Sales tax collections down in Augusta for third month

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Sales tax revenue paid to Augusta-Richmond County dropped for a third straight month in September compared with the previous year, making some officials worry that consumers are abandoning the city for retailers in neighboring counties.

According to data from the city finance office, special purpose local option sales tax collections were down $182,759, or 5.84 percent, and local option sales tax revenue was down $204,320, or 6.68 percent, from September 2011. In July and August, sales tax collections dropped 7.9 and 1 percent, respectively, compared to a year ago.

The news left city officials looking for answers, particularly in light of increases in sales tax revenue distributed by the state Department of Re­venue to Columbia and Burke counties for the month.

“Everybody else went up, and ours went down,” City Administrator Fred Russell said. He speculated that retail growth in Evans, North Augusta and Waynesboro might be luring consumers outside Richmond County.

“If you look at the growth in Columbia County, the growth across the river, it’s easily explained,” Russell said. “In the past, the only place people have had to shop is Augusta.”

The drop leaves Augusta only 0.23 percent below budgeted sales tax receipts for the year. The revenue goes toward capital projects approved by voters and some city services, the bulk of which is $20 million in local option sales taxes budgeted for law enforcement this year.
The decrease means the Rich­mond County Board of Edu­ca­tion, which collects a 1 percent sales tax for capital projects, saw a similar dip.

The state’s method of disbursing sales taxes prevents local officials from knowing where the decreases occurred, officials said. The issue, one that Mayor Deke Copenhaver frequently raises, left city officials at a similar loss in determining the impact of House Bill 386, which eliminated a sales tax on energy used in manufacturing. When the bill takes effect in January, officials can only estimate its impact because they don’t know how much each Augusta factory was paying in sales taxes.

Russell took the drop as further evidence that Augusta needs a dedicated retail development specialist, a new position he has included in the 2013 budget now before the Augusta Commission.

Though the city has a Down­town Development Authority and a Development Authority of Richmond County, which focuses mostly on large industrial development, it has no one to focus on retail, particularly in areas such as south Augusta, where residents complain they have few shops and restaurants.

“It’s somebody that will go fill up empty storefronts downtown and look toward bringing in retail and restaurants in the south parts of Augusta that need them,” Russell said.

The budget prepared by Russell and finance officials includes the new retail position and nine other new jobs, in addition to a $5 million shortfall that the commission must either eliminate or determine how to fill.

The commission has work sessions on the budget Thursday and Monday.

NO ACTION ON INSURANCE

Because Augusta Commission absences prevented a quorum, the city’s administrative services committee took no action Monday on a protest filed by Meritain Health Inc. over the commission’s bid award to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia as third-party administrator of a new self-funded health insurance pool.

City Administrator Fred Russell recommended that the committee uphold his recommendation to deny the protest, which alleged that the city procurement office used miscalculated data in recommending Blue Cross Blue Shield and made a last-minute change in terms that only Blue Cross had data to respond to accurately.

Commissioners Joe Bowles, Jerry Brigham, Alvin Mason and Grady Smith were absent Monday.

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Little Lamb
61929
Points
Little Lamb 11/12/12 - 09:13 pm
6
2
Lame Ducks

Brigham and Bowles are lame ducks. They need to stay away from voting. In fact, the commission should hold no more meetings until the new commissioners are sworn in in December. We don't need no stinkin' lame ducks voting for tax increases and stormwater fees and garbage fee increases.

countyman
26930
Points
countyman 11/12/12 - 09:35 pm
7
3
Create a new position due to

Create a new position due to only three months? The last time I checked there's a total of twelve months in one year, and months this year have been higher compared to the 2012 collections. Sitting at 0.23% behind the budgeted sales tax is not a cause of panic lol. I'm sure the collections will go right back up after the holiday shopping.

