Liberty County Commissioners are moving ahead with their plan to increase the property tax rate to 16.3 mills outside Hinesville and 14.8 mills inside Hinesville.
At the commissioners’ first public hearing on the increase Tuesday, County Administrator Joey Brown pointed out that the decision to provide fulltime fire protection “was a heavy hitter” in the tax rate hike. More than $1 million has been spent on the fire department, Brown said, and 18 fulltime firefighters will be on the job this year.
Commission Chairman Donald Lovette said fire protection was an example of the concern for public safety: “We are trying to ensure that our citizens are safe.”
Kim McGlothlin, county finance chief, used an example of a home with a fair market value of
$150,000 and no exemptions to illustrate the cost of the millage increase. In the unincorporated area of Liberty County and the six smaller municipalities, not Hinesville, the tax would go up by $60, from $918 to $978.
Hinesville residents pay city taxes for a number of services and they are not required to pay county taxes for the same services provided by Hinesville. The $150,000 home in Hinesville will pay $888 in taxes, an increase of $22.
The only member of the public at the first hearing was Bob Sprinkel, retired county administrator. Sprinkel praised the commission for its hard work in managing the taxpayers’ money and said, “You are good stewards.”
Sprinkel said he was pleased that county employees were receiving a cost-of-living pay increase. He questioned the commission’s recent decision to pay for Medicare Advantage for elected officials who have served two terms. “Make it all above board,” he said.
McGlothlin’s presentation noted that property tax exemptions have increased by more than $19 million, to $307 million in 2020. “Liberty is an exemption-rich county,” she said.
The two largest exemptions are the freeport, a tax break for stored materials, amounting to $160 million, and the exemption for disabled veterans, $70 million.
Another public hearing was set for the commissioners’ regular meeting Tuesday evening and the third will be Nov. 19 at 5 p.m. when adoption of the rate is planned. Email Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org.