Property taxes on commission agenda

Augusta Commission members could get a first crack at the state of the city’s tax digest, which it uses to set property tax rates, during Tuesday’s commission meeting.

However, several said they had received no information Monday about agenda item 37, “to discuss and approve 2013 mill rates.” Finance Director Donna Williams said she was still waiting on the finalized digest to calculate a recommended rate.

“The budget was prepared with essentially no change, a flat digest,” Williams said.

Each year, Georgia counties establish a tax rate based on the assessed value of all properties. If keeping the same rate would generate more revenue because of growth in the digest, the counties are required to notify the public about the back-door tax increase.

Commissioner Joe Jack­son said he expects City Administrator Fred Russell to recommend an outright tax increase instead.

“I guarantee Fred’s recommendation is to raise the millage,” Jackson said. “Where’s this $3 million that we’re going to recoup frompictometry? I want to see those before I even consider raising the millage.”

The city has a contract with Pictometry Inter­na­tion­al, which uses aerial photos to detect improvements to properties, some of which are untaxed.

Tax Assessor Alveno Ross, who implemented a second pictometric sweep in 2011, said the $350,000 program had captured nearly $42 million in unreported taxable properties so far, from about 18,000 parcels examined of the city’s 80,000. Year to date, the additions will garner about $465,000 in new revenue for the school board and city, Ross said.

Also Tuesday, commissioners are scheduled to:

• Hold a 4:30 p.m. closed-door meeting with attorneys

• Consider a vote to “ratify” a Feb. 19 vote held in open session to terminate the city’s contract with Mobility Transit

• Consider approving a new contract with McDonald Transit to run the city bus service

• Get an update from Rec­reation, Parks and Fa­cilities Di­rector Bob Levine on a plan to repair and improve Riverwalk Augusta

• Receive a legal opinion on the city’s employment of both Equal Employment Opportunity and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise coordinators, in potential conflict with the city charter

• Approve a resolution placing Richmond County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputies and rescue workers under workers’ compensation

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