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Augusta to raise taxes in urban, suburban districts

Thursday, Aug 2, 2012 9:32 PM
Last updated 11:16 PM
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The Augusta Commission set the official tax rate Thursday, meaning a tiny tax increase for property owners in the old city limits and a slightly larger one for the rest of the county.

On a $100,000 home, annual property taxes in the old city limits, now known as the “urban services district,” will increase from $590.14 to $591.36, a difference of $1.22 in the city’s portion of Augusta tax bills.

A $100,000 home outside the district and in the incorporated area of Blythe will see its tax bill increase from $366.14 to $385.77, a $19.63 increase in property taxes.

Residents of the district are taxed more because garbage collection is included. Residents outside the district pay a separate fee for mandatory trash pickup.

Both rates are set to increase slightly next year under new contracts up for approval by the commission in coming weeks.

Because the increase is being made to a special fire fund, the commission isn’t required to advertise it as a tax increase, according to City Administrator Fred Russell.

“Why is it so difficult to just charge everybody the same taxes across the county?” Commissioner J.R. Hatney asked Russell at Thursday’s called meeting.

Augusta’s disparate tax system, instituted during consolidation, has been studied by a University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government consultant and others, but finding a fair solution that doesn’t exceed Augusta’s tax cap has been elusive, Russell said.

“We’ve yet to come up with a fair way that accomplishes that,” he said.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham said he didn't expect the arrangement to be fixed until someone files suit or the commission is ordered to do so by the Legislature.

The fire tax increase, imposed to cover a reduction in fire insurance premium revenue from the state, will fund fire service everywhere, not just outside the district.

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Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/02/12 - 10:56 pm
15
1
Two in three days...

On Tuesday, it was the TSPLOST.

Today, it's property taxes.

Oh, it's only a penny here and a fraction of a mill there, but it adds up and it adds up fast.
Are you Taxed Enough Already?

dichotomy
33047
Points
dichotomy 08/02/12 - 10:59 pm
14
1
Boys, we snuck TSPLOST by the

Boys, we snuck TSPLOST by the fools so lets get busy raising all the rest of the taxes and garbage fees and cutting their service. Especially them "rural" residents. They don't go along with the program like our downtown patsies.

And apparently our illustrious commissioners know this discriminatory, two tiered tax system is wrong, but they never do anything about it. Hatney asked the question and then let Russell off the hook when he said "it's too hard". And Brigham.....well he knows it wrong but instead of trying to fix it he will just go along with the program unless somebody sues or the legislature magically decides to fix this on their own. WHY DON"T THE COMMISSIONERS GET OUR ILLUSTRIOUS STATE LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION TO FIX THIS? Why aren't OUR commissioners....you know.....the ones that represent the RURAL residents.....making this an issue at EVERY commission meeting? Or is it easier on them to just keep screwing the rural residents and blaming on something that happened 17 years ago. It was WRONG THEN and it is WRONG NOW.

Call your commissioner and tell them you want this discrimination stopped. Every time you see Guilfoyle, and Mason, and Jackson, and Brigham, and Smith, and the rest of them for that matter, get in their face and ask them why the hell aren't they doing something about this.
Call Russell's office like 100 times a day and make his life miserable. Maybe we can make finding a solution seem easier than getting all of those calls and having belligerent face to face confrontations.

Get off your butts South Augusta. You're getting screwed and you have the right to make a little noise and bite and scratch.

rebellious
20780
Points
rebellious 08/03/12 - 12:36 am
9
2
If Anything

The suburban and rural areas should pay lower taxes than the old city, and maybe they do. But for the increase to be greater in one area than another, when redevelopment dollars are being dumped into the city faster than a drunken sailor can spend a paycheck, I mean [filtered word]? And on top of that, we have taxation without representation. The 8th district commissioner spends more time downtime eating breakfast than he does with his constituency. Kroc Center, Tee Center, St Sebastion Flyover, Riverwalk, Amphitheater, let's see what else we can spend our money on downtown. The dumb masses in South Augusta will pay the tab. Meanwhile, our 2 commissioners are mum. Makes me sick to my stomach.

