Commissioner Jim Hubbard voted against the measure, which raised the millage rate by 0.86 mills.
The county’s total millage rate now sits at 9.13 mills, which includes 5.36 for the general fund, 3.129 for the fire district and .641 for the parks bond.
The new rate means 5.825 mills for general fund expenses, 3.394 mills for fire and 0.780 for the parks bond.
The fire district and general fund rates are considered revenue neutral, but the parks rate is not as it’s set to cover debt service related to the county’s parks bond program, according to Chief Financial Officer Janelle Funk.
The commissioners also gave final approval to the requested 19.850 mills needed by the school board for operations and bond expenses next year, which was the same as last year’s rate adopted by the Board of Education and which means a reduction in the school portion of the taxes for county residences.
The new tax rate combined to be 29.849 mills, which is a 2.98 percent overall increase above last year’s total taxes, Commission Chair Buzz Ahrens said.
Commissioner Harry Johnston said the credit for what he projected would be a decrease for most taxpayers went in most part to Cherokee County Board of Education.
“Of our rates that we directly set, we could argue all day on whether it is a tax increase, it certainly is a tax rate increase, but it is not a tax amount increase,” Johnston said. “The average taxpayer will not see an increase in taxes paid.”
Hubbard said after the meeting he voted against the measure because he had heard from a number of constituents who opposed keeping the tax rate revenue neutral.
Hubbard, who is the only commissioner seeking re-election, said that many good suggestions for how to cut county expenses had been brought forward by county residents at recent meetings.
Jerry Cooper also praised some of the suggestions from those attending recent public hearings on the millage rate increase.
“After we heard from residents at the last meeting, I challenged staff to look into some of the suggestions, and those legitimate questions and concerns that we received,” Cooper said. “That said, I think we are doing a great job, and that the citizens should be proud of the job being done by the county.”
He said the county has streamlined, cut expenses and consolidated services whenever possible.