Commissioner wants fee killed

Wednesday, May 6, 2009 3:59 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 10:42 PM
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The next time Augusta commissioners meet, a proposal to kill the city’s $1 per night hotel fee will be on the table.

Augusta Commissioner Jerry Brigham had the issue added to the agenda for the next Finance Committee meeting, which will be on Monday.

Mr. Brigham said that if the city isn’t moving forward with the downtown trade, exhibit and event center, continuing to charge the fee might be illegal. He’s waiting for an opinion from the city attorney, he said.

“Since we’re obviously not collecting it for tourism, then I don’t think we can collect it,” Mr. Brigham said.

The hotel fee has become a sore spot since commissioners clashed Tuesday on a plan to finance construction of the TEE center. The fee was conceived in 2007 as a compromise to get six votes to approve the center’s Reynolds Street site and operating agreement with Augusta Riverfront LLC. Under the deal, $350,000 a year would go toward operating costs and $750,000 a year toward revitalizing blighted inner city neighborhoods.

But in a vote Tuesday that split along racial lines, the commission failed to pass a financing plan to build the TEE center and jump-start rehab projects in the Laney-Walker and Bethlehem neighborhoods. At one point, Commissioner J.R. Hatney told City Administrator Fred Russell that the neighborhood projects can go forward without the TEE center because that money has been approved. The TEE center, on the other hand, was approved for $20 million by voters in 2005’s special-purpose sales tax package but needs another $18 million for construction and $17 million for a parking deck.

Commissioner Don Grantham accused Commissioner Betty Beard of not upholding her end of a bargain. Ms. Beard said she believes now isn’t the time to build an exposition center, considering the state of the economy.

After the 5-4-1 vote Tuesday, a livid Commissioner Joe Bowles suggested ending the hotel fee.

But as with approval of the TEE center, doing so would take six votes.

“Until we talk about it, we don’t know whether we can get another vote,” Mr. Brigham said.

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Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 05/06/09 - 04:48 pm
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Well, Jerry could join the

Well, Jerry could join the five black commissioners and have 6 votes to end the TEE center and the hotel tax all at one time.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/06/09 - 04:53 pm
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So since it takes six votes

So since it takes six votes to kill the hotel tax, it can't be done unless the blacks change their minds. Thus, the Laney-Walker projects can move on.

mad_max
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mad_max 05/06/09 - 07:54 pm
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Well, you know our kowtowing

Well, you know our kowtowing white commissioners aren't real bright sometimes when they make these "deals". If they can't kill the hotel tax and the Laney-Walker projects, I hope they finally grow a pair of cajones and lock down spending in all of the black districts for years and years. That would cure some problems including our runaway property tax problem and the Betty Beard bribery tax problems. It's about time the white commissioners started playing the same game and using the same abstain and walk out tactics that the black commissioners use. Due to the racial makeup of the Augusta commission and the lack of a tie breaking vote, Augusta is slowly going down the tubes anyway. It doesn't take too deep of an examination of the governing bodies of Columbia county and North Augusta to figure out why Augusta is languishing while there is tremendous progressive growth on both sides of us. It's got nothing to do with "white flight". It's got everything to do with "Holy crap, you can't fix stupid so we might as well leave". Apparently the governor and state legislature have turned their backs on the stalemate problem here so there is no hope for this backward berg. Hey Deke, what up?

humbleopinion
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humbleopinion 05/06/09 - 09:33 pm
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Does nobody care about the

Does nobody care about the dozens of INNOCENT PEOPLE DEAD IN AFGHANISTAN because of Obama and HIS ILLEGAL WAR? Who cares about a $1 per night hotel / motel tax when our country is headed into SOCIALISM because of Obama and his lies?

Taylor B
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Taylor B 05/06/09 - 09:42 pm
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Wrong article, humble.

Wrong article, humble.

humbleopinion
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humbleopinion 05/07/09 - 12:35 am
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What's wrong about it?

What's wrong about it? EVERYTHING is Obama's fault. I'm giving him the exact same respect that Bush got for eight years.
Our commissioners are so incompetent that this is just one of the bungles that will go on this week....this month....this year. Has anyone complained about the $1 motel tax? 51 weeks of the year motels are cheap in Augusta, so $1 makes little difference.

Asitisinaug
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Asitisinaug 05/07/09 - 01:34 am
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The $1.00 fee certainly

The $1.00 fee certainly should not be collected if 100% of it isn't going towards tourism. You already tax hotels and additional 6% over the state 7% tax. ALL unnecessary taxation and spending should be cut 100%. Provide for roads & bridges, public safety and education - the private sector should handle EVERYTHING else. If buses make money in Augsuta, private enterprise will open up a transportation service. If we need a new stadium, then the ticket prices will support building it. If anyone with money were crazy enough to try, they would build the trolley system but no one (except those who spend tax money) would be that stupid. The priorities of this city are so messed up, we are loosing our tax base daily both in business and in those who live here that actually pay taxes and yet we are trying to come up with every thing under the sun to build, buy, fund or support except what really needs it - public safety and education.

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