Despite an overall slip in Richmond County property values, city commissioners voted Monday not to turn to taxpayers to offset the decline in tax revenue.
With members J.R. Hatney and Joe Jackson absent, the commission unanimously approved keeping the millage the same.
City Administrator Fred Russell said the tax digest fell 1.4 percent in the past year, which is much better than most of the nation.
The commission could raise the millage and legally not be increasing taxes because the revenue wouldn't exceed what was collected last year, Mr. Russell said, describing one option.
"Let me assure you, your constituents would certainly consider it a tax increase because they would pay more money," he told commissioners.
Instead, he recommended that they tentatively adopt the same rate they taxed at a year ago. That's the rate used when commissioners set the current year's budget in November.
Mr. Russell said the budget can absorb the lost revenue because the city has tightened its belt so much that the buckle is in the last hole and the ice pick is prepared to punch another.
Chief Appraiser Calvin Hicks said the tax digest decreased by about $53 million.
Even without a change in the millage, Augusta tax bills could be higher. The state has discontinued homeowner tax-relief grants, and if Augusta's final disbursement has to be applied to last year's finances, this year's taxes will be $293 higher for urban taxpayers and $241 higher for suburban taxpayers.
Commissioners will have the final vote on the millage at noon July 28.
Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.