Fred Russell is really grasping for straws when had the nerve to mention Waynesoboro. None of those areas opened any large retailers in the past three months. I wouldn't mind having people specifically focus on bringing retail to South Augusta, or to the urban core outside of the CBD. I'm just not sure we need to create bigger government to get the job done.

Either the Chronicle or Deke is wrong about the July 2012 collections.

''Augusta, Georgia is pleased to report that the sales
tax collections for July 2012 were 1.38% ahead of last year’s collections and is ahead of budgeted revenue projections by 1.23%.''
http://www.augustaga.gov/archives/152/AUGUSTA%20SALES%20TAX%20REVENUES%2...

OpenCurtain
10055
Points
OpenCurtain 11/12/12 - 09:37 pm
8
2
Maybe, just maybe

It could be 1 SPLOST TOO MANY.
Augusta Richmond Co. has just about taxed itself out of existence.

F4therTime
4656
Points
F4therTime 11/12/12 - 09:45 pm
8
2
Does Alvin?
Unpublished

Ever make meetings? I been saying for awhile that Augusta was gonna tax itself right out of money. Poor leadership will cause more people to leave. Now that you have Marion and Roundtree in office look for the flight out of Augusta to continue. Over taxed South Augustans have had enough.

countyman
26930
Points
countyman 11/12/12 - 10:06 pm
2
4
When the sales tax revenue

When the sales tax revenue was increasing all last year, and from the start of this year. It's amazing we didn't hear none of the doom & gloom comments.. I want to read the comments after the holiday season.

Augusta is .23%(not even one full percent lol) behind, and the sky is falling.

There is no flight out of Augusta.. They wouldn't be opening Dunkin Donuts, Which Which, Cook Out, Five Guys, Walmart, Marlin & Rays, Soma, Walmart neighborhood market, Charming Charlie, etc.

West Augusta is shopping in Evans? When did Evans get Costco, Old Navy, Best Buy, Ulta, Apple, HH Gregg, etc..

These articles remind me of the unemployment rates.
Unemployment down= zero comments
Unemployment up = several comments

F4therTime
4656
Points
F4therTime 11/12/12 - 10:10 pm
6
1
I guess
Unpublished

The finance department is just kidding? The flight is real. Your made up population "projections" mean nothing.

countyman
26930
Points
countyman 11/12/12 - 10:32 pm
1
3
I never denied the results

I never denied the results except for maybe July. There's seems to be some confusing between Deke's press release the Chronicle.

The flight is quote 'real', but Costco decided to open their first location outside of metro Atlanta in West Augusta. The corporate at Starbucks would build a $172 million plant, and donate $200k to a county going through flight lol.

How does Augusta at .23% behind equal flight? It's not even one full percentage point. How do you explain the increase in other months?

Did you know through October 2012 the housing starts in Richmond County are up 25% compared to last year(308 to 245)?
http://buzzon.biz/2012/11/augusta-new-housing-starts-increase-over-2011/

Please give me an example of one 'made up' population projection?

I've never heard of flight, and in return the developers bring Soma, Charming Charlie, Walmart, Eros Bistro, Boars Head Public House, Walmart neighborhood market, Which Which, Dunkin Donuts, Farmhaus Burgers, Cook Out, Sprint Food & Metro Market, Buca di Beppo, Tin Drum Cafe, Five Guys, etc to the same county. No amount of spin can deny the Cook out opening in Harrisburg, and Five Guys coming to South Augusta.

allhans
25544
Points
allhans 11/12/12 - 10:33 pm
1
1
Fast dictonomy...

Fast - dictonomy...

F4therTime
4656
Points
F4therTime 11/12/12 - 10:40 pm
8
1
just wait...
Unpublished

The election you just had will show you the flight. People with money will leave. You will be the town of rentals and section 8's. Just like Dichotomy said people will refuse to buy in Augusta because of the extra taxes they pay. You have "projected" population growth. Those are not factual numbers.

