Tax revenue surprises city

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'We're on an upward trend, which is ironic' -- MAYOR DEKE COPENHAVER

BULLISH IN AUGUSTA

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave a pessimistic assessment of the economy.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave a pessimistic assessment of the economy.

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."

FRED SAID

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."

PLANNING AHEAD

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.

Comments (22) Add comment
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nonumberplease
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nonumberplease 02/15/08 - 04:28 am
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I am sure that fred russell

I am sure that fred russell will give property owners some relief
with the extra funds, right fred!

DeborahElliott2
4
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DeborahElliott2 02/15/08 - 04:44 am
0
0
They are getting cocky again,

They are getting cocky again, if they know what is good for them, they will try to keep that in the bank to draw interest instead of spending it foolishly. Yes, this means that they got an extra 5 million in which should be used for our school system. But if they spend it too soon, and this is just the tip of the recession that should last longer than anybody anticipates, then what? They won't be able to raise the taxes as people are all ready going broke and losing jobs. This is an indication to pull back from some of their projects right now and leave the money to build up so as to continue this growth.

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 02/15/08 - 05:29 am
0
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The way I see it, they have

The way I see it, they have pulled back from the projects and we are still having to raise taxes. Probably from paying law suits due to the bidding wars. Meanwhile N. Augusta is looking good. Have you seen the other side of the river lately?

pointstoponder
621
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pointstoponder 02/15/08 - 05:33 am
0
0
I cannot believe how

I cannot believe how uninformed some people are. The Board of Education has their own sales tax. They receive roughly 75% of all property taxes you pay yet you persist in blaming all that on the Commission. Yes they're a bit dysfunctional, but wow. Oh yeah, and reading comprehension is not too strong either. It is NOT an extra $5mil. There is a cap on total collections. They just are ahead on collections.

scrapple
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scrapple 02/15/08 - 05:56 am
0
0
Maybe they could fix those

Maybe they could fix those sinkholes downtown:)

Waymore
114
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Waymore 02/15/08 - 06:42 am
0
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Maybe Richmond County

Maybe Richmond County employees can get another measly 3 percent pay raise this year instead of 3 years from now....

Little Lamb
49247
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Little Lamb 02/15/08 - 09:03 am
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Srapple has a good point.

Srapple has a good point. The first SPLOST projects included road resurfacings and infrastructure improvements. Now it all entertainment projects that get the nod. Our roads, ditches, storm sewers, etc. need more work before the taxpayers fund a "performing arts center."

gijoe7898
0
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gijoe7898 02/15/08 - 11:54 am
0
0
And SPLOST was suppose to be

And SPLOST was suppose to be a temporary tax. Show me a tax that politicians ever gave up. Just watch, they'll spend all this and forecast even more expected revenue for next year.
Commissioners, take care of this money as you would your own.

MartinezWest Augusta
2
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MartinezWest Augusta 02/15/08 - 01:44 pm
0
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They haven't pulled back from

They haven't pulled back from any projects at all. The library, judicial center, whites building, and the convention center. When you see two 10 floor condos going up in downtown augusta. So tell me who side of the river is booming.

MartinezWest Augusta
2
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MartinezWest Augusta 02/15/08 - 02:16 pm
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Augusta is realizing its

Augusta is realizing its potential.!

MartinezWest Augusta
2
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MartinezWest Augusta 02/15/08 - 02:17 pm
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Some people in augusta are

Some people in augusta are always so negative. Mayor deke is doing a great job for the city of augusta.

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 02/15/08 - 03:26 pm
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Mayor Deke has not done much

Mayor Deke has not done much for the city of Augusta. it's still dysfunctional. Taxes keep going up and more lawsuits.

jamc1103
141
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jamc1103 02/15/08 - 03:27 pm
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If you know anything about

If you know anything about the SPLOST funds Waymore, you would know that they can't be used to give you a raise. The funds were approved by taxpayers to fund a certain list of projects. Same goes for using the funds for the BOE, the commission can't use the funds for that dept.

