Editor: I just returned to my overtaxed house in Hinesville after a County Commission public hearing on another property tax increase.
Since I’m now retired and plan to stay in Hinesville for the foreseeable future, I thought I should find out what justification there was for this latest tax increase.
See last week’s Coastal Courier for the very large ad that brought me and one other property owner to the hearing. It was very informative. I feel that I’m slightly better informed on Liberty County tax structure and budget issues now than I was this morning.
But that is not good enough.
I’m determined to educate myself on this subject which affects every property owner (and indirectly every resident) of Liberty County. I was amazed that no one else showed up to learn about this latest tax increase. I understand that most people have to work but this meeting was at lunch time and you would have been only ½ hour late returning to work (which absence I’m sure most employers would have approved if they knew the cause.) Ms. Kim McGlothlin, the county CFO, explained the budget (which was approved in June with minimal to no citizen participation) and the tax base (the digest). This digest brings in almost enough revenue to cover the budget but because of recent changes such as the reassignment of the county EMS services to the county from the hospital authority, a shortfall must be made up.
There were no copies of the budget available for citizen review, but the commissioners assured us that they used red ink to get rid of unneeded expenses. While I don’t question their good will and sincerity, I would like to see that for myself.
Mr. Marion Stevens of District 1 questioned the CFO regarding the transfer of EMS assets as well as expenses to the county from the hospital authority. He also asked if the tax exemption for the Freeport should be reduced gradually for manufacturers with more established businesses making large profits. He indicated that he would follow up on those issues. Questions were asked about unnecessary expenditures, but these were all sidelined as being City not County expenses or pertaining to the Board of Education or other entities with separate budgets and spending. The possibility of County agencies using vacant space in the BoE building was questioned but this suggestion was shot down with vague justification.
It looks like there is no way of escaping this millage increase but we all need to be involved in the next budget hearings so we can put a cap on the spending.
Please see the recent budget meeting: https://youtu.be/ PotTlQqa65s
Joy Moritz, Hinesville