thursday, they expected flat growth in the county's tax digest and included no money for raises. They also took $500,000 out of the budget in case the tax digest dwindled.
However, the tax digest likely will grow by 0.3 percent, Szablewski said.
Only employees who have been with the county at least a year will be eligible for raises. Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue firefighters, while not county employees, also will be eligible for raises.
The raises likely will be capped at 2 percent and the amount of the raise will be determined by department heads and elected officials following employee evaluations in October.
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