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Augusta Commission approves first phases of stormwater fee

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Whether it rains or not, Augusta is headed into the countywide imposition of a so-called rain tax, billed to all property owners to cover the cost of stormwater management.

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Augusta Commission members Joe Jackson (left) and Corey Johnson speak after a vote to uphold the denial of the health insurance bid protest. The commission also approved the first three phases of a county "rain tax."  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Augusta Commission members Joe Jackson (left) and Corey Johnson speak after a vote to uphold the denial of the health insurance bid protest. The commission also approved the first three phases of a county "rain tax."

By a 7-2 vote Wednesday, the Augusta Commission approved the first three phases of a massive stormwater fee implementation schedule prepared by Augusta Engineering Director Abie Ladson.

The fee, which has been used by Columbia and Aiken counties for years, is based on a property’s square footage of surface impervious to water, such as driveways and rooftops.

Typically a few dollars a month per home, the fee can be much higher for properties with wide expanses of paved surfaces, such as parking lots, or large buildings. Because it’s not a tax, typically tax-exempt buildings such as churches and schools pay their share.

Wayne Guilfoyle, who joined Jerry Brigham in casting the dissenting votes, said he could not see imposing a new charge on the 85 percent of rural District 8’s property owners whose sole stormwater management system is a poorly maintained ditch.

“I won’t support it until we come up with a solution,” Guilfoyle said, suggesting exempting those property owners without storm systems.

Ladson, excusing his department for the poor ditch maintenance by saying its staff of 50 now has the entire county stormwater system to maintain, said the program’s Town Hall meetings will help property owners understand that ditches are part of the storm-drainage system.

“That’s the state and federal guidelines,” Ladson said. “If you have to maintain it, remove any type of debris from the ditch, that’s storm management.”

Commissioner Alvin Mason insisted that Wednesday’s vote merely authorized “analysis, evaluation and inventory,” after which the commission will “determine if a fee in fact is feasible.”

The first 25 steps approved by the commission include the development of a database of all stormwater infrastructure countywide, according to Ladson’s proposal. Steps 15-25 include hiring engineering, legal and public relations consultants to develop a media campaign, engage stakeholders and hold public meetings.

If the commission agrees to impose the fee, Ladson’s proposal budgets collections of $9.9 million annually when it is fully imposed in 2014.

In other business Wednesday, the commission relieved some uncertainty about its employee health insurance provider by agreeing to deny a bid protest filed by Aetna subsidiary Meritain Health. In a roll-call vote, only Mason and Commissioners J.R. Hatney and Bill Lockett voted against denying the protest, which Mason has said was warranted because of errors made by a procurement committee.

The committee recommended retaining Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia to serve as third-party administrator of Augusta’s new self-funded health insurance pool.

The protest has already landed city officials in court, and another hearing is likely this week, commissioners said. On Friday a judge ruled against Meritain’s request for an emergency injunction that would have prevented the city from moving forward with Blue Cross Blue Shield but said the commission needed to reach a decision on the protest, something it has failed to do in two previous votes.

Despite the pending litigation, the city began open enrollment meetings with Blue Cross Blue Shield this week.

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Riverman1
84889
Points
Riverman1 12/05/12 - 09:15 pm
10
2
So if Judge Roper said he

So if Judge Roper said he wouldn't issue an injunction to stop the city from signing with Blue Cross until the Commission vote, it looks like we are back in court. How do the smallest matters in Richmond County get so crazy?

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/05/12 - 09:24 pm
10
1
Fighting the Rain Tax

It seem Fred Russell is hell bent of screwing the South Side tax wise once again.

What say yea South Siders?

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/05/12 - 09:21 pm
13
0
Time to dust off that

De-consolidation Petition.

The GA. courts have already ruled that discriminatory taxing is a violation of GA Law.

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 12/05/12 - 09:55 pm
12
0
Ladson said:

If you have to maintain it, remove any type of debris from the ditch, that’s storm management.”

The only storm management that has been done around here is what we have done and what we have paid our lawn guy to do. So, what in the heck is he talking about?

F4therTime
4656
Points
F4therTime 12/05/12 - 10:20 pm
13
1
He's talking about taxing poor South Augusta even more!!
Unpublished

Isn't there a lawyer living on the South Side that is willing to take up our cause? This crap is ridiculous!!

dichotomy
33490
Points
dichotomy 12/05/12 - 11:18 pm
14
0
Ladson claims that a ditch is

Ladson claims that a ditch is part of a stormwater "system", which it ain't. But even if it was he admits they ARE NOT MAINTAINING THEM and therefore will be TAXING US FOR A SERVICE THEY DO NOT PROVIDE.

THAT IS ILLEGAL.

So the vote was 7-2. Who didn't vote? Where was our other illustrious super district 10 commissioner. Did Grady Smith vote against us and with the downtown clowns as usual?

