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Augusta Commission to work on next special purpose local option sales tax next week

Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014 1:54 AM
Last updated 2:19 AM
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It’s time again for Augusta leaders to decide which construction projects to ask voters to fund by extending the 1 percent special purpose local option sales tax.

Going before the Augusta Commission for approval Tuesday is a timeline for Au­gusta to develop a tax package and authorize Mayor Deke Copenhaver to begin preparing a referendum on the project list to go before voters May 20.

If approved, the funding stream likely wouldn’t start until early 2016, but some city leaders and department heads already are eying the money for specific projects.

Richmond County Sheriff Richard Round­tree, who lacked funding to replace the department’s radio system and install a network of security cameras downtown when he proposed the ideas earlier this year, said he hopes to include both items on the sales tax package.

“It is our hope to be able to purchase our own communications network. We have been leasing the current system for over 16 years,” Roundtree said.

In recent years, sales tax funds paid all or part of construction costs for the city’s main library, sheriff’s administration building, jail expansions, new marshal substation, courthouse and convention center.

A project underway – renovating the Municipal Building and constructing a nearby Information Technology building – was partially funded by SPLOST 6, but debt service on $26.5 million in bonds issued to complete the project was scheduled for SPLOST 7, though voters have yet to approve it.

Richmond County voters tend to like the tax packages. About 73 percent of voters approved a $130 million package in March 2012 for the Richmond County Board of Education. Seventy percent of voters approved SPLOST 6 in June 2009, a $184.7 million package.

However, in 2005 voters defeated a $472.5 million sales tax package, sending commissioners scrambling to replace it with a $160 million plan that voters later approved.

Since then, the “fair tax” that applies to all who make purchases in Augusta hasn’t gained in popularity, particularly in light of the new Transportation Invest­­ment Act. It added another 1 percent sales tax in metro Augusta, bringing sales taxes to 8 cents on a dollar.

“This SPLOST is going to be a pretty tough sell this time,” Commissioner Bill Lockett said.

Lagging collections expected to delay promised sales tax projects are causing voters to question the wisdom of the funding mechanism, said Lockett, although the District 5 commissioner had one project immediately in mind for the next list: Regency Mall. With sales tax funding, he said, the city could at last complete a mixed-use recreation and housing development next to the Gordon Highway eyesore.

The Augusta Engineering Depart­ment hopes to double down on infrastructure work with the transportation sales tax, SPLOST 7 and potentially a new stormwater fee, Director Abie Ladson said.

Included on Ladson’s SPLOST 7 wish list is money to resurface Tobacco Road, supplement funding for the Hyde Park retention pond project and reconstruct a section of Windsor Spring Road.

Commissioner Mary Davis said the next tax package should be used to support the growth of Georgia Regents University and Fort Gordon, but she declined to elaborate. Commissioner Don­nie Smith has mentioned a new fire station in west Augusta.

Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said he hoped his largely rural District 8 would receive something, while its two small municipalities – Hephzibah and Blythe – are finalizing agreements with Augusta for their share of funds from the next round of the tax.

Commissioner Bill Fennoy said at first glance, District 1 desires work on sidewalks in Olde Town, streetlights in Harrisburg and a community center in Apple Valley.

“There are a lot of reasonable requests out there,” Fennoy said.

Commissioner Marion Williams, whose district encompasses half the city, questioned the city’s haste in developing a package. The timeline shows a completed project list by the end of January.

“This is too serious to rush through,” the District 9 commissioner said.

Tim Schroer, the city’s deputy finance director, said the short deadlines are needed to meet public notice requirements and allow voters a second chance to approve the package if a first referendum fails. The new funding stream cannot start until SPLOST 6 collections – now at $109 million – are complete.

Schroer said he expects Copenhaver to handle requests for funding allocations from outside agencies - such as Paine College and Symphony Orchestra Augusta, which have received funding from prior sales tax packages. Copenhaver did not return calls seeking comment.

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Riverman1
94225
Points
Riverman1 01/04/14 - 02:51 am
8
2
Eyeing The List

Eyeing the list of where past SPLOSTs have been spent, it appears downtown gets the lion's share as with everything. I'll predict any proposed tax will be approved with Richmond County's current population. Paine College has a bright future for a private school with the millions the taxpayers of Richmond County provide the college.

corgimom
38705
Points
corgimom 01/04/14 - 05:44 am
3
5
Hey, I vote for the community

Hey, I vote for the community center for Apple Valley. It'll give the gang members a place to hang out.