Oh and how much is slightly more than a tiny bit.

scgator
1042
Points
scgator 08/03/12 - 03:53 am
8
1
EXACTLY why I moved out of

EXACTLY why I moved out of Richmond County 17 years ago; my late father-in-law, Councilman James P. Tarver told me this was not good for Augusta's people. You will see "more taxes, less services and the commission begin to "distance" themselves from the voters."..........dang, if he wasn't right!
..........been in South Carolina now, for 17 years, lower taxes, lower utility bills, and the "services" are still the same as 17 years ago. I don't do ANY shopping in Augusta at all..............so, Augusta does not make a "nickel" from me anymore. And yes, I do like Augusta, but, there is ZERO incentive to move back.

jmo
16022
Points
jmo 08/03/12 - 05:12 am
11
1
Two In One

Two tax increases in one week. But, as long as the increase is small that makes it "OK". (lol) And the hits just keep on coming.

FLIPPED OUT
33
Points
FLIPPED OUT 08/03/12 - 05:48 am
4
0
Just a wee bit.

it's not much, just a small amount. It's only a small amount.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/07/12 - 05:12 am
8
0
Consolidated, but not Equal

there lays the issue.

seenitB4
87395
Points
seenitB4 08/03/12 - 07:29 am
3
0
Rebellious & Opencurtain

You hit the bullseye.....great posts!

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/03/12 - 07:52 am
7
0
@F4therTime... Google Augusta

@F4therTime...

Google Augusta Procurement Department and lawsuits.

Also, look up the article written by Sandy Hodson about the money wasted by not going with the low bid.

Augusta does it own thing, regardless of the costs or the courts.

Riverman1
84141
Points
Riverman1 08/03/12 - 08:03 am
5
2
"Spreading the Wealth: How

"Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities" by Stanley Kurtz. Read that and tell me you can be conservative and promote these schemes to move money from the suburbs downtown.

countyman
20144
Points
countyman 08/03/12 - 08:29 am
1
4
The Kroc Center was paid for

The Kroc Center was paid for with private funds, and DOT built the Saint Sebastian(planned for years in advance)...

The Riverwalk, Broad street, Marriotts, etc are located in the CBD... Why would you build the TEE somewhere else??

They're building a $20 million vocational high school in South Augusta next to Augusta Tech.... If you want to bring up the Saint Sebastian then DOT is spending millions widening I-520(Gordon Hwy to Deans Bridge)...

Stop trying to make everything South Augusta vs downtown... The city is spending $3.5 million for the lake near Regency Mall... I don't see anybody telling them to spend money in East Augusta, West Augusta, Summerville, etc..

Wayne guilfoyle
162
Points
Wayne guilfoyle 08/03/12 - 08:32 am
4
3
millage rate

dichotomy, FYI-I voted against this.

joebowles
104
Points
joebowles 08/03/12 - 09:01 am
5
2
Rebellious & dichotomy

Wayne and I asked these questions about the Two millage rates, and We are trying to do something about that. That's why we VOTED AGAINST this tax.
Instead of complaining, come to the meetings and see what is actually going on rather than depending on the newspaper to give you the full story.

dichotomy
33047
Points
dichotomy 08/03/12 - 10:32 am
6
2
Commissioner Guilfoyle

"dichotomy, FYI-I voted against this."

Thank you for coming on here telling us that. We need more public interface with our representative. Many of the people of the 8th District feel that we are over taxed, over charged for garbage service, and short changed on "redevelopment" investment, police protection, road maintenance, and other services. I invite you to come on here frequently to not only tell us how you voted on an issue, but to do some "before the vote" discussion of upcoming votes that affect our District, our wallets, and where the "City" of Augusta is spending our "County" of Richmond tax dollars.

When there is an upcoming vote on a tax increase of ANY kind I never again want to hear Fred saying "we didn't advertise it because we didn't have to". That was a cowardly way to do business and you can bet that you, the rest of the commissioners that represent "rural" residents, and Fred "what me worry" Russell would have gotten an ear full if it had been known ahead of time that the proposal was to put the total increase in fire taxes on the rural residents.

And oh yeh, how did Grady "tax'em and garbage fee'em some more" Smith vote on this thing? District 8 needs to take a hard look the next time they vote for the District 10 "at large" commissioner's seat. The only thing Grady Smith is "at large" about is YOUR TAX and GARBAGE FEE money.

