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Commissioners to consider 10 percent fee increase

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Fees to sell and serve alcohol, operate a business and practice a profession could be going up if a proposed 10 percent increase is approved by Augusta commissioners today.

Susan McCord
Government Reporter
Twitter: @reportr1
E-mail | 706-823-3215

The city's public services committee will take up the increases, which would generate an additional $353,000 annually. If the proposal makes it out of committee, final approval by the full commission could come next week.

The amount would be a help, but nowhere near the fix needed to fill the $9 million deficit in Administrator Fred Russell's 2011 budget that commissioners passed last week.

A restaurant that serves beer, wine and liquor on premises, for example, would see annual license fees go from $4,235 to $4,658. If the restaurant sells liquor on Sunday, the proposed fee goes to $5,445.

Georgia cities and counties vary widely in their implementation of alcohol license fees. In Columbus, the same restaurant would pay $2,800; in Athens, $5,529; in Macon, $2,864 and in Savannah, $4,645. Columbus and Athens also levy additional taxes based on prior-year sales.

In Columbia County, the same restaurant pays $2,500 to $5,000, depending on its occupancy.

Also on the table in Augusta are increases in business license fees, which would raise the amount on a grocery store with annual gross income of $28 million and 60 employees, for example, from $3,104 to $3,414.

That same grocery would pay $2,250 in Columbia County, $1,878 in Athens, $8,539 in Savannah and a whopping $28,050 in Columbus, where voters enacted a freeze on property taxes.

Also due for fee increases under the proposal are street vendors, taxicab operators, fortune tellers, exotic dance establishments and other entertainment venues, as well as occupational taxes for professionals.

But Commissioner Jerry Brigham, the chairman of the public services committee, said he thought the 10 percent increase was unlikely to pass.

"I suspect something may pass, but I don't know 10 percent will pass," Brigham said.

The city's license and inspection department, which provided the comparison data, was asked to investigate fee increases earlier this year, he said.

The commission's public safety, public services, administrative services, engineering and finance committees meet today, starting at 12:45 p.m. in commission chambers.

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augusta citizen
10694
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augusta citizen 11/29/10 - 01:21 am
0
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Oh certainly, tax businesses

Oh certainly, tax businesses out of business, that'll sure help the local economy.

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 11/29/10 - 02:37 am
0
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Goodness! Well, hey, thats

Goodness! Well, hey, thats one way to quash investment in Richmond County.

Pizzaguy
0
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Pizzaguy 11/29/10 - 03:20 am
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Why does govt. jump so fast

Why does govt. jump so fast on increasing taxes and fees instead of cutting back? It is discouraging for anybody trying to establish a business or upgrade a business to hire more people while being nickel and dimed to death. Most households in this country have had to cut back, I say govt, should also. "When you rob Peter to pay Paul, Paul ain't saying nothin'"

justus4
124
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justus4 11/29/10 - 03:34 am
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OK, isn't that city in a red
Unpublished

OK, isn't that city in a red state? Doesn't that mean republican? Don't they SAY they view any tax increase as Socialism? Isn't the chant from that bunch "No new taxes" or " We've got to lower taxes so that the economic engine can thrive" or "The government is interfering with small businesses" or "We've can't raise taxes in a time with the Worst Recession since the Great Depression" but here we have the EXACT thing being contemplated out in the open? Expect the EXACT same thing at the national level within Congress and notice the so-called "media" will not ask: "Hey, didn't U campaign on not raising taxes?" or "When did your view of raising taxes change?" So, nothing new here, just Operation Hypocrisy on full display for all to see - or NOT see.

Asitisinaug
4
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Asitisinaug 11/29/10 - 07:11 am
0
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Justus4 you are not so

Justus4 you are not so ignorant or ill informed as to think ANYONE on the Augusta Commission is a Republican. The city of Augusta's politics is 100% democratic hence the disaster it is currently in. Compare Richmond County and their enabled non productive citizens who feed off of the government to Columbia County's productivity and far better services at with much less expense.

The fees are certinaly debatable. However, in addition to the permits these businesses must pay, they also must give the county 3% of alcohol sales and pay for permits from the state and federal government....That is the real problem with government, it just takes more at each and every level. For needs such as public safety, education, infrastructure and national security that is certainly acceptable but for these enabling social progrmas, it is absurd.

bclicious
813
Points
bclicious 11/29/10 - 07:07 am
0
0
I do not really see much

I do not really see much wrong with any new fees associated with Alcohol, but I really think that consumers should be the ones paying the price and not the businesses. Alcohol is a choice and not a necessity.

cubbie
0
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cubbie 11/29/10 - 09:03 am
0
0
Why not double the tax on

Why not double the tax on booze and cigarettes. In the bars and at the stores. Those are the ones that cause the most trouble and the powers that be don't touch them. Wonder why that is.

