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Hearing set to increase Hancock millage
By Dwayne Bremer
Aug 13, 2014, 08:58

The Hancock County Board of Supervisors will host a public hearing on Aug. 29 to discuss a proposed 3.21 mil increase for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
Supervisors voted 4-1 Monday to host the public hearing, which is mandated by state law before a tax increase is enacted.
District Three Supervisor Lisa Cowand cast the lone "no" vote.
Supervisors conducted a workshop on Monday to discuss the upcoming budget.
Last year, supervisors made large cuts to the budgets of the sheriff, tax assessor/collector, circuit clerk, and chancery clerk.
Last year's total budget was $38.13 million, with $18.28 million coming from ad valorem taxes.
The county levied 41.46 mils last year. This year, the value of a mil is up slightly from $453,000 to approximately $460,000.
A mil is determined by a formula which includes property tax, auto tax, taxes on personal property such as RVs, and utilities.
County taxpayers have not seen a millage increase in at least two decades. A few years, supervisors have lowered millage to offset the rise in a mil's value.
This year's projected budget is $35.445 million, with $19.96 million coming from ad valorem.
The proposed 3.21 mil increase would cost a taxpayer an additional $32 for every $100,000 worth of value, officials said.
The millage increase would include a .6 mil raise to cover higher costs and volume of solid waste collection and a 1.83 mil increase for general fund revenue.
Supervisors also added an extra .78 mils for employee raises and benefits. County employees have not had a pay raise in four years and many of them saw their paychecks decrease earlier this year when the county changed its insurance plan.
Supervisors said increases in expenditures have caused the need for additional revenue.
"As far as we can forecast, this will keep our budget balanced for the foreseeable future," District Five Supervisor Tony Wayne Ladner said Monday.
District One Supervisor David Yarborough said Monday that he has received "40 or 50" calls about the proposed tax raise and most of his constituents understand the need for it.
Cowand, however, said she has received different reviews.
"I have gotten a lot of outrage," Cowand said. "I guess our constituents are different."
District Four Supervisor Steve Seymour said that a lot can change before the public hearing.
"We are going to continue to work on it in the next two weeks," he said.
State law requires that cities and counties set their respective budgets by Sept. 15.


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