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 01/04/14 - 06:30 am
8
1
no more splost
Unpublished

You see what is happening to the 1% sales tax for our district to repair
roads, tax collections are lagging behind projections. Why you ask, the citizens have no say where or when this money is to be used and with
some of the projects being postponed, my guess is this money collected will eventually go to the state highway dept to use wherever needed, hello Atlanta! Our county commissioners have their own plans for this splost and it hasn't even passed yet. We will all be threaten with higher property tax if we do not pass splost. It is time to take matters into the taxpayers hands and throw these spenders out. Augusta will be little Detroit by 2020.

corgimom
38705
Points
corgimom 01/04/14 - 06:45 am
6
5
There is so much need in

There is so much need in Augusta, it's coming no matter who is in office. SPLOST or property tax, take your pick.

The problem comes from the incompetent commissioners that have been elected for the past many years, who poured all their time and money into "reviving Downtown" (why?) and ignored everything else.

nocnoc
49498
Points
nocnoc 01/04/14 - 07:20 am
7
0
AV Community already has a AV Basket ball park for meetings.

How about something logical and further?

Say just passed Tobacco Rd. ?
Like a Public Pistol / Rifle / Skeet Range manged, managed for insurance reasons by a 3rd party, but with a $5 fee per use or $100 per year fee, plus selling on site supplies and ammo to paying ARC ONLY visitors?

Lets give the other 1/2 of the South Side some practice space.

robert2410
1628
Points
robert2410 01/04/14 - 07:43 am
8
0
You know if the politicians
Unpublished

You know if the politicians in Atlanta would use the revenue meant for road construction on road construction instead of diverting it to other places, most of the SPLOST's would not be needed. You are paying to have your roads built and/or repaired twice, sometimes even three times. The beauty of overreaching and bloated government and liberals are howling for more of it.

Dixieman
17560
Points
Dixieman 01/04/14 - 07:47 am
8
1
There is no public use

for these funds which would better serve the people than leaving the money in their hands.

soapy_725
44131
Points
soapy_725 01/04/14 - 08:24 am
0
0
Why collect more taxes, because we can. The Scorpion Theory
Unpublished

Why collect more taxes, because we can. The Scorpion Theory

soapy_725
44131
Points
soapy_725 01/04/14 - 08:24 am
0
0
Local bureaucrats doing what they do best. Collect taxes.
Unpublished

Local bureaucrats doing what they do best. Collect taxes.

soapy_725
44131
Points
soapy_725 01/04/14 - 08:25 am
0
0
Redistributing wealth at the point of a gun. Like common thieves
Unpublished

Redistributing wealth at the point of a gun. Like common thieves

nocnoc
49498
Points
nocnoc 01/04/14 - 09:53 am
7
0
If government was resticted

except in time of war or national disaster to a 5% national sales tax.

We would be at war all the time.

Government little more than a middle man as a means for Power Brokers to make $$$$.

raul
5774
Points
raul 01/04/14 - 10:18 am
6
0
@Riverman. I've always

@Riverman. I've always wondered how a private college like Paine benefits from taxpayer funded projects. Do other private schools receive taxpayer money?

raul
5774
Points
raul 01/04/14 - 10:22 am
7
0
"Tim Schroer, the city’s

"Tim Schroer, the city’s deputy finance director, said the short deadlines are needed to meet public notice requirements and allow voters a second chance to approve the package if a first referendum fails." Why should they be allowed more than one shot to approve it?

story1
807
Points
story1 01/04/14 - 10:27 am
4
0
Last Paragraph?

How is Copenhaver going to "handle requests for funding allocations from outside agencies"? Didn't SOA receive $10M from the last Splost?

Conservative Man
5578
Points
Conservative Man 01/04/14 - 11:01 am
5
0
Schoer says....

...."to meet public notice requirements"....Too funny...

It didn't stop them in passing the EZ/OZ for Harrisburg in the dead of night..Nor did it stop them from passing the disastrous TAD 4 recently...

This will be just another in a long list of ways that money can be stolen by the "connected" at the expense of the citizen...

..also corgi call it what it is...a FAILED attempt to revitalize downtown..

Someone remember to turn out the lights in RC when its over..

Riverman1
94225
Points
Riverman1 01/04/14 - 11:20 am
7
0
@Raul

@Riverman. I've always wondered how a private college like Paine benefits from taxpayer funded projects. Do other private schools receive taxpayer money?

Heh, heh, heh.

Riverman1
94225
Points
Riverman1 01/04/14 - 11:27 am
6
0
Thinking About SPLOSTs

Richmond County is having trouble trying to figure out how to pay the bills, but they have SPLOST money that circumvents the rules and allows them to do things such as build Paine College a new gym.

The spenders will quickly tell you that SPLOST money can't go to pay ordinary bills and can only be used to build or purchase new things. Of course these things they buy require other money to maintain and operate. It's a totally illogical system of taxation because it puts the money in a separate category where it can't be used where it should be...paying the bills.

Little Lamb
49245
Points
Little Lamb 01/04/14 - 11:31 am
5
0
No Clue

From the story:

“It is our hope to be able to purchase our own communications network. We have been leasing the current system for over 16 years,” Sheriff Richard Roundtree said.

