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Augusta Commission rolls back taxes

Digest growth could lead to cut in furlough days

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A tax digest that grew by $51.3 million prompted Augusta commissioners to roll back taxes by 0.1 percent Tuesday.

The commission unanimously agreed to advertise the new lowered rate of 8.056 mills, down from the 8.149 mills Augusta has levied since 2007.

"Based on the fact that we've been experiencing the worst recession we've seen, to roll it back even a small portion this year speaks to the great job this body is doing," Mayor Deke Copenhaver said.

The decrease amounts to a savings of $7.44 on the tax bill for a $200,000 house, but many south Augusta homeowners who saw their assessed values increase earlier this year will not see the reduction.

The commission also heard positive news from auditor Bonnie Cox of Cherry, Bekaert and Holland. Cox noted that the fiscal year 2009 audit was "clean," with no reportable findings.

Among the discrepancies the firm did find were $30,000 drawn off a federal grant for Daniel Field that should have been paid with local or state money and missing procurement documents in an $84,000 purchase of bus engines, Cox said.

Augusta's reserves are beginning to recover from the $10 million transaction the city made in 2008 allowing Medical College of Georgia to acquire the Gilbert Manor housing project property for an expansion.

The general fund reserve balance is nearing 2007 levels of about $30 million, leaving the city with 85 days of operating cash, Cox said.

Augusta continues to spend about 46 percent of its budget on public safety and 18 percent on general government while "other" is down, from 12 percent in 2008 to 8 percent in 2009, according to a chart Cox presented.

"From an accounting perspective, we are on strong footing financially?" Copenhaver queried.

"Better than last year," Cox said.

The news prompted Administrator Fred Russell to recommend designating $400,000 toward covering expenses for two of four furlough days scheduled later this year.

Commissioner J.R. Hatney asked whether the amount lost to the rollback would cover the two additional furlough days.

"We need to find those dollars someplace else," said Russell, who said he had no source in mind Tuesday.

Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Mason said eliminating the two days was "probably the fairest way. I'm happy to see that we're in this particular position."

The growth in the digest took place in real and personal property, which increased by $63.5 million from 2009 to 2010, and in timber.

Augusta's taxable motor vehicles decreased in value by some $32 million. Mobile homes on the digest went down by $3 million, and heavy equipment decreased by $160,000.

The commission's actions Tuesday took place during the first meeting streamed live online at www.augustaga.gov.

Approximately 65 people stopped by to watch the live stream, Assistant Information Technology Director Mike Blanchard said.

The streamed meetings will be archived on the site, Blanchard said.

In other action

The Augusta Commission:

- Agreed to hire Alveno Ross as chief appraiser. Like his predecessor Calvin Hicks, Ross is under a three-year contract. He will be paid $90,000 annually and receive a $5,000 car allowance and $5,000 moving expenses.

- Authorized a promotion and pay increase for city attorney Wayne Brown, with Commissioner Jerry Brigham voting no and Joe Bowles, Jimmy Smith and Don Grantham out. Brown was promoted to senior staff attorney and saw his salary increase to $114,494, a rise of more than $20,000.

Comments (17) Add comment
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countyman
21687
Points
countyman 07/21/10 - 01:23 am
0
0
Let's continue to build this

Let's continue to build this city up... This way we can continue to cut taxes and offer better services....

countyman
21687
Points
countyman 07/21/10 - 02:07 am
0
0
Jimmy Smith, Don Gratham, and

Jimmy Smith, Don Gratham, and Jerry Brigham are almost gone... The time is now to reach our full potential...

corgimom
38741
Points
corgimom 07/21/10 - 02:37 am
0
0
"The decrease amounts to a

"The decrease amounts to a savings of $7.44 on the tax bill for a $200,000 house"

Now that is downright funny. Taxpayers, don't spend it all in one place.

countyman
21687
Points
countyman 07/21/10 - 02:48 am
0
0
A decrease is still better

A decrease is still better compared to staying the same or a increase.... Once again this proves Augusta is doing better than most cities.. Brookings metro monitor ranked Augusta the 7th best economy in the united states...

