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Columbia County Commission approves budget with tax cut

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 8:44 PM
Last updated 9:29 PM
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Columbia County commissioners approved a $56 million budget Tuesday that includes a cut in property taxes.

The general fund budget is adjusted to include a half-mill rollback in the county millage rate, which collectively saves property owners about $2 million.

The half-mill cut would be the portion of the 9.137 millage earmarked for paying off debt.

County Finance Services Director Leanne Reece recently told commissioners that four construction projects funded with a 2007 bond all came in under budget, creating an excess officials can use for debt reduction.

Coupled with a nearly 4 percent boost in sales tax revenues, Reece said the excess bond funds can cover next year’s debt payments.

Commissioners have voted to cut the mill rate in four of the past five years. Including last year’s rollback, the county government’s millage rate will be about three-quarters less than in 2010.

One mill represents about $4 million in property taxes.

The 2012-13 fiscal year budget is a 1.56 percent increase over this year, but officials have said they can make up the added spending with an expected 2 percent growth in the tax digest.

Commissioners also approved Tuesday additional funding for a playground for children with disabilities.

Site clearing for the playground in a wooded area near two existing playgrounds behind the Columbia County Library in Evans already is under way.

A resident of the neighboring Northwood subdivision complained that the playground infringes too far into a wooded buffer zone between his property and the library grounds, noting that the edge of the playground comes within 15 feet of his backyard fence.

Though a proponent of the playground, David Sweet asked commissioners to consider moving it to the Evans Towne Center Park.

Commission Chairman Ron Cross told Sweet that the playground is best-suited at its current location because it offers convenient parking. Cross said officials can work with the neighborhood to offer it more privacy.

Construction and Main­tenance Services Director Matt Schlachter said he likely can rework the playground’s layout to keep it farther away from Sweet’s home.

With Tuesday’s approval, officials now have $80,000 in sales tax money to buy and install specialized playground equipment and rubber mulch padding.

The playground will be accessible to children in wheelchairs and include a roller slide and full-harness swing.

Staff writer Valerie Rowell contributed to this story.

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itsanotherday1
48437
Points
itsanotherday1 06/06/12 - 12:29 am
1
0
Tax cut?

That is a sick joke considering the assessments of property values in this recessive real estate market.

Craig Spinks
818
Points
Craig Spinks 06/06/12 - 01:49 am
1
0
CC Budgets

Besides the General Fund Budget, how many budgets does CC have?

blues550
380
Points
blues550 06/06/12 - 05:35 am
0
0
Good Government
Unpublished

A shining example of government done right. Well done Columbia County. My tax bill is an investment, not a burden.

seenitB4
98902
Points
seenitB4 06/06/12 - 06:23 am
0
1
Tax cut

Good for Columbia county...but you still need a big civic center.....you can afford it...ya can't fool me...:)

Lady Diver
2
Points
Lady Diver 06/06/12 - 08:18 am
0
1
Playground

I would Like to say a big thank you to the Columbia County Board of Commissioners for approving the funding for the special needs playground! It is something we have needed in this county for a long while. As for Mr. Sweet, you are obviously a very selfish and uncaring individual. I think you would have a very different outlook if your child wasn't allowed to play on the playground! But I guess that is part of the issue, you aren't interested in anyone else's needs as long as you get your way! With that said, I do pray that you never have to find out what it is like to raise a child with a disability, even if it would teach you a little compassion.

@Craig Spinks, Every Department in the county has its own operating budget.

Bradley
2
Points
Bradley 06/07/12 - 06:44 am
0
0
Lady Diver, Your disparaging

Lady Diver,

Your disparaging remarks regarding Mr. Sweet are uncalled for. If you
knew the man you would be ashamed to say such things. You stated that he is not interested in anyone else's needs as long as he gets his way. Did you not read that Mr. Sweet is for construction of the playground, but simply had concerns about its proximity to his home and all that it would entail (noise levels,closer loitering of teenagers at night, etc.), or are you just ignoring that fact? You might be suprised that you yourself would have a different outlook if you were in a position susceptible of ever encroaching development, however noble that development might be.

As for him learning compassion, I would have you know he devotedly takes care of his wife, who suffers from a disability. Be careful in your judgements about others. Hopefully this needed project will be completed, but it need not be exclusive of the due consideration to the Northwood residents affected by it.

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