CJ3
0
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CJ3 11/29/10 - 09:09 am
0
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Finally the commissioners may

Finally the commissioners may be on to something. The adult establishments and other bars are where alot of crimes begin. Oh-and Pizzaguy-they are cutting back-on your safety. Furloughing police, fire department, etc. These "sin" businesses are the ones to take from and the people that frequent them. I am not saying the taxi drivers, etc. should be penalized

Crabby Appleton
0
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Crabby Appleton 11/29/10 - 09:55 am
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Augusta Georgia is NOT

Augusta Georgia is NOT representative of a blue state! It's 60 percent minority and it's local government makeup is democratic to the core. Columbia County on the other hand, definately Red county. Government officials overwelmingly Republican. Notice the difference in the way the two governments operate?

countyman
22762
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countyman 11/29/10 - 10:49 am
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Mayor Deke Copenhaver,

Mayor Deke Copenhaver, sherriff Ronnie Strength, and commissioners Joe Bowles, Joe Jackson, Matt Aitken, Wayne Guilfoyle, Grady Smith, and Jerry Brigham aren't really democratic to the core....

Chillen
17
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Chillen 11/29/10 - 11:03 am
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Cut your expenses instead.

Cut your expenses instead. Stop raising taxes!

countyman
22762
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countyman 11/29/10 - 11:11 am
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I seriously doubt the 10%

I seriously doubt the 10% increase will pass.

But speaking of our local Richmond County government officials..

The Digital Cities Survey, conducted by the Center for Digital Government and Government Technology, measures and assesses the use of information technology by local governments. Augusta is ranked seventh in cities with populations between 125,000–249,000.

http://www.digitalcommunities.com/survey/cities/

http://www2.wjbf.com/news/2010/nov/23/augusta-named-one-top-ranked-munic...

Major props to the city's IT department.

CoastalDawg
125
Points
CoastalDawg 11/29/10 - 11:25 am
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In my opinion, the recent

In my opinion, the recent rout by the Republicans in the election to replace House of Representatives wasn't JUST about Democrats and Republicans; it also spoke out against moves such as these. Right now all the millions of unemployed are having their unemployment run out right at Christmas because Congress hasn't renewed that again - the reason? Democrats are UNWILLING to make cuts in government programs in order to fund new unemployment payments - of course each party blames the other. But obviously it hasn't hit home yet that we the people who are the EMPLOYERS of people with government jobs are demanding that they find ways to CUT taxes - and believe me this is just another form of tax but not so called because politicians think we are too stupid to realize that they are INCREASING taxes once again on a certain portion of the population, which will of course cause those businesses to increase what they CHARGE their customers, thus risking loss of business in a time when we desperately need MORE business. We the people are not the dumb ones - when you receive a "picture" that depicts your own firing because of financial irresponsibility and you continue that, I would say that government is the one that just doesn't get it. Time to clean house and this time CLEAN house; don't leave ANYONE there that has ever voted against the people in any way, shape, or form and believe me this increase is a vote against the will of the people.

augusta citizen
10694
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augusta citizen 11/29/10 - 11:34 am
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CJ3, it doesn't say it's just

CJ3, it doesn't say it's just for alcohol related businesses. It's for all businesses and professionals.

Hatfield0278
1
Points
Hatfield0278 11/29/10 - 11:55 am
0
0
It's been said, but why would

It's been said, but why would anyone think it's a good idea to increase taxes and/or fees on businesses right now? It's the proverbial killing of the goose that lays the golden eggs. This is short-sighted thinking Commissioners. Why not make Richmond County more attractive to people considering starting a business? Why punish those who have already invested in the county? C'mon guys.

laro247
138
Points
laro247 11/29/10 - 12:08 pm
0
0
10% is quite an excessive

10% is quite an excessive increase. The problem is how much government spends. Private business doesn't exist just so government can pillage it.

workedforit
0
Points
workedforit 11/29/10 - 12:34 pm
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Next we cut open the goose
Unpublished

Next we cut open the goose that lays the golden eggs to satisfy the tax greed and then what happens?

smartie
0
Points
smartie 11/29/10 - 01:34 pm
0
0
revolt, people. time to vote

revolt, people. time to vote libertarian. we georgians just had an excellent opportunity to send a message to the rest of the country in our gubernatorial race, but, chose to continue electing crooks.