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 07/21/10 - 03:07 am
0
0
countyman, You must be kin to
Unpublished

countyman, You must be kin to fred russell or someone other tax and spend nut. This is a joke, take the tax decrease and shove it where the sun don't shine! You noticed that fred immediately wanted to spend it.
The voters need to throw all the bums out and elect all new people. My
suggestion would be to elect all newcomers to politics and elect a new
mayor with some real concern about the economy and the taxpayers
that pay the bills, and not hire any personnel especially at 90,000. or
give out 20,000. raises while the ones who pay the bills have to work
two jobs just to make ends meet. Fire fed russell and throw out the
bums running for reelection.

Bushmaster
0
Points
Bushmaster 07/21/10 - 04:43 am
0
0
Here we go again, the people

Here we go again, the people of south Augusta who had their home values increase, including mine, will not see any of this great benefit of a possible $3.50 reduction in my taxes. What a joke! Fred Russell is an absolute joke and an embarrasment to our community. Luckily I am still employeed and absorbed the home value increase, but there are a lot of homeowners in south Augusta who are retired and cannot afford the property value increase on their fixed incomes. South Augusta has supported the Richmond county community for years but cannot get over the stigma of being the community dregs thought of by many others because we do live in the (socially acceptable parts) areas of the county.

AWyld1
3
Points
AWyld1 07/21/10 - 07:31 am
0
0
Oh yeah what a decrease....I

Oh yeah what a decrease....I get no relief after having my taxes go up 700 dollars in 5 years and I get screwed into "buying" the county's trash service that is twice what i was paying to a private hauler and I get the luxury of when I call the police slow or no response to my house....Yeah countyman it's going up alright....in flames!!!

datarelease
2
Points
datarelease 07/21/10 - 09:38 am
0
0
Hey south augusta ain't so

Hey south augusta ain't so bad!
I mean, its the only place i've ever been robbed at gunpoint, but it's also where I learned that the rich inspire the poor...to rob people!
Other lessons: 1. Black guys are strong. 2. Black eyes hurt. 3. School doesn't matter (i'm a college grad) 4. Drugs are bad, mmmkay. 5. You can command respect with a car plastered in logos advertising your favorite candy bar. 6. The stains won't come out. 7. They're coming your way.

On a side note, check out Wat Santidham off Old Waynesboro road; most peaceful people i've ever had the pleasure to visit.

corgimom
38741
Points
corgimom 07/21/10 - 10:20 am
0
0
Only Countyman would think a

Only Countyman would think a $3.72 decrease on a tax bill per $100,000 would be indicative of progress.

Countyman, it's an insult. Do you not understand that? And for people that had their house reassessed- which is most people- didn't get a decrease at all.

And you consider that progress?

countyman
21687
Points
countyman 07/21/10 - 10:34 am
0
0
Corgimom, according to you

Corgimom, according to you Augusta is in serious financial difficulties... How could we managed to even roll back taxes at all?

Cities are raising taxes, furloughing teachers, and cutting teaching positions... While Augusta is cutting taxes, taking away two of it's furlough days, and hasn't fired any teachers.... Some people will complain about anything... And the article said some people in South Augusta wouldn't see a decrease this year... 2011 is only a couple of months a away...

dichotomy
37618
Points
dichotomy 07/21/10 - 11:34 am
0
0
Don't let them tell you this

