CHIPLEY – Washington County Board of County Commissioners voted Thursday to approve the proposed millage rate for the upcoming fiscal year.

Set at 8.9735, the rate falls in line with the boards promise to lower taxes for their constituents.

“We have lowered taxes again this year,” said Commissioner Todd Abbott. “We made the promise to do so and we are keeping that promise.”

A budget hearing date has been set for September 5 at 5:05 p.m.

A special exception for a cemetery to be placed off St. Mary’s Road in Caryville was also approved by the commission. The original application was approved by the Washington County Planning Commission in early June, but was voted down when it went before the Caryville Town Council on June 12.

Caryville’s attorney Jerry Miller advised the board to approve the measure on legal grounds.

“There is nothing in the evidence presented to you that shows you shouldn’t approve the request,” said Miller. “While I cannot tell you how to vote, but you have competent, substantial evidence before you from county staff to approve the request.”

Miller went on to talk about voting based on emotion rather than law.

“We are a part of a process and I would suggest to you that the difficulty you are having is emotional and not a matter of law and fact,” he said.

Chairman Tray Hawkins spoke on the matter, stating while he is a firm believer in ‘home rule,’ the board must follow the county’s comprehensive plan.

“Following home rule is something I fiercely believe in,” said Hawkins. “But it is our responsibility to also follow our comprehensive plan as it is laid out.”

Pastor Tony Howard of Spirit Filled Church of God in Christ, who filed the application spoke to the board, explaining that they have followed the letter of the law while pursuing approval.

“We have complied with everything we are supposed to do,” said Howard. “We have followed all the guidelines and done everything we were supposed to do according to the law. I don’t think its fair to people who follow the law and do things right.”

The board voted unanimously to allow the cemetery to be constructed.

In other business, the board approved to permanently transfer the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program to the Northwest Florida Regional Housing Authority to be effective October 1.

Also at the meeting, approval was given for the board to deed a .21 acre parcel of land to the City of Vernon in order for a land swap with Jim Harris to take place where Harris will deed the parking lot of the Sportsplex in Vernon to the city.

Commissioners gave their approval to sell the Big Bend building on South Boulevard to Washington Human Services,LLC for $200,000 subject to a commercial contract/ purchase agreement.

Washington County Board of County Commissioners will meet again in workshop at 9 a.m. on August 15.