Originally created 08/31/02

Revenue increase tops agenda

A panel of Augusta commissioners has endorsed a legislative agenda that, if implemented on the state level, aims to increase city revenues.

Notably absent from that agenda, however, is any legislation that would make changes to city government operations, including anything to address recent concerns about the Augusta Coliseum Authority.

The agenda, which was tentatively approved by the Augusta Commission's legislative subcommittee Friday afternoon, also does not address one of last year's most-debated issues regarding the structure of city government. State delegates spent much of last year's legislative session considering several bills that proposed changes to Augusta government, such as giving the mayor veto power and eliminating abstentions by commissioners.

Next year's recommended agenda will go before Augusta commissioners for approval Tuesday. If the full Commission votes in favor of the list, it will be forwarded to a joint committee of legislative delegates and commissioners for consideration.

The items recommended for state consideration are:

  • Adding surcharges or increasing filing fees to offset rising costs in the judicial system
  • Increasing 911 fees to cover the cost of operating a 911 center
  • Changing eviction laws to eliminate having to put evicted belongings on the right of way
  • State funding for local museums, including the Augusta Museum, the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History and the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame
  • The creation of a discretionary sales tax that could be used for public safety costs
  • The replacement of insurance premium tax dollars that were lost last year as a result of 2000 U.S. Census figures
  • Last year commissioners submitted a wish list of legislative items that was too large to work with, state delegates said. This year's agenda is being limited so state officials will be better able to act on recommended legislation.

    Other commissioners may add items such as government structure and abolishing the Coliseum Authority next week, Commissioner Lee Beard said. But other revenue-related items seemed more pressing, he said.

    Commissioner Tommy Boyles agreed.

    "The first priority is to come out with some kind of increase in revenue," Mr. Boyles said.

    Reach Heidi Coryell Williams at (706) 823-3215 or heidi.williams@augustachronicle.com.


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