South Richmond County you are stuck in TAX HELL. You have half of the land, probably pay 1/3 of all of the taxes, AND HAVE NO REPRESENTATION in ratio the taxes you pay. The downtown clowns beat you like a rented mule. The Charter was written to allow the downtown people to pick your pockets and they have been doing a damned fine job of it for 17 years. They have been taxing you and giving you NOTHING for 17 years and now they are going to add some NEW TAXES for SERVICES THEY ARE NOT PROVIDING.

Go ahead South Richmond County.....keep standing around with your thumb up your........errr.....in your......errrr...that won't fit. Anyway, you get the picture. If you don't find a lawyer to tie these fools up in court until doomsday they are going to tax you for every dime you have or until you start losing your property because you can't pay the taxes and you can't sell it because it's in SOUTH RICHMOND COUNTY......where they "discourage development" but encourage taxes and fees everytime on of them gets flatulent.......which is often since most of them are all big gasbags and will get MORE often with the addition of our two latest geniuses.

WE CAN PROVE IN COURT THAT THEY TAKE OUR MONEY AND PERCENTAGE WISE GIVE US NOTHING. It's ILLEGAL.We already know their PROPERTY TAX SYSTEM IS ILLEGAL. We already know their separate GARBAGE FEE on our property tax bill is ILLEGAL. We already know that they raised OUR FIRE TAXES and a lot of that money went DOWNTOWN.

WILL SOME LAWYER PLEASE COME FORWARD AND TAKE UP OUR CAUSE????? We CAN raise the money to pay you. We need to haul them into court so often that screwing us will become NOT ECONOMICALLY VIABLE because we will hold up everything they try to do.

TK3
562
Points
TK3 12/06/12 - 12:29 am
7
0
LOST tax used to push for another tax/fee.

Let me get this straight, the penny sales tax money will be used to pay for a (PR) study to push another add-on tax (by any other name, including fee) and this is all be being done to solve past Big Brother "Planning Department" errors and is supposed-to help "some" areas but will in fact cause more properties to become available due to tax liens for "lucky" buyers and perhaps even some in-the-know future developers.

Little Lamb
46370
Points
Little Lamb 12/06/12 - 12:36 am
9
0
$9.9 Million a Year in Stormwater Fee Collections

They don't have the manpower to spend it. It will become a slush fund for all sorts of shenanigans.

rebellious
20897
Points
rebellious 12/06/12 - 12:35 am
12
0
Guilfoyle and Brigham

were the dissenting votes. Hats off to them. But once again illustrated how politician never met a tax they didn't like.

Ladies and Gentlemen, bend over, grab your ankles cause this one is gonna hurt. Can't stay on this site long because I have to figure out how to plant grass on my roof to claim an exemption to the tax.

9.9 million in revenue. Oh my goodness, how fast that will be spent.....downtown.

Little Lamb
46370
Points
Little Lamb 12/06/12 - 12:37 am
7
0
$9.9 Million

Why don't they just round it off to an even $10 million?

dichotomy
33490
Points
dichotomy 12/06/12 - 12:57 am
10
0
"Why don't they just round it

"Why don't they just round it off to an even $10 million?"

You mean like they rounded off the $20 million dollar (authroized by the voters) TEE center to $100 million?

aubaug
62
Points
aubaug 12/06/12 - 01:38 am
9
0
Downtown moneypit

The downtown moneypit must need another contribution. The lame excuses to hike taxes and the scary Richmond County Crime Map make moving out of Richmond County most desirable. Hello? People do not to put up with this!

bluelight
28
Points
bluelight 12/06/12 - 01:40 am
8
0
storm water tax

Isn't there SPLOST money for this? Local government is taking lessons from DC...can't live within a budget, increase taxes.

pointstoponder
181
Points
pointstoponder 12/06/12 - 03:52 am
6
0
Odd. They used to be able to

Odd. They used to be able to do at least some maintenance before they killed of the Public Services Department and merged it with Engineering and Recreation. It wasn't great, but it was better than none.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/06/12 - 07:37 am
7
0
They have just set themselves up for a lawsuit.

By acknowledging that ditches are part of the storm system. Next time a ditch overflows into a street and causes a accident, next time a ditch at the bottom of a hill overflows into a lawn, destroys a lawn or floods a garage the county is liable. If you need a new drainage pipe under your driveway the county has to replace it to meet the needs of you traffic.

Plus they have to have a plan to channel that water to the streams without the trash and hazardous materials mixed in or the GA-EPA or Federal EPA will fine them.

REGARDING DITCH MANAGEMENT
What ditch a management?
To save a long story. It took from August 2012 to November 2012 to finally get the Ditches cleared. That was only because "The Comiss" (Wayne G.) was finally involved twice. The 1st time to get them to even start work, and the 2nd time to get them back to finish the job they left unfinished.

Talking to neighbors I was told by most, the ditches had not been maintained in over 10 years, with some saying 14 or more.