Wayne guilfoyle
162
Points
Wayne guilfoyle 08/03/12 - 10:27 am
0
0
double post

double post

Wayne guilfoyle
162
Points
Wayne guilfoyle 08/03/12 - 10:20 am
1
0
dichotomy

I hear you saying that District 8 needs more interface with the representative. I have people from District 8 as well as from other districts calling me all the time, either with problems that needs addressing or community concerns. And I do not have a problem with that what so ever, this is what I sign up to do. As a taxpayer too and I do not care for Goverment interference to private citizens. I do have much time to blog, due to running my buisness or doing my civic duty. If you have concerns or a problem contact me at 706-399-4060, this is my personal cell, and no I do not use a goverment phone. Thank You Commission Wayne Guilfoyle

jamc1103
141
Points
jamc1103 08/03/12 - 10:24 am
5
0
Consolidated gov't?

How can different parts of the county have different tax rates if the government is consolidated? I thought that rid us of the "city limits".

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 08/03/12 - 10:50 am
3
0
i wonder if Fred'll say that

i wonder if Fred'll say that we didn't raise taxes again this year

Riverman1
84141
Points
Riverman1 08/03/12 - 10:55 am
4
0
"The Kroc Center was paid for

"The Kroc Center was paid for with private funds, and DOT built the Saint Sebastian(planned for years in advance)...

The Riverwalk, Broad street, Marriotts, etc are located in the CBD... Why would you build the TEE somewhere else??"

The Kroc Center had to be built in a poorer area, I'll give you that, but to be accurate, it was built with charitable funds, much of it donated by people living out of the city. As far as having to locate the TEE next to the Marriott, you are telling the truth whether you realize it or not.

dichotomy
33047
Points
dichotomy 08/03/12 - 10:55 am
5
0
"How can different parts of

"How can different parts of the county have different tax rates if the government is consolidated?"

Consolidation was nothing more than a word on a document that the gullible rural taxpayers in Richmond County fell for hook, line, and sinker. The ONLY thing that was consolidated was OUR tax dollars and the power to spend them. Those got consolidated DOWNTOWN under the power of the downtown commissioners, who outnumber us due to population density and racial sympathy votes from some of the the commissioners who are supposed to be representing rural South Augusta, and under the same old movers and shakers money men who have always run downtown Augusta. The former COUNTY residents got a distinctly discriminatory, separate tax structure, service struture, and TOTAL loss of say so on how and where their tax dollars are spent. Anyone who ever thinks that we are "consolidated" is a fool. This would have been more correctly labeled an adoption. We rural taxpayers adopted the "old city" and assumed financial responsibility for the it's care and feeding at the expense of sacrificing South Augusta and rural South Richmond County to deterioration, crime, fleeing retail and restaurants, and general decay. Meanwhile, the "City" of Augusta continues to raise our taxes and tell us that everthing is hunky dory. We did not have a Consolidation. We went through a Hostile Takeover.

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 08/03/12 - 11:39 am
4
0
here's your wow factor

Dr. Azziz said Augusta doesn't have a wow factor. He needs to attend the circus downtown.

rebellious
20780
Points
rebellious 08/03/12 - 11:46 am
3
0
Charter

Not sure if this is the most current version of the charter. But I would like a tax discount for not receivivg street sweeping, beautification, parks, etc.... I am sure you posters on here can come up with more services downtown receives that the Rural areas don't.

21- 5 (d) Any special services district existing in Richmond
21- 6 County or any municipality consolidated with such county
21- 7 prior to January 1, 1996, shall continue to exist until it
21- 8 is modified or abolished by the commission-council.

21- 9 (e) In assessing ad valorem taxes, the commission-council
21-10 shall assess within any Urban Services District such
21-11 additional millage as the governing body shall determine,
21-12 and which shall be imposed on account of governmental
21-13 services available therein that are not furnished in the
21-14 Suburban Services District. As the commission-council shall
21-15 from time to time expand these governmental services to
21-16 areas within the Suburban Services District, such areas
21-17 shall be included in such Urban Services District and taxed
21-18 accordingly.

21-19 (f) For purposes of this section, governmental services
21-20 shall include fire protection of a higher class, garbage
21-21 pickup, governmental water and sewer services, and such
21-22 other services as may be provided only in an Urban Services
21-23 District.

21-24 (g)(1) The commission-council may further divide the
21-25 Suburban Services District into special service
21-26 districts wherever additional governmental service or
21-27 services are furnished but not to the extent as in an
21-28 Urban Services District. Property within said special
21-29 service districts shall be assessed with such additional
21-30 ad valorem taxes as the commission-council may determine
21-31 on account of said services.

21-32 (2) Property owners within an Urban Services District
21-33 and the Suburban Services District shall not be
21-34 obligated to pay any user fees for services they do not
21-35 receive.

