Augusta ended 2007 with $5.5 million more in special purpose local option sales tax money than expected, signaling a stronger-than-expected local economy, city officials said Thursday.
"Obviously, people are spending money in Richmond County ahead of what we thought they would," said Mayor Deke Copenhaver. "We're on an upward trend, which is ironic when the rest of the country is talking about recession."
City Administrator Fred Russell said that despite economic growth in Columbia County, Augusta's retail market appears very strong.
"We are the hub of the area, and we have opportunities you might not find in some of the suburbs," he said. "Coupling that with our continued growth and the strength of our market, the numbers are coming in very well."
Mr. Russell expects to start planning for the next sales tax project list in March. That list might include:
- Performing arts center
- Entertainment venues
- One or two jail pods
- Augusta Canal improvements
- Roads, streets, drainage
BY THE NUMBERS
$32 MILLION: 2007 collections (expected)
$37.58 MILLION: 2007 collections (actual)
$60.7 MILLION: Total special purpose local option sales tax collections as of Dec. 31
$160 MILLION: Sales tax collection cap
JANUARY 2011: Initial projection to reach cap
OCTOBER 2010: Current projection to reach cap
-- Compiled by Staff Writer Sylvia Cooper
ACROSS THE NATION: BUSINESS IS SLOW
'The outlook for the economy has worsened' -- BEN BERNANKE
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told a congressional hearing Thursday that he did not predict a recession, instead foreseeing a period of sluggish growth.
Mr. Bernanke signaled that the Fed will cut interest rate cuts further if needed to combat the adverse effects of a prolonged housing slump and a severe credit crisis.