North Augusta budget gets final approval

North Augusta City Council gave final approval to its 2018 budget Monday night, voting 5-1 on consecutive measures to adopt the budget and raise the property and hospitality tax rates.

 

Councilman Fletcher Dickert voted against the measures at all three meetings where it was considered, saying he thought the process didn’t do enough to explore options to the tax increases. David McGhee was absent.

The budget contains a 3-mill property tax increase - about $24 on a $200,000 house - and a 1-percentage-point hike in the hospitality sales tax to 2 percent - about 40 cents on a $40 restaurant tab.

Also Monday, council gave final approval to an increase of 25 cents per 1,000 gallons in the wastewater fee, which is a “pass-through” expense from Horse Creek Water Treatment Plant to pay the city’s share of improvements there.

Dickert and the rest of council supported that by a 6-0 vote.

Council also voted unanimously to approve a Lions Club request for a permit to hold the annual Christmas parade on Dec. 10.

Mayor Bob Pettit read and signed a proclamation declaring Arbor Day on Dec. 1 in the city.

Revisiting a measure from last week’s special called meeting, council gave final approval to a ground lease agreement with the Riverside Village hotel developer, Greenstone Hammonds Ferry LLC, selling the land for the hotel and leasing back the land on which the conference center sits, from the ground to the second story.

The city will pay for its own improvements on that land, and each party has access easements to the other party’s property.

The lease will run for 31 years or until repayment of bonds, whichever comes first. The developer will pay all taxes and insurance. It must insure the hotel for the amount of its mortgage, plus the city’s investment of $8 million.

It also approved $600,000 as part of a deal with the developer to make the hotel parking deck bigger — from 327 spaces to 435. The developer is putting in $800,000 more.

The city will get its portion from two sources: bond proceeds that are collecting interest and permits generated by various construction fees from the projects in Riverside Village. Each will contribute $300,000, City Administrator Todd Glover has said.

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