News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, November 29, 2010
AUGUSTA---Augusta city leaders are looking for ways to make money, and you could end up footing the bill. Fees on business and alcohol licenses are going up. Store owners are now promising to pass that cost on to you.
From adult entertainment to adult beverages...get ready to pay more. Fees are going up.
"Why pick on a few when you can pick on everyone?" said store owner Bill Prince. "Let everyone carry the load."
City leaders say this is no time for a tax increase, but it seems increased fees on selling and serving alcohol is a different story.
"What's the difference between a fee and a tax?" said Prince. "It still comes out of your pocket."
The license and inspections department is recommending a 10 percent increase for alcohol and business license fees. The increased fees would generate about $350,000.
"It's the cost of doing business," said Rob Sherman, director of License and Inspections. "These are taxes."
Businesses would have to fork over as much as $500 more a year in taxes.
"It's not a significant amount," said Sherman.
It is significant enough to leave customers making up the difference.
"I gotta get the $500 from somewhere," said Prince. "The only place I get it from is the consumer."
The new fees on booze and business will help fill a $9 million budget hole.
"Will that solve our budget woes? No," said commissioner Jerry Brigham. "Will it help? Yes."
"They pick on the cigarette industry and the alcohol industry every time," said Prince. "They never miss."
The public services committee voted unanimously in favor of the idea. It now goes to the full commission next Tuesday. There is a public hearing before that meeting. It's your first and last chance to weigh in.