Decisions on new commissioner, license fee increases tabled

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September 5, 2006

Augusta commissioners met this afternoon, but very few of them actually decided to attend their regular meeting.

Ultimately, those who were there decided to hold off on taking two big votes today.

Those two big votes were appointing a new district four interim commissioner after Keith Brown's resignation and deciding on whether to increase business and alcohol license fees to help balance next year's budget.

There were some empty seats at today's meeting. Brown's seat is still vacant, and three commissioners weren't present. Some were still out of town from the holiday.

That means any decision today would have required unanimous consent.

The proposed increases included a five percent increase in alcohol license fees and a ten percent business tax hike. The plan had already gotten the okay in committee, and there was a motion to approve it before the full commission today.

It didn't have enough support today...but some business owners seemed to be okay with the plan.

"If they're going to have an increase in fees, that's fine as long as they are fair with it," says Augusta business owner Denise Lucas. "They say they haven't had an increase since 2000. This is 2006. We understand the county has to have money to run."

"I think it's going to cause some hardship on some of the general merchants that are in Richmond County," said Augusta commissioner Jerry Brigham.

The matter has been tabled until the next meeting, but city administrator Fred Russell is hoping commissioners will decide something soon, because their decision on whether or not to increase these fees directly affects plans for next year's budget.