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12 OYS: Columbia Co. Board of Education raises property tax; Commission expected to lower rate

Tax increase

This school board vote means families will be paying more to live in the county. (WRDW-TV / July 19, 2011)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, July 19, 2011

EVANS, Ga. -- Keith Hendry and his family have lived in Columbia County for 23 years. In a few more, their second child will graduate from high school here.

"You hear about it everyday," Hendry said. "Columbia County schools -- how good they are -- our experiences have always been excellent."

But a school board vote means families like Hendry's will be paying more to live in the county.

"The board agreed during the budget process for a half mil, which is about $2 million for us," said Pat Sullivan, controller with the Columbia County Board of Education.

The extra $2 million will help close a $16 million shortfall -- created by state budget cuts and declines in tax revenue.

The increase means Hendry would pay about 20 more dollars a year for a $100,000 home.

"We all count pennies, we obviously do; we own a small business in Columbia County and have for 12 years," Hendry said. "Our support for Columbia County -- an additional $24 a year -- won't affect us a bit."

Especially because it's the first time the school raised the millage rate in 14 years.

Hendry just wants to know that those dollars are being spent wisely and put forth to good use.

"We're good stewards of the money," Sullivan said. "We try to be. I think everybody recognizes what a good education we provide the students ... We provide a very good bang for the buck."

But those bucks could continue to disappear.

"Next year if the taxes aren't going up or state revenues don't increase, then we'll have to make more tough decisions," Sullivan said.

Tuesday night, the Columbia County Commission was expected to lower property taxes by a one-quarter mill, meaning the overall rate is a one-quarter mill increase, about $12 more for a $100,000 home.

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