Officials mull raising sales tax

Special
Don Grantham requested a resolution to increase the city's sales tax by 1 cent.

An Augusta Commission committee didn't say yes and didn't say no Monday to Commissioner Don Grantham's request for a resolution to increase the city's local option sales tax another penny.

The administrative services committee voted to send the proposal to the full commission next Tuesday without a recommendation after agreeing they need more information on exactly how the money would be spent and what services taxpayers would get in return.

THE PROPOSAL

Ask the Richmond County legislative delegation to pass a bill calling for a November referendum that would allow voters to decide whether they want to pay another penny on the dollar to fund increased public safety, public transit and property-tax relief. The tax increase would bring Richmond County's sales tax to 8 cents on a dollar, compared with Columbia and Aiken counties' 7 cents on a dollar.

THE MONEY

Q: How much money would the tax raise annually?

A: From $32 million to $37 million

Q: How much would be used for public safety and transit?

A: From $22 million to $23 million

Q. Where would the rest of the money go?

A: A 2- to 4.5-mill tax mill rollback; Cash reserve fund

COMMISSIONERS' CONCERNS

- The effect on Augusta's economy.

- The higher tax could drive shoppers to surrounding counties to shop.

- Lack of a specific budget.

- What parts of the county that now have no public transportation would get it.

-- Sylvia Cooper