Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Who Wants Tax Increase in Augusta?

Due to the passage of House Bill 386, the state and local sales and use taxes on energy used in manufacturing was phased out over a 4-year period beginning January 1, 2013. The legislation established a process aimed towards making the impact of this removal of the local sales tax revenue neutral for city and county governments, provided that these governments adopt  a local excise tax on energy used in manufacturing at the same rates.

Columbia County adopted the local excise tax whereas Augusta declined to do so at a cost of $1 million in 2013; $2 million in 2014; $3 million in 2015; and $4 million the following year.

The 2014 General Assembly passed a collection of tax measures, signed by Governor Nathan Deal, that will drain up to $107 million from Georgia's local governments over the next two years and up to $154 million over the next five years. The total loss would have been higher had Deal not vetoed the title ad valorem tax (TAVT) legislation, House Bill 729, which would have cost local governments an additional $53 million dollars over the next five years.

Remember! We had an ice storm that did extensive damage in the area and created an unanticipated drain on the cities finances. The ice storm expense coupled with all the unfunded mandates has given Augusta no other choice but to increase taxes.

I solicit your ideas. Let me know what we can do better.

Bill Lockett:

Senator Hardie Davis voted in favor of HB 386. He was elected Mayor of Augusta and will take office in January 2015. Lockett and Davis are Democrats. A tax cut for industries or anything else is considered a subsidy from taxpayers in need of services, such as an improved Augusta Public Transit or dry area where flooding occurs every time that it rains.

Right now, city officials are considering raising property taxes by two mills which means if you own a $100,000 home, you'll owe an extra $70 a year. It would bring in more than $8 million for the city.

They're considering two budget plans which both include reducing all city budgets by one percent, selling city employees up to 3 additional vacation days, and possibly taxing manufacturing companies up to 2 percent.

Richmond County is facing a nearly $5 million hole. After 6 months with an Interim Administrator there is no sign somebody will come to save the taxpayers finances as the permanent Chief Financial Officer, yet.

Still the Augusta Commission authorized on July 2 $565,000 in change orders to ongoing renovations at the Municipal Building and restarted construction on the building’s eighth and ninth floors.

Below the Richmond County Commission session on June 26 when Commissioners voted against pumping more money for renovations, among other discussions.

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