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One more hearing on tax hike
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When the Liberty County Commission votes on a proposed millage rate increase to  15.3 on Nov. 5 at its regular meeting it will also hold a public hearing to receive questions and comments about the tax.

County Administrator Joey Brown explained, “As a growing community with a demand being placed on services, it is tough to absorb a total of 20 exemptions from operational revenue without additional sources of this type from the state or federal government.”

He added, “However, we are very fortunate to have some non-operational income like the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax which helps with certain capital purchases like emergency vehicles and equipment, recreational materials and building upgrades. ”Instead of local property taxes paying slowly for these they are equally shared through sales of goods and services, 40 percent of which comes from outside sources.”

The county’s tax base is reduced by almost $288 million because of the 20 exemptions. 

The largest exemption is that for disabled veterans, up 25 percent to $11 million. 

The freeport business inventory is next largest exemption, costing the county $150 million. Brown pointed out that as the digest grows exemptions also grow; the 2019 digest is up three percent for tax year 2019 but exemptions at $288 million showed a 7.9 percent increase.

Brown said county government is not directly responsible for most of the tax increase. Three percent of the hike is the amount at the commissioners’ discretion, a little over $84,000.

More than $1.6 million will be spent because the county is subject to state and federal laws requiring county funding. Services considered essential--like police protection--will take $7 million from the increase.

Personnel costs are always a large expense and will take $417,000. Brown said countywide fire protection is on track with full staffing of three fire stations: Gum Branch, Sunbury and Lake George.

More than $1 million from the tax hike will go to make sure county employees are being paid for the work they actually perform and to keep Liberty County competitive in hiring and retention.

The commissioners held a public hearing Oct. 17 to answer questions and hear comments. After the tax hike plan was presented by Kim McGlothin, county finance chief, no comments or questions were offered. The Nov. 5 public hearing will be the last chance for public comment or question.

Parker can be contacted via email at

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