There is a famous quotation by a once-famous American capitalist. I can't remember who said it, perhaps J.P. Morgan. But the gist of the quotation is this:

If something appreciates in value, buy it. If something depreciates in value, lease it.

Richard Roundtree does not get it. Leasing a communications system is the way to go, because it depreciates from the moment you buy it. Communications technology is changing all the time. It's best to lease your communications system.

dichotomy
37611
Points
dichotomy 01/04/14 - 11:39 am
7
0
Our sales tax is TOO HIGH. 8%

Our sales tax is TOO HIGH. 8% SALES TAX, PLUS GAS TAX, PLUS 6% STATE INCOME TAX, PLUS PROPERTY TAX, PLUS FIRE TAX, PLUS SCHOOL TAX, PLUS GARBAGE TAX, PLUS RAIN TAX. ARE THEY ALL CRAZY??????????? Let all SPLOSTs EXPIRE. It ALL ends up DOWNTOWN and the rest of the county gets SCREWED. They take our PROPERTY TAX money, waste it, and they want us to PAY EXTRA TO GET ANYTHING DONE. SPLOST is a rip-off.

And NO OUTSIDE INTEREST should get a nickel from TAXPAYERS.

VOTE NO ON SPLOST. NO RAIN TAX AND NO SPLOST. GO TO THE POLLS AND VOTE NO. They have no self-control and it is time to rein them in and tell them they have stolen enough of our money to give to the rich locals and blackmail projects.

Little Lamb
49245
Points
Little Lamb 01/04/14 - 11:43 am
5
0
Marion Williams is correct!

"This is too serious to rush through."

And Raul pointed out the city's big absurdity in his 10:22 post. When voters turned down the SPLOST referendum in 2005 (which included purchasing Regency Mall and building the "Billy Barn" there), it sent cold shivers up the spines of city leaders (wait a minute, city leaders are jellyfish — do they even have spines?). They pared down the list and got voters to approve the SPLOST the next year. But for a few glorious months, Augustans were treated to 6% sales tax instead of 7%.

Thus, the politicians have ensured that all subsequent SPLOST referenda are placed on the ballots way earlier than they should be just to avoid the possibility of "backing up" on sales tax collections.

This SPLOST 6 referendum should not take place in 2014 because we are nowhere close to coming to the end of SPLOST 6. As Ms. McCord states, SPLOST 6 funding will not expire until 2016. Thus, logic would set the SPLOST 7 referendum in fall, 2015.

The strange interference of the federal government into Georgia election law is placing the primary elections in May for the November general election. That makes the primary elections two months earlier than we're accustomed.

Thus, the rush to fill up the plate with ill-conceived pork projects.

Little Lamb
49245
Points
Little Lamb 01/04/14 - 12:05 pm
6
0
Next To?

Susan McCord reported:

Commissioner Bill Lockett had one project immediately in mind for the next list: Regency Mall. With sales tax funding, he said, the city could at last complete a mixed-use recreation and housing development next to the Gordon Highway eyesore.

Does this curious phrase “next to” mean that the mixed-use recreation and housing development will not be on eyesore property, but instead on some other property adjacent to the boarded up eyesore?

I hope this becomes clearer to the public and the commission before it is added to the SPLOST list.

Besides, I don't see housing to be a critical need of city government at this time. There is a glut of housing in all price ranges in Richmond County, and there is also an abundance of empty apartments for rent.

There are also several parks in the Gordon Hwy. / Deans Bridge Road area.

Little Lamb
49245
Points
Little Lamb 01/04/14 - 12:11 pm
8
0
No Clue Two

From the story:

Commissioner Mary Davis said the next tax package should be used to support the growth of Georgia Regents University and Fort Gordon, but she declined to elaborate.

Excuse me, but the Georgia Board of Regents is sitting on a pile of money way bigger than the entire SPLOST projection. There is no reason for this sales tax money to go for Grooo capital projects. Grooo has a huge funding source. For the city to subsidize its rich uncle is ludicrous.

And Fort Gordon? They have the entire military-industrial complex to finance their capital improvements. Ms. Davis has lost her mind.

Little Lamb
49245
Points
Little Lamb 01/04/14 - 12:21 pm
6
0
When is enough enough?

From the story:

Commissioner Don­nie Smith has mentioned a new fire station in west Augusta.

I live in west Augusta, District 7. There is a fire station on Alexander Drive. There is a fire station on Walton Way Extension. There is a fire station on Flowing Wells Road. I think they've got west Augusta covered pretty well.

countyman
21682
Points
countyman 01/04/14 - 12:26 pm
1
7
The citizens of Richmond

The citizens of Richmond County can use the workout area in the HEAL building for free...