Augusta resident
1370
Points
Augusta resident 11/12/12 - 11:10 pm
5
0
Same story

I think I heard the same story about vehicle registrations going down a while back. I think they were worried then.
Yes, gas prices are lots lower in N. Augusta, something like 21 cents a gallon lower.

Little Lamb
61929
Points
Little Lamb 11/12/12 - 11:23 pm
8
1
North Augusta

I did the math a couple of weeks ago on gasoline purcharses. Since I live in west Augusta, it's not a long drive to N. Augusta along I-20. I save about $1.75 a tank now buying gas in N. Augusta vs. Augusta. When the TSPLOST kicks in next year the savings will be more.

When TSPLOST kicks in, you will find me shopping for groceries, hardware, gasoline, dining out, and much more in N. Augusta.

Conservative Man
5928
Points
Conservative Man 11/13/12 - 12:38 am
9
1
Favoring neighboring counties?...

....ya think?....After TSPLOST passed I decided I'd drive across the river for a glass of milk, just to deny those morons who wanted this albatross one more cent of MY money.
..Bottom line....ANY tax increase NEVER increases revenue. It only causes people to adjust their actions accordingly....Richmond Co. is so....how shall I put it.....over.

countyman
26930
Points
countyman 11/13/12 - 01:13 am
1
4
The T-SPOLST affects the

The T-SPOLST affects the entire GA region lol(multiple counties). I'm also think it's funny how people don't realize the CSRA & metro revolves around Richmond County.

When Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Detroit fell on hard times in terms of industry. The entire metro areas lost population. There's a big difference between attracting grocery stores, and jobs paying over $20 per hour.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 11/13/12 - 01:21 am
9
1
Shoppers aren't leaving

Shoppers aren't leaving Richmond County.

They are being driven out.

augustarookie
301
Points
augustarookie 11/13/12 - 01:39 am
6
1
Who wants to support

the ridiculous Augusta government?

soapy_725
47236
Points
soapy_725 11/13/12 - 06:36 am
2
0
Where is the Committee of One Hundred?
Unpublished

When you need them?

OpenCurtain
10055
Points
OpenCurtain 11/13/12 - 07:51 am
3
0
30906 Numbers As of 2010

PLACES TO EAT

Applebee's 1
McDonald's 5
Papa John's Pizza 1
Burger King 3
Pizza Hut 2
Church's Chicken 1
Popeyes 1
Dairy Queen 1
Ryan's Grill 1
SONIC Drive-In 2
Subway 2
Taco Bell 1
IHOP 1
KFC 1
Little Caesars Pizza 1
Waffle House 4
Long John Silver's 1
BBQ 1 real place - the one you like.

BTW: we have 70 Canadians living in 30906. ;-)

Tullie
2933
Points
Tullie 11/13/12 - 07:51 am
2
0
I Shop

This Richmond County home owner shops at the Walmart in Waynesboro or North Augusta. And I shop at the other stores in North Augusta like Publix, Bi-lo, or Kroger. Depending on what is on sale.

I have done that for years.

OpenCurtain
10055
Points
OpenCurtain 11/13/12 - 08:11 am
4
0
Some independent facts

For comparison

http://www.city-data.com/zips/30906.html
http://www.city-data.com/zips/30904.html

BTW: We still shop for monthly food purchases and GAS purchases outside A-RC also due to taxes. We try to support local businesses and food est. as they prove worthy of repeat business.

Little Lamb
61929
Points
Little Lamb 11/13/12 - 08:55 am
4
0
30906

Don't forget the independents:

PLACES TO EAT

Roadrunner Cafe
Philly Cheese Steak Factory
T's Restaurant
Bambino's Pizza

There are probably more. Oh, yes, and you left Huddle House out of your franchise list.

rebellious
22938
Points
rebellious 11/13/12 - 09:13 am
6
0
Yuuupp

The recent TSPLOST does not effect North Augusta. And the conditions in the Waynesboro Walmart, not to mention the quality of clientele, are head over heals better than Deans Bridge. This is just one example of many.

