The Hinesville City Council saved property owners some on taxes Thursday while also increasing how much all households and businesses pay in water bills.
Council members voted to roll back the millage rate by .25 of a mill from the 2016 digest rate of 11 mills, setting a new rate of 10.75 mills.
According to the Georgia Department of Revenue website, one mill equates to a tax liability of $1 per $1,000 of assessed value. A property’s assessed value is 40 percent of the fair market value, for example a $100,000 fair market home is assessed at $40,000, according to dor.georgia.gov. Hinesville’s new tax rate on that home, for example, would be approximately $430 without any other deductions. The old rate would have yielded approximately $440.
Setting the tax rate was part of the council’s unanimous adoption a $38.2 million total budget for fiscal year 2018. The budget is broken down into numerous funds. The general fund stands at $19,790,244. A multiple grant fund is $1,394,842. The special purpose local option sales tax fund is $752,332 for capital projects only.
Other funds include special revenue from the hotel/motel tax at $210,959; $410,803 in for road maintenance from the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant program; the water and sewer fund at $10,072,281; the solid waste fund at $3,179,262; funds for Liberty Transit at $909,474; and the stormwater utility fund at $1,521,556. The city’s new fiscal year begins Nov. 1 and ends Oct. 31, 2018.
In addition, the council set new water and sewer rates for Hinesville and new sewer rates for Walthourville which become effective on Nov. 1.
Finance director Kim Ryon said the new rates will increase the average residential water customer’s bill by about 3 percent. Ryon broke down the rate increases by amount of water usage or tiers, with a 41-cent rise to the base rate, a 6-cent rise to the first tier, a 9-cent rise to the second tier, a 13-cent increase to the third tier and a 24-cent increase to the last tier.
The Walthourville sewer rate will increase by 5 percent, which translates to $1.95 per 1,000 gallons. Ryon told council members the city hadn’t raised water and sewer rates since 2012. She said fees and rates are reviewed each year during the budgetary process to ensure rates for services cover the cost of providing services.
The city gave elderly residents a break by approving an increase in the base usage for the senior citizen water rate from 3,000 gallons to 5,000 gallons. Council members also voted to increase the annual income limitation for seniors to qualify for the senior citizen water and sewer rate from $10,000 to $16,920.
In an effort to give local vendors better consideration, council members approved changes to the city’s request of proposal and request for qualifications procedures. The city follows these procedures during the bidding process, when vendors compete for contracts on city projects.
Interim City Manager Ken Howard said the first change to the RFP and RFQ procedures would establish a selection committee made up of the city manager, the city engineer (P.C. Simonton and Associates) and the minority and women owned business enterprise policy consultant.
The city would also provide bidders a copy of the MWBE city policy, specific goals to be set for a project, and a list of certified MBE and WBE contractors that the city considers qualified to meet targeted subcontract opportunities on a project.
Howard told council members that scoring criteria for potential bidders would change under the amended procedures by actually meeting the MWBE goal which is different from the previous "good faith effort" requirement. The modified policy would also include criteria for local preference scoring that would benefit local contractors, he said.
In other business, the council:
• Accepted signs from the Ulrick John Foundation recognizing Hinesville as the home of John, "Hinesville’s first NFL draftee," to be placed at each city entrance. The foundation plans to hold charitable events to benefit charities.
• Approved the design review board’s recommendation to allow a new Dairy Queen be built at 757 E. Oglethorpe Highway. The new fast food restaurant will be built on the current restaurant’s site once the existing building is demolished.