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BOC officially approves 10.91 rollup rate
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On Tuesday, the Newton County Board of Commissioners officially approved a 10.91 millage rate for FY2011, three weeks after approving the $46.3 million budget that depended on increased property revenues from that rollup millage rate.

The millage rate approval had to be delayed in order to give the county time to properly advertise the revised 10.91 rate as required by law; previously the 9.73 rate had been the only rate publicly advertised.

The official decision was met with little fanfare as no residents spoke at the 6:30 p.m. budget public hearing. However, during the regular BOC meeting, Commissioner J.C. Henderson commented on the layoffs and said he felt he deserved to know the names of the county employees being laid off, not just their positions.

Mirroring the 3-2 budget vote, commissioners Mort Ewing and Tim Fleming voted against the 10.91 millage rate.

The county is expecting to collect $25.8 million in property taxes in FY2011, down from nearly $27.7 million last year. The net tax digest for FY2011 is $2.36 billion, down $481 million from last year's $2.84 billion net digest. This net digest reduction was incorrectly reported by The News reported in previous budget stories.

In other budget news, the BOC approved a resolution to allow all county employees involuntarily terminated without cause during 2010 to receive 100 percent of the money they invested in their 401k program, regardless of service time. Normally, employees become fully vested in their investment plan only after four years of service.

Administrative Assistant John Middleton said the county has already set money aside to cover this cost. Last year, the county extended health benefits to the employees it laid off, Middleton said, allowing them to maintain their health coverage past the normal 30-day period.