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 02/15/08 - 03:29 pm
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There should be more money to

There should be more money to build Jails! not ball parks!

MartinezWest Augusta
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MartinezWest Augusta 02/15/08 - 05:42 pm
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Build more jails for what you

Build more jails for what you definitely need to leave augusta then. The ball park will be a multi-use facility. With parks, shops, and resturants. You sound like a good ole boy just want to build prisons. People don't visit a city because it has new jails. Mayor Deke there will always be negative people just keep doing a great job for augusta.

MartinezWest Augusta
2
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MartinezWest Augusta 02/15/08 - 05:46 pm
0
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Augusta has some of the

Augusta has some of the lowest taxes in the united states. Fedup i think misery loves company. Augusta mall, sibley mill, whites building, and the watermark conods are all or have been develop while the mayor was deke copenhaver. Even the kroc center and the mlk memorial are being develop while the mayor is deke. Like i said keep up the good work deke that you are doing for augusta.

SargentMidTown
8
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SargentMidTown 02/15/08 - 08:06 pm
0
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Please help Harrisburg by

Please help Harrisburg by helping us get rid of the riff raff. Use a little bit of that money to help get rid of the riff raff and private
investment will flurish. www.hongkongaugustaga.org

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 02/15/08 - 08:13 pm
0
0
It's not being negative to

It's not being negative to say we have been paying for law suits. We would be ahead if it were not for them. The money lost in law suits could have covered alot of raises for the county employees. We have a ball park, it wasn't just built. The Augusta Mall has been here since I was a teen. The only new things are the convention center which we need to start on and are waiting on a hotel tax to pass not SPLOST. We have a vacant lot where a nice shopping center stalled. I'm not looking for a condo to buy or look at.

Augusta resident
1368
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Augusta resident 02/15/08 - 08:17 pm
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How much future SPLOST money

How much future SPLOST money have we borrowed against and spent allready? Where did that money go? How much do we owe? What is a bond repayment? Arewe still facing law suits for mold at the jail? Did a judge allready tell us to fix it?

MartinezWest Augusta
2
Points
MartinezWest Augusta 02/16/08 - 12:22 am
0
0
The lifestyle portion of the

The lifestyle portion of the augusta mall just got there in 2007. And the judicial center, kroc center, whites building, library, village at riverwactch, forum augusta, and are all new things. There is alot of postive things going on in augusta. Every city in america has a lawsuit at one point in time. Some people in augusta only want to focus on small negative things.

joesimpson
0
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joesimpson 02/16/08 - 05:50 am
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Oh yeah and don't forget all

Oh yeah and don't forget all those great High Schools and Middle Schools in Augusta that aren't on the needs to improve list.....oh wait there are only 3 that aren't on that list. I'd say that would be the first thing Augusta needs to work on. That's how you keep your upper middle class tax base. That's the real reason people leave cities in droves. When your child comes home and tells you he doesn't feel safe using the restroom at school then it's time to make a change. Take back the classrooms!! An education should be something that is earned. If you have kids causing problems put them out..FOREVER!!! That's the bottom line. I'm not trashing Augusta I was born and raised there, but when the Supt of schools cares more about his paycheck than the way the schools run you got problems. I hope the new Supt. turns things around for the better. I wish him all the luck in the world!!

augustalover
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augustalover 02/19/08 - 01:12 pm
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SPLOST funding is for Special

SPLOST funding is for Special Purpose. If we forget the reason for the collections and depend on the tax for basic items we have defeated the purpose of the Special tax. We have not reched the collection cap yet, we are simply ahead of projections for 2007. This is good news. People are shopping in the county. the beauty of sales tax is that's is collected form all shoppers, residents, visitors, home owners, students- a very fair way to collect money. We need a Performing Arts Center- the SPLOST is a great way to raise funds, not just homeowners contribute!

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