LaTwon
1
Points
LaTwon 11/29/10 - 01:56 pm
0
0
they can raise them as much

they can raise them as much as they like because no one can sell to get the hell out. trapped in a welfare state suicide pact led by deke obama
and his tax and spend ways. the people on my street are taking turns trying to sell but it seems no new suckers are willing.

follower
159
Points
follower 11/29/10 - 02:31 pm
0
0
They are not taxing

They are not taxing businesses. When the fee is raised on any license, it's reflected in the prices. If it cost a business $500 more, they'll raise the price to cover the increase.

In essence, the consumer always pays any increase of the cost of doing business.

When the lady that sued McDonald's for the hot coffee got paid, the cost of Happy Meals increased. Who lost? If you answered, "everyone", go to the head of the class.

onlysane1left
223
Points
onlysane1left 11/29/10 - 04:21 pm
0
0
Good comment follower. For

Good comment follower. For all of you saying cut the expenses, you say this totally without thinking. Government budgets follow a Newton's motion law principle. If you cut something, there will be a reaction to it. What are you going to cut? The police budget? The correction department budget? The recreation department's budget? Sanitation? Think about what will happen if you have to completely cut one of these services out. Just think also, paying more taxes in would be the alternative....

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 11/29/10 - 04:57 pm
0
0
Everyone needs to give the

Everyone needs to give the commissioners a break. They are just doing their part to help increase inflation.

Southern_Patriot
0
Points
Southern_Patriot 11/29/10 - 05:18 pm
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deke is an obamazombie

deke is an obamazombie

dstewartsr
20394
Points
dstewartsr 11/29/10 - 06:08 pm
0
0
The coy use of the word 'fee'

The coy use of the word 'fee' reflects they know it is a TAX increase, but rather than cut spending, these weasels want to increase 'fees,' without acknowledging what they're doing.

PUPPYMOMMA
1379
Points
PUPPYMOMMA 11/29/10 - 06:33 pm
0
0
I agree with

I agree with pizzaguy/chillen. Cut spending. I've done it in my household and know many others have done the same. Yes, cut sanitation-1 day pickup unless homeowner would like to pay for two. Make recycling mandatory. Cut recreation-it's just that-recreational. If the grass needs cut on the fields-find a volunteer.Every department can cut back on paper costs by using the front and the back of paper. Secure our borders and deport the 480,000 illegals we have in GA. That will lift a load off a lot of departments. Bring back beat cops and use more bicycles/horses for certain beats. Quit spending money that we don't have.

dstewartsr
20394
Points
dstewartsr 11/30/10 - 12:37 am
0
0
"Columbia County ... (r)ed

"Columbia County ... (r)ed county. ... Notice the difference in the way the two governments operate?"

The difference is on solely based on wealth; do not think it is any better run. The population is one the whole better educated and of higher economic status; it is also overwhelmingly white; this means there is no culture of excuse and support for criminals.

As to government efficiency, our population went up less than twenty percent over last decade and a half while spending (depending on whether the Ronald Reagan rulers are touting their accomplishments as taxes collected or spent) has gone up either three hundred percent or five- and yet we are in debt out to about 2015 at the current rate, with less of a reserve than RC. The commissars simply raise the appraisals of property every year to fund their irresponsible spending and make it appear all is well.

It ain't.

I C U 2
0
Points
I C U 2 11/30/10 - 02:58 am
0
0
I hope the local businesses

I hope the local businesses vote right back at them with their feet. Kind of hard to raise taxes on a business that moves away or closes.

Abby-noll
0
Points
Abby-noll 11/30/10 - 09:56 am
0
0
Let's make it just a little

Let's make it just a little more difficult on business right now... this is just what we need. I mean, people are getting afraid to leave their houses anyway, so who cares if they have to close their doors because their taxes keep increasing and their licensing fees keep increasing but their customer base is going down. (please recognize the sarcasm) I hear about cuts and pay freezes... but I've not heard any of the commissioners taking a pay cut or a freeze in pay? What's up with that? How about we stop throwing money away on stupid "studies" and spend it on the important stuff like the safety of Augusta's residents? When things get tight in your household you don't go on shopping sprees instead of paying the electric bill. Prioritize, people!

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