Originally created 12/16/06

Balanced budget, tax rollback are priorities



A tax rollback might be approved. Dozens of bond projects will get started. And an impact fee and arena feasibility study will be discussed.

All were added to the 2007 to-do list for Columbia County commissioners as they wrapped up a planning advance Friday for the coming year.

"The top priority for us is to continue to have a balanced budget and have a rollback on the property taxes,'' said Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross by cell phone while returning from the event held at Reynolds Plantation at Lake Oconee.

Mr. Cross said in light of Columbia County reaping record high sales tax dollars from many new businesses, the commission will consider a rollback of the county millage next year, which for some homeowners could reduce their property tax.

"The board is pretty much united in that that is the one thing that we'd most like to see in 2007, so we're going to work toward that,'' he said.

Besides taxes, the commission also focused in its yearly agenda-setting meeting on the upcoming implementation of about $43 million in projects voters approved with a bond issue in November.

"That's going to be a real massive thing with 42 different projects,'' Mr. Cross said. "That's going to be a challenge.''

Mr. Cross said the commission also concurred on such 2007 initiatives as beginning talks about how an impact fee might be charged on new development to be used for public safety needs. He said discussions likely would begin no later than March.

An impact fee is a charge made to a developer based on costs that occur as a result of new growth.

Concerning the possibility of Columbia County having its own sports and entertainment arena one day, Mr. Cross said commissioners would like to again consider in 2007 funding a feasibility study at $75,000.

Mr. Cross said there was discussion about who might serve as vice chairman of the board in 2007. Mr. Cross said that decision will be voted on by the board at its Jan. 2 meeting, but he would favor District 4 Commissioner Lee Anderson because he is the most senior member of the board to have not yet served as vice chairman.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.