Do we have a Lawyer that can write up a De-consolidation Petition?

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/06/12 - 07:44 am
6
0
What say you

Is it time to DE-Consolidate?
With Elections already coming up in 2014 we have plenty of time to start and circulate a DE-Consolidation Petition to get it on the next ballot for a vote.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/06/12 - 07:50 am
4
0
dichotomy - If memory serves me correctly

Didn't it also take getting Wayne G. Involved to get your Ditch and washout finally fixed?

dichotomy
33490
Points
dichotomy 12/06/12 - 08:38 am
8
0
OC.....THe short answer is

OC.....The short answer is yes, but it's not "fixed". They dropped 40 rocks in the ditch and called it fixed but the culvert pipe still has a 1 foot diameter chunk busted off of it where the county bush hog hit it when they mowed the right-of-way and knocked down my street address sign. There is more than 1 foot of exposed pipe because the water swirls and is forced out on the outside of the pipe when the water plant next door flushes the clear wells into the drainage ditch and pumps thousands of gallons of water for hours at a time. I guess that is the "rain" they want to tax me for. They dropped 40 pieces of rip-rap into the bottom of the ditch and called it quits. But yes, it did take Commissioner Guilfoyle querying the Engineering folks to even get the 40 rocks.

I look at it like this....THEY broke the culvert pipe and THEY are causing the erosion so THEY should replace the culvert pipe with and adequately sized pipe and re-pave the driveway apron with MY tax money I pay them. Right now the score is THEM - $50,000 of my tax money, ME - 40 rocks.

Riverman1
84889
Points
Riverman1 12/06/12 - 09:09 am
7
0
Southsiders

Don't be thinking that ditch in front of your house has anything to do with flood control. It's a thing to keep roads open.

seenitB4
88079
Points
seenitB4 12/06/12 - 09:39 am
5
1
Try to be grateful here

Now dichotomy...don't you have a DITCH.....didn't they give you 40 rocks.....what more can a man ask for....geez....next thing ya know you will want police protection too....

sorry...just can't help myself this am...must be the drugss.....

oneofthesane
2201
Points
oneofthesane 12/06/12 - 10:02 am
6
0
in 4 years....moving to
Unpublished

in 4 years....moving to Columbia county. You guys can keep south augusta.

seenitB4
88079
Points
seenitB4 12/06/12 - 10:13 am
4
2
Post Office overrun...

The folks at the Evans Post office say they are SOO BUSY they feel like Hot Atlanta Office....sooo folks must be moving toward that area as we speak.....wonder why......

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 12/06/12 - 10:51 am
0
0
New developments everyday in CC
Unpublished

EG & RP have a house waiting for you this instant. New owner incentives included. Pines are coming down and the concrete is flowing. And "they" know that Fort Gordon is only going to have more residents.

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 12/06/12 - 10:56 am
0
0
CC is working toward 90% impervious
Unpublished

Concrete and asphalt heaven. Allowing developers to create storm water disasters and then taxing the home owners for lack of engineering and development codes.

Goggle CC and look at the swamps. Deliberate creation of flooding problems.

F4therTime
4656
Points
F4therTime 12/06/12 - 11:21 am
8
0
Don't know why...
Unpublished

Anyone would want to move out of South Augusta...I mean gosh we are getting a new basketball court, industrial road widening, 5 guys, rumors of a Target and at the paltry price of triple taxes, garbage tax and now a storm water tax....hold the influx of people back!!! There will be so many people wanting to move to South Augusta we will have to club them in the head and drag them to Aiken and Columbia County so we don't get overpopulated!!

catawba7
319
Points
catawba7 12/06/12 - 12:48 pm
6
0
De-consolidation Petition.

As long as you have Corey Johnson on the commission with puppet A.B. Ladson, fees will keep coming in from screwed South Augusta to benefit the downtown area.

Steal land and tax money from South Augusta that is Johnson's way...can't wait to see him vacate his seat in 2014.

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 12/07/12 - 05:18 am
2
0
F4therTime said:

Anyone would want to move out of South Augusta...I mean gosh we are getting a new basketball court, industrial road widening, 5 guys, rumors of a Target and at the paltry price of triple taxes, garbage tax and now a storm water tax....hold the influx of people back!!!

The basketball court looks like it is coming right along..if that is what they are doing there.

You forgot about the streetlight tax, it is my understanding the folks out here that use Jefferson Energy pay more than the ones that use Georgia Power. I still am not clear if the folks in the city even pay for streetlights. I will be at that meeting if at all possible to understand what is going on about these differences in taxation

PitchFork007
473
Points
PitchFork007 12/07/12 - 05:27 am
1
0
Vote them out!

Is there anyone in southside District 6 other than myself who intend
to vote for the next District 6 candidate who shows that he has the
courage and will to vote no on these onerous, burdensome,
tax-more and tax-higher bills?

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