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Restaurant fee increase on table

Owners say patrons will be hurt the most

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Augusta restaurateurs aren't going to let a 10 percent rise in city licensing fees slip by unnoticed.

The across-the-board increases in alcohol licensing fees, occupational taxes and other administrative and regulatory fees go before Augusta commissioners today for approval, but only after a 4 p.m. public hearing.

The move chafes Barry Blackston, owner of downtown's Blue Sky Kitchen and Nacho Mama's restaurants and co-owner of Stillwater Taproom.

"The worst thing about the whole situation is that they wait literally a week before the bills are going out," Blackston said.

The increases, which go into effect immediately if passed, will raise the cost of an annual license to serve beer, wine and mixed drinks on premises from $3,850 to $4,235. The price to serve on Sunday, currently $1,100, goes up to $1,210.

As the city searches for revenue to fill a $9 million deficit in the 2011 budget, the increases are projected to generate only $330,000.

If commissioners approve them today, Takosushi and catering business owner Kevin Goldsmith said, restaurants will pass the extra cost on to their customers.

"They're hitting the entire Richmond County, not just the restaurant people," Goldsmith said. "These are rough times, and we're lucky to have the restaurants that we have."

The increases may even push less-established eateries under and prompt others to drop their mixed-drink licenses and simply serve beer and wine, he said.

The proposed changes also apply to regulatory fees levied on entertainment venues, taxicabs and limousine drivers and business and professional taxes based on gross receipts.

A proponent of the increases, Commissioner Don Grantham said Augusta hadn't raised the fees in four years and, in a tough budget year, has little choice.

"Nothing's free anymore in government," said Grantham, a business owner who's had to cut expenses himself lately and whose taxes will go up a few hundred dollars if the increases pass.

And unlike homeowners, businesses can pass the budget of the increases on to customers, he said.

"This way, like a sales tax, everybody pays," he said.

Grantham, finishing his second consecutive term as Super District 10 commissioner, is term-limited. He expects the increase to pass but said that if six commissioners can't agree on something today, the decision might carry over to a called meeting later in the month.

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InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 12/07/10 - 06:18 am
0
0
I understand that business

I understand that business owners like to keep cost down and no one likes taxes raised but if you do the math the combined cost for both mixed drink, beer, and wine and the cost for Sunday service is only $485 a year, that's about $10 a week. If cost is spread over all your customers for that week doesn't seem like a big deal to me.

ReformedRepub
0
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ReformedRepub 12/07/10 - 07:24 am
0
0
I want to know what Augusta's

I want to know what Augusta's administrators and Commissioners are doing for their part to reduce costs? How many days are the upper level guys getting furloughed? We already know that one Commissioner doesn't care and has taken a taxpayer funded trip. I'm sure Deke has in mind to waste more of our money with another "study" to see how he can enrich himself....

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 12/07/10 - 08:03 am
0
0
everyone don't you get it by
Unpublished

everyone don't you get it by now!!!!! when the "wonderful" TEE CENTER is completed the sky will open doves will fly down and millions and millions of dollars will magically flow into the coffers of rich cnty, with millions and millions of people flocking to visit the TEE CENTER to attend the thousands of conventions that will be occurring...BTW hey joe did the developer(from sc) break ground on his new hotel yet???????

justfred
0
Points
justfred 12/07/10 - 08:24 am
0
0
I'm no fan of increased taxes

I'm no fan of increased taxes but....Augusta has got to find money somewhere. Fundamental govt services may soon disappear. Augusta needs more police and other first responder s and they ain't free. Augusta has a reputation of being lawless, poorly educated and filthy. Even at Masters time the dirt is beginning to shine through.

LaTwon
1
Points
LaTwon 12/07/10 - 08:45 am
0
0
and the death spiral

and the death spiral continues...............

bettyboop
8
Points
bettyboop 12/07/10 - 08:47 am
0
0
Don't like it?....Don't eat

Don't like it?....Don't eat out...pretty simple.

Hatfield0278
1
Points
Hatfield0278 12/07/10 - 09:19 am
0
0
With all due-respect

With all due-respect Commissioner Grantham, nothing ever was free in government. This is another of those too revealing off-the-cuff remarks. I'd be willing to bet that we have plenty of room for cuts in the consolidated budget outside of the Sheriff's Department.

cmfjhf@comcast.net
0
Points
cmfjhf@comcast.net 12/07/10 - 09:23 am
0
0
In Response to the First

In Response to the First comment on the price-It's $5445.00 A Year for a Beer, Wine, Liquor & Sunday Sales License & when you are only making pennies on the dollar if that these days that increase could mean staying open or closing down.

laro247
132
Points
laro247 12/07/10 - 10:12 am
0
0
yes and when they pass that

yes and when they pass that tax on to customers, customers can elect to go to another county and eat or stay at home. Great thinking by government people who think the sole purpose of private business is to support government.

Brad Owens
4914
Points
Brad Owens 12/07/10 - 12:31 pm
0
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InChristLove, How about we

InChristLove,

How about we charge churches property taxes? You all for that? Seems you support everyone paying thier part so why not churches too?

