Originally created 08/19/04

Special sales tax revenue expands



Some might question whether the nation's economy is headed up or down, but in Columbia County there's no doubt that sales tax revenue is skyrocketing.

In a report recently released by Leanne DeLoach, the county's director of financial services, commissioners were told that collections from the county's current special purpose local option sales tax have increased by nearly 15 percent in the past 12 months.

"In the past few months, we've really been getting in some good checks," Ms. DeLoach said.

The figures came as good news to commissioners.

"Keep shopping!" Commissioner Diane Ford happily exclaimed after hearing the report in a committee meeting.

To residents, the increase basically means more road projects, park upgrades and passive recreation improvements, plus an earlier start to work on the Augusta Canal head gates.

Projects to be funded by the 1-cent sales tax, which started in 2001 and ends Dec. 31, 2005, were ranked in three tiers.

Conservative projections before the tax started predicted the four-year span of special purpose sales tax collections would only be able to address tier one projects, at a total cost of $40 million.

Now, though, officials say they expect to reach the $40 million mark by October or November, meaning tier two projects can start then.

In the tier one list, $830,000 had been set aside for passive recreation and greenway projects. Tier two, however, will allocate an additional $500,000 for such work.

County parks also are set to receive an extra $500,000 in tier two for upgrades, including parking and restrooms.

Reach Preston Sparks at 868-1222, ext. 115, or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.



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