City administrator axes tax increase, recommends new fee

By: Chris Thomas Email
By: Chris Thomas Email

News 12 at six o'clock, November 12, 2008

Augusta, GA---If you live in Augusta, your city taxes may not be going up after all. The city is short $3.4 million. City administrator Fred Russell had recommended a tax increase, but now a new plan is emerging.

Joe Holland is a regular guy who calls Augusta home. Word of a tax increase left him perplexed.

"I was thinking I'm already kinda hurting," said Joe.

What's the old saying? Nothing is certain but death and taxes. Things may be turning around. For the second year in a row the city administrator is recommending not increasing taxes.

"Believe it when I see it," said Joe.

So what's fueling the turn-around? Gas prices are down. That will save the city more than $700,000.
There's a suggested new fee for deputies and firefighters having to respond to false alarms more than three times. This would generate close to $200,000.

"There's no need for you as a taxpayer to repeatedly send a police officer or firefighter to a business that doesn't fix their alarm," said city administrator Fred Russell.

He has the task of laying out a plan to dig the city out a more than $3 million hole.

"It's tough on people," said Russell. "If we can tighten our belt and keep them from spending that tax dollar...I think that's what the commission was after."

Taking $1 million from the city's general fund balance seals the deal. Our average Joe is grateful.

"I've had people come up to me and say can you help me get some milk for the family," said Joe. "That's pretty rough. I'd say the people need a break."

This latest move takes the city's rainy day fund down to $10 million.

The city plans to draw up a false alarm ordinance. The city administrator says 911 will track the calls. On the 4th false alarm you'll receive a bill in the mail.


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