Don't let them tell you this lie. They did not decrease taxes. Hell they just raised the valuations on a bunch of people's properties, particularly in south Richmond county. Where do you think the "increase in the tax digest" came from. Property tax consists of two things, millage rate and taxable valuation. The commissioners and the administrator tell the crooked TAX Commissioner to raise property valuations so that they can cut the millage rate and tell us we had a TAX CUT when, in fact, we had a HUGE TAX INCREASE with no supporting facts that the value of the property had gone up. They just raised the taxable valuation so their almost ZERO millage rate cut still amounts to a huge tax increase because of the much higher valuation increase......when we all know that NOBODY"S house has gone up in value in the past three or four yeas. But I have had THREE (3) valuation increases in the past four (4) years. Tax decrease my hind end. And the ONLY reason they can come up with for raising our property valuations out here is that the CROOKED PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION arbitrarily and illegally rezoned 7000 acres of empty farmland and forest from Agricultural to RESIDENTIAL and that allowed the CROOOKED TAX COMMISSIONER to increase the tax valuation. And now the commission is working on a "study" to DISCOURAGE development in the area THEY REZONED RESIDENTIAL. TAX CUT my butt. Again they just pee'd on your head and told you it was a spring rain and you are buying it hook, line, and sinker. When you get this years tax bill, you take a good look at the AMOUNT DUE and see if it is lower than last year's. It won't be because THEY INCREASED YOUR TAXES ON THE VALUATION SIDE SO THEY COULD SLIGHTLY LOWER THE MILLEGE RATE AND ANNOUNCE, IN AN ELECTION YEAR, THAT THEY DECREASED YOUR TAXES. They raised your valuations, they raised your garbage collection fee, and made a negligible decrease in the millege rate. Check your AMOUNT DUE. It will not be LESS or even the same. It's a system that is stacked against you and you lose every time, even if you think it's a spring rain. Read this article carefully. "Agreed to hire Alveno Ross as chief appraiser". The chief appraiser, WHO RAISES YOUR PROPERTY VALUATIONS, is hired and fired by the COMMISSION and they raise your property values when the commission needs to collect more money and still be able to hide from the charges of raising the millage rate. WE NEED AN INDEPENDENT, ELECTED CHIEF APPRAISER, not an appraiser that is under the thumb of our crooked commission. The commissioners did NOT "ROLL BACK TAXES". They just "BOWLED YOU OVER WITH BS". Hold up your PROPERTY TAX VALUATIONS south Richmond county. Show them that you are beginning to understand how they are using the double jeopardy property tax system to steal from you and lie to you.

baronvonreich
1
Points
baronvonreich 07/21/10 - 12:18 pm
0
0
bushmaster - if retired

bushmaster - if retired people can't afford to live on their "fixed incomes" then they shouldn't have retired, need to get a job, or should have saved more money before they retired. Old people aren't any more special than anybody else.

dichotomy
37618
Points
dichotomy 07/21/10 - 01:05 pm
0
0
Old folks are special in the

Old folks are special in the respect that they have passed the age at which they could reasonably expect to find a job or be physically able to go to work regularly. And they certainly should not be TAXED out of their homes by artificial double jeopardy property tax valuation raises in years when the value of their property was either falling, or unsellable because of the market. Oww, the value went up and the millage rate went down. Oww, the value stayed the same but the millage rate went up. Ouch, the value went up AND the millage rate went up. OWWW BULLCRAP, it's all a scam. There ought to be a law that obligates the city/county to buy any property for the amount of the tax valuation if the owner disagrees with the valuation and wants to sell. And anyone age 62 or older should get their property tax frozen for as long as they own that property and live there as their primary residence.

TrulyWorried
16708
Points
TrulyWorried 07/21/10 - 03:58 pm
0
0
baronvonreich (what a

baronvonreich (what a statement) you must not belong to the "old people" yet - wait until you get there! Easier said than done - save and then you will have in your old age. All people are not that fortunate and only one that has been there, done that, can make such a comment. Your moronic opinion overwhelms me - By the way - I am retired!

teapot
0
Points
teapot 07/21/10 - 05:15 pm
0
0
WOW, A WHOLE ONE-TENTH OF ONE

WOW, A WHOLE ONE-TENTH OF ONE PER CENT!!!! WOW.

AWyld1
3
Points
AWyld1 07/21/10 - 06:20 pm
0
0
dichotomy hit the nail on the

dichotomy hit the nail on the head. You cannot increase property values, raise the tax rate 300% give us 7 dollars back and say that it is a tax decrease. Where did these commisioners go to school? Wait...judging by the recent AYP of ARC schools I think I answered my own question.....

corgimom
38741
Points
corgimom 07/21/10 - 10:27 pm
0
0
"How could we managed to even

"How could we managed to even roll back taxes at all?"
Only countyman could consider a $3.74 decrease as rolling back taxes- when most people didn't even receive that.

Countyman, do you understand the concept of a tax digest? When you raise the tax digest, you can roll back the millage rate, and people will wind up PAYING MORE TAXES.

Don't you understand that?

baronvonreich
1
Points
baronvonreich 07/21/10 - 10:38 pm
0
0
Richmond County sounds like

Richmond County sounds like the new WalMart of America......Rolling Back Taxes! Richmond County.....your low price leader! Richmond County.....Save Money Live Better!

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