21-36 (h) It is the purpose of this section that property shall be
21-37 subject to taxation in relation to services received.

21-38 (i) Without limiting any of the foregoing provisions of this
21-39 section, on and after January 1, 1996, the residential,
21-40 commercial, and industrial rates charged for water and
21-41 sewerage services shall be the same within an Urban Services
21-42 District as within the Suburban Services District.

rebellious
20780
Points
rebellious 08/03/12 - 11:58 am
3
0
Joe Bowles

Joe,this article by Susan McCord (07/24/2012) validates your objection. It does not, however, clarify whether you want to raise the suburban rates to match the Urban rates or exactly what you would propose to achieve a tax based on services received and reflecting parity for RC landowners.

"Raising taxes on part of the city for services delivered citywide reminded Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles of the disparity that still exists in the city’s tax system more than 15 years after consolidation.

Though he voted for the tax increase, Bowles called the system “illegal” and said he might file a lawsuit Jan. 4 after leaving office to compel the city to even it out.

Residents in the old city, now less than a third of Augusta’s residents, pay for trash pickup, fire protection and other services by two mill rates, a general fund millage and an urban services millage, which add up to 16.896 mills.

Residents living outside the old city limits pay the general fund millage and the fire tax millage that the commission raised to 2.152 mills, plus a separate fee for trash pickup."

rebellious
20780
Points
rebellious 08/03/12 - 12:15 pm
2
0
Thanks Steve Crawford

This is from an article in 2007,but the problem still exists. The numbers may be more equitable today, or not.

"Urban district property owners also pay:

URBAN TAX: Funds law enforcement, fire protection, street lights, trash service and other things in the old city area

CITY TRASH FEE: Flat $81 fee that pays for a portion of city trash service

Suburban district property owners also pay:

FIRE PROTECTION TAX: Funds suburban fire service

CITY TRASH FEE: A flat $276 to property owners with city trash service

STREET LIGHTS FEE: Fee based on $45 per 100 feet of street frontage

The effect of the tax system is that properties with the same value in different districts have much different tax bills. The reason is the property tax bill mixes tax rates, which are dependant on the value of the property, with fees, which are not. The biggest problems are associated with the way the city funds trash service.

PROBLEMS

IT'S INEQUITABLE. People pay different rates for the same service, depending on where they live and how much their house is worth. More than 90 percent of urban property owners pay less than their suburban counterparts.

IT'S UNFAIR. All property owners in the urban district subsidize trash service (whether they have the service or not). In the suburban area, only users pay, and they pay proportionally based on the number of cans.

IT'S ERROR PRONE. The tax commissioner's office issued more than 2,000 refunds in the past two years to property owners mistakenly billed for trash service.

IT'S UNDERFUNDED. The service fund was $4 million in the red by 2005, primarily because of years without a rate increase.

CASH FLOW IS SLOW. Because trash service is funded through property taxes paid at the end of the year, most of the year the service operates through loans from the city's General Fund.

ESCROW PROBLEMS. When officials added new trash fees to tax bills it created havoc with escrow accounts and caused increases to monthly house payments. Some banks balked at paying the fees at all. Any future fee increases could have similar effects."

joebowles
104
Points
joebowles 08/03/12 - 12:54 pm
3
1
F4

This is what I will do because I have been telling staff and my fellow commissioners this is illegal for the 6.5 years I have been in office.
You can compare me to whoever you want...

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/07/12 - 05:13 am
4
0
Riverman1
84141
Points
Riverman1 08/03/12 - 02:13 pm
2
0
I wouldn't be comparing Joe

I wouldn't be comparing Joe Bowles to Marion Williams.

countyman
20144
Points
countyman 08/03/12 - 10:20 pm
1
2
The Kroc Center of Augusta

The Kroc Center of Augusta had to follow the rules... Located in a diverse neighborhood, certain amount of poverty, high visibility(Broad street), close proximity to richer areas(Summerville, CBD, Waters Edge), and be able to improve the surrounding area in the future(Cookout:new restaurant coming to 1801 Walton Way: empty lot at Crawford/Walton Way intersection and Walmart neighborhood Market/other amenities on 15th street).. Harrisburg is the only neighborhood who fit the criteria... The Kroc Center is located outside of the CBD anyway...

The Sheraton and DoubleTree are both nice hotels, but there's nothing for tourist to experience in West Augusta.. Unless they want to take pictures of the Augusta National.

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