Just think of it, if we just charged the churches for the LAND only at the current rates, we would make up that 9mil super quick.

Oh by the way, why are churches not taxed?

Brad

Chuck Odom
273
Points
Chuck Odom 12/07/10 - 01:56 pm
0
0
Many small businesses are

Many small businesses are already at or near the maximum price their customers are able/willing to pay. Therefore they will not be able to pass the increased fee on to their customers. Their only option is to take the increased cost out of their profits which in the case of many small business (especially those just starting out) is very low or non-existent. So, in the long run this increase could reduce the county's revenue by putting people out of business and losing the sales tax those businesses are collecting and paying.

Chuck Odom
273
Points
Chuck Odom 12/07/10 - 02:01 pm
0
0
The thing about churches that

The thing about churches that has always made me go "Hmmmm" is the fact that you cannot legally open a business that sells alcohol within 100 yards of a church. But, a church can legally open right next door (or across the street) from a place that sells alcohol. Where is the equal treatment under the law in that?

staind620
1
Points
staind620 12/07/10 - 02:21 pm
0
0
Sounds like more businesses

Sounds like more businesses are going to look into opening in Columbia County rather than Richmond.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 12/07/10 - 02:40 pm
0
0
If they raise the fee's on

If they raise the fee's on restaurants and that gets passed on to me, I'll just eat in Columbia County. We've got plenty of good choices over here.

Here's a novel idea. Cut your expenses instead of raising taxes!!!!

Sweet son
11727
Points
Sweet son 12/07/10 - 04:11 pm
0
0
Mr. Fred and County

Mr. Fred and County Commissioners you need to lose some "fat" from "your govnment". And I call it your government because it is all about you fat cats and your interests. Get rid of the dead beats and if it takes it, add more furlough days. We are tired of all of the increases with no concessions on your part. We never see any increase in services and no improvements. IT IS TIME YOU SWEPT AROUND YOUR OWN DOOR STEP!!!!!

follower
98
Points
follower 12/07/10 - 04:50 pm
0
0
Brad Owens, let's assume that

Brad Owens, let's assume that a church like First Baptist in Augusta paid property tax, would you agree it would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $100K per year? I base that on what Lowes on Bobby Jones pays, which is roughly $80K per year.

A recent article revealed this church [not where I attend]
supported dozens of charitable efforts locally to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. By taxing the church and putting more money in the hands of an inept government, do you think they will get more out of the money than area churches that determine needs on a very personal level? The people that turn to churches in times of need are now forced to depend on government even more.

It's doubtful any government will be as careful with funds as local churches. The only thing accomplished would be to give them more money to waste, and the churches would have less to give.

Raising more money is not the problem. Operating in a frugal manner is.

Chillen and sweetson said it well. Cut expenses. It's what we have to do in businesses, as well as at home.

mooseye
276
Points
mooseye 12/07/10 - 07:36 pm
0
0
Chuck beat me to it as far as

Chuck beat me to it as far as loosing capital by loosing businesses.
And I think it has been proven before that you can tax yourself out of a job.

MichaelInSC
0
Points
MichaelInSC 12/07/10 - 10:50 pm
0
0
I'm glad some folks are

I'm glad some folks are opposing this increased theft, which is all taxes are. I'm a South Carolinian so it won't be my money they are stealing but I'm always happy when folks stand up to government bullying and theft. All the jokes about politicians lying and stealing and such are all true - for both parties. They are the worst people in the world and when they vote to take more money from people and distribute as they see fit they only prove the suspicions we had against them all along.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 12/08/10 - 06:31 am
0
0
Brad, taxing the churches

Brad, taxing the churches isn't going to help in the long run because government will just end up wasting the revenue and then who will they turn to next. To be honest, it doesn't matter to me either way. I will still support my church with my offerings and I serve a mighty God so he'll be the one providing what we need to help the community and keep the church alive.

As for cmfjhf@comcast.net, if my calculations are correct, I stand by my earlier comment. Original fee $3850, increase $4235, difference of $385. Sunday fee $1100, increase $1210, difference $110. Total increase $385 + $110 = $495. Divide by 52 weeks = $9.50 per week. If cost is spread over all you customers for the week then in my opinion this seems minor. No one likes tax increases but I do believe just a few weeks ago when the tax on cigarettes were mentioned, everyone commented how they thought it was a grand idea.....now when we are talking about beer and alchohol, suddenly it's hitting too close to home.

I understand that small business are going to take a hit and I'd prefer they didn't raise taxes on anything but government is going to get their money.....the question is....who are they going to hit next.

libertarianvoter
0
Points
libertarianvoter 12/08/10 - 10:16 am
0
0
Why not regulate spending and

Why not regulate spending and force churches to pay taxes. That would be an ideal world huh?

As far as this issue, "This way, like a sales tax, everybody pays." I like that kind of thinking rather than only take money away from anyone who has a job.

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