Aiken County Council made no changes to its millage for the fiscal year 2015, keeping the rate at 69.9.
Council adopted the rate during a special called meeting Tuesday night.
County Administrator Clay Killian said the meeting was called because the tax books have to be ready by Oct. 1, and the County tries to get the bills out by that time, as well.
Killian said the millage for the individual categories stayed the same and added up to the 69.9 rate, with one mill equating to $560,000 for Aiken County.
“These rates are exactly the same as last year, so we didn't change anything,” he said. “They set and appropriate the budget by June 30, and then all the numbers get crunched and we then know the value of one mill in Aiken County.”
The decision not to raise the millage is a follow-up to Councilwoman Kathy Rawls' June proposal to increase the salary range for Aiken County employees by 10 percent – a cost of $520,000.
It would also adjust the grades in the Sheriff's Office, the detention center and EMS, at a cost of $378,000. Lastly, the proposal would assure every employee “at least” a $1,000 increase in salary, at a cost of $400,000 to $500,000.
“The budget was adopted with a different way to increase salaries without doing a tax increase,” Killian said. “The raises were included, and we're funding it from savings in the budget.”
A possible increase to the millage has been a hot topic as of late, with county agencies, such as the Sheriff's Office, vying for an increase.
Sheriff Michael Hunt has been the most outspoken on the issue and did not receive his original request of Council to raise the millage specifically for law enforcement to 4 mills. That rate, he said, could bring in a potential $2.3 million, equalling a 20 percent salary increase for all Sheriff's Office employees, himself excluded.
He previously applauded the salary increase, but is still hoping for an increased millage in the future.
“I think it's going to help attract (employees),” Hunt said in July. “I mean, the starting salaries are going up. It may help retain some employees. It's a start, and we will assess what Council gave us and make it work.”
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.