For years I waged a one man campaign to spend every dollar of purchase in a geographical region bordered by Gordon Hwy on the North, Burke county/Richmond County border on the South, River on the East and JeffCo on the West. Needless to say it has had little to no affect. Bojangles - Closed, Golden Corral - Shuttered, make your own list Countyman.

If this Real Estate market ever gets back to where it was 5 years ago on existing structures, look for a For Sale sign in my yard. The minority with eyes wide open are starting to feel like the child in the Emperor's New Clothes. Deke and Countyman are the Weaver.

Albert Einstein said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".

Countyman, just because you repeat the same things over and over, doesn't make it so.....

loblolly
469
Points
loblolly 11/13/12 - 10:01 am
0
1
I have to admit
Unpublished

Shopping is lame in RIchmond. We need an outdoor mall right in downtown Augusta. Hopefully TEE Center will bring some relief.

allhans
25544
Points
allhans 11/13/12 - 10:20 am
3
0
Okay guys. But WHERE do you

Okay guys. But WHERE do you eat?

Augusta resident
1370
Points
Augusta resident 11/13/12 - 10:50 am
3
0
Fudruckers

Does anyone remember when Fudruckers was in South Augusta? I do. Anyway, cheaper or not, the Lowes and Walmart in North Augusta are closer to my house than the ones on Bobby Jones.

OpenCurtain
10055
Points
OpenCurtain 11/13/12 - 10:54 am
1
0
Eat's

For a real southern meal we head out to Taylor's 3 miles past Heph/McBean Rd. on US-25 - 2 Fried Pork Chops dry or smothered in brown gravy, homemade mac & cheese, Rice Blackeye peas, corn bread and tea. <$7.50

We are still looking for a good Japanese Hibachi Steak House - We have tried a bunch along the Washington Rd area and the one on the Bobby Jones side road so far, nothing quite matches style we are use to yet.

OpenCurtain
10055
Points
OpenCurtain 11/13/12 - 11:04 am
2
0
Little Lamb

You are correct I left a few out - Accidentally not deliberately.
T's we do only special occasions, Huddle House when they run the 2 for $6.99. Road Runner is good place, it had a few cook changes a while back and we kind of lost interest, nothing bad, just for now.

I still miss Eat -A-Plenty's though.

Little Lamb
61929
Points
Little Lamb 11/13/12 - 11:19 am
3
0
Japanese

You might want to try the Japanese Hibachi restaurant in the shopping center at Furys Ferry & Baston Rd. (There's an Earth Fare grocery anchoring the center). I know it's a long way to drive, but if you happen to be in the area it's pretty good (they've got a nifty little dipping sauce they make at the restaurant).

For that matter, the Earth Fare has a restaurant that is popular with families in the area.

Little Lamb
61929
Points
Little Lamb 11/13/12 - 11:22 am
1
0
Blast From the Past

Does anyone remember a seafood restaurant that used to be on Windsor Spring Rd. where the Lowes sits now? I think it was called Seawinder or something like that. It was quite good.

Riverman1
154703
Points
Riverman1 11/13/12 - 02:02 pm
6
0
Small Part of Downtown is Helped

Some have called it to my attention that only a select few benefit from the tax money that's sent downtown. Dichotomy makes terrific points, but some downtown business people are as mad as South Augustans at the way funds are allocated. Everything is shifted over to the TEE and Marriott at the expense of other businesses in the old city. We have given Augusta Riverfront LLC a door into the general fund from now on. Imagine if you owned a hotel out by I-20 or anywhere in the city and the CVB was working diligently with an EXTRA $350,000 a year to market the Marriott. That's not only helping the Marriott, it's HURTING the rest of the venues, including the JB Arena.

Riverman1
154703
Points
Riverman1 11/13/12 - 11:54 am
6
0
Joe Bowles role in all this

Joe Bowles' role in all this is puzzling. Something is fishy.

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