Augusta just ranked 2nd in the nation for high tech job growth between 2006-2011.. The companies like Rural Sourcing and Southpoint Media in the urban core are growing. The Cyber Command is coming here and the Starbucks/Rockwood plants are under construction. Augusta will become the little Raleigh, Austin, or San Jose by 2020...

People definitely need to visit Chattanooga, Greenville, Savannah, Charleston, etc if they really believe Augusta is progressive when it comes to spending money downtown..

The majority of people who believe Augusta is spending tons of money downtown compared to the others areas live outside of Richmond County.. The projects included in the last SPLOST can be found in the link below.. Look at the number of infrastructure projects in South Augusta compared to anywhere else.
http://www.augustaga.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/1671

The city of Greenville took decades to revitalize downtown and look at the product in 2014. Downtown Augusta is already being revitalize and the private construction speaks for itself..

How many areas in the CSRA have new hotel construction, office, residential, and retail underway right now? West Augusta and the CBD..

Little Lamb
49245
Points
Little Lamb 01/04/14 - 12:29 pm
6
0
The Pond

From the story:

Included on Engineering Department Abie Ladson’s SPLOST 7 wish list is money to . . . supplement funding for the Hyde Park retention pond project.

That is one project that should be killed and have a wooden stake driven through its heart. It's nothing more than extortion by shakedown artist Charles Utley.

If you are prepared to gag, take a look at this "update" of Utley's:

Hyde Park Relocation Update

Riverman1
94225
Points
Riverman1 01/04/14 - 12:39 pm
9
0
Just Give Me Sumptin

LL, what Mary Davis said was pretty funny. I think it was one of those remarks you throw out when you can't think of anything else. It's a wonder she didn't say work to build a corridor from the Fort to GRU. Of course she previously worked for Deke. Figures.

But you got to like Wayne Guilfoyle. He just said he wanted sumptin.

Little Lamb
49245
Points
Little Lamb 01/04/14 - 12:55 pm
4
0
From the Fort to Grooo

So Mary Davis declined to elaborate on her Fort Gordon to Grooo project. Well, I can spill the beans on her secret.

She is planning to put on the SPLOST list a monorail that runs from Gate 1 to the Grooo Summerville Campus. It will be free to all Grooo students.

Riverman1
94225
Points
Riverman1 01/04/14 - 01:10 pm
5
0
Shirts vs Skins

In reference to the county giving Paine College money, Countyman said, "The citizens of Richmond County can use the workout area in the HEAL building for free..."

Yeah, buddy. I bet the people on the Hill take advantage of that. Go down there and play a little B-ball.

jwilliams
1117
Points
jwilliams 01/04/14 - 01:24 pm
3
2
Taken from this article,

Taken from this article, “It’s time again for Augusta leaders to decide which construction projects to ask voters to fund by extending the 1 percent special purpose local option sales tax.” Commissioner Mary Davis said the next tax package should be used to support the growth of Georgia Regents University and Fort Gordon, but she declined to elaborate. Before Mary Davis asks anyone to “VOTE” for anything, she needs to practice what she is preaching. Taken from an Augusta Chronicle article by Susan McCord and Sandy Hodson titled, “Voting records of Augusta Commission, school board candidates examined.”Voting least often was District 3 commission hopeful Mary Fair Davis, who cast a ballot in only 15 of 33 opportunities, or 45 percent. Davis, who served as Mayor Deke Copenhaver’s campaign manager in 2005 and 2006, was surprised (yeah right) to learn she missed so many, including the 2009 District 3 commission race (wow, she didn’t even vote for her friend and endorser Joe Bowles).“On the occasions that I may not have voted, I was thinking that I was just one vote and my vote would not make a difference,” Davis said. “Now I know differently. Even if you think your vote doesn’t count, it does, because your vote is your voice.” Now remember, she made this revelation while asking for “OUR VOTE.” So was there really any truth to her statement? If she had not decided to run for office, would she still feel this way? Have the voters of precincts 306/310 that were asked to give their vote to her seen or heard from Davis since her win? Has Davis scheduled any informational meetings for “ALL” the residents of 306/310 (that she said she would do during her various presentations around the district)? Has Davis done a good job? I will let the great voters of precincts 306 and 310 decide. Finally, I would implore Mrs. Davis to please use her right to vote (while asking others to vote), so as not to disrespect the many great “WOMEN” voters in ARC and the struggle of Susan B. Anthony and the Women Suffrage movement. With early voting and absentee ballots, there is “NO EXCUSE” for not voting, especially form a person asking others to vote for them or their agenda. Wake up ARC!

nocnoc
49498
Points
nocnoc 01/04/14 - 01:58 pm
3
0
How many of you Democrats and Liberals feel

Tax Enough Already?

Governments ability to Tax must be regulated by the people.
Because given all the added taxes, bonds and spending
they have shown if not proven they have no control.

The Tea Party welcomes you.☺☻

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