Augusta’s economy is based on several sectors, and one of those sectors has been preeminent for over 150 years. It also happens to be the sector that has seen the greatest impact of the globalization of commerce. That sector is manufacturing.
In response to the long-term challenges that the state of Georgia has faced in keeping its manufacturers competitive within the United States and around the world, the Georgia General Assembly decided to phase out collection of sales taxes on energy used for the manufacturing of goods. Georgia was among relatively few states that collected such taxes, and virtually alone in the southeast region.
This fact was repeatedly cited by industry as a factor in decisions regarding the location of new facilities and the competitiveness of existing Georgia facilities.
As a part of this change, the General Assembly enabled counties to establish an excise tax to replace revenue from local sales taxes on energy used for manufacturing. The Augusta Metro Chamber maintains, however, that imposing a new excise tax on manufacturers would seriously diminish our ability to compete for new manufacturing investment. It would also place a significant number of existing manufacturing jobs at risk.
Richmond County’s ability to levy this new tax on our manufacturers began in 2013, and we applaud the decision of the Augusta Richmond County Commission to refrain from implementing the tax for this fiscal year. Moving forward, we implore our commission to continue such restraint.
The chamber recognizes that, due to numerous changes, local revenues have become harder to predict and have sometimes decreased. However, to single out one business sector, and one of the largest, in an attempt to recoup funds would be a mistake. Augusta-Richmond County needs to be competitive, and any taxes that can be avoided by locating outside of our county will work against our larger goal to expand industry in the county and create jobs for our citizens.
The Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce requests that members of the Augusta-Richmond County Commission keep the county as competitive as possible by keeping energy used for manufacturing tax-free.
Susan E. Parr
(The writer is president/CEO of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce.)