News 12 First at Five/ Monday, Aug. 11, 2014
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- A property tax increase in Augusta could be one week a way from becoming final.
The city held its first of three public hearing Monday morning and a lot of unhappy homeowners showed up.
A crowd of about 75 listened to city leaders spout off all the reasons why commissioners are asking to raise their property taxes. The same crowd had its own reasons for their taxes to be lowered.
"You all need to get a calculator. If you do have one it's probably like this one, it just doesn't work," said property owner Hugh Fuller.
"I don't like the idea of another tax," said homeowner Gene Salet.
City officials blamed the ice storm that depleted emergency accounts. They also talked about how the loss of an energy tax could cost their budget $4 million by 2016. Commissioner Mary Davis told the crowd they've cut as much as they can for the 2014 budget year.
"They should cut their travel. Everybody else has to live within a budget, we are cutting our budgets. I cut my travel and vacations," said property owner Nellie Cook.
A few weeks back Commissioners Marion Williams, Alvin Mason and Bill Lockett spent around $2,000 taxpayer each on a trip to New Orleans. Around the same time, 13 employees spent more than $30,000 on a week stay at the Disney Land Hotel and resort for a conference.
"It's a done deal. They are listening and they know. I think Donnie Smith sympathizes with us and I think they understand," Salet said.
City leaders said the increase will give a $500 raise to employees and keep the city from going into their savings account. Homeowners said this increase could cause them to go into their savings.