All About the Mission - August 24
As I shared a few weeks ago, the Chamber is closely watching the actions of the Augusta-Richmond Commission in determining the 2022 property tax rates. Based on a record-setting increase in the county’s tax digest, at question is whether to adopt the calculated roll rates based on the new digest which will guarantee the same amount of revenue for the county as it had in 2021; or adopt rates higher than the roll back rates. Keep in mind that most properties assessments in the county, both residential and commercial, have already appraised higher in value than a year ago with the digest itself increasing by over 16%.
At its special called meeting on August 11th, 5 members of the A-RC Commission and the Mayor voted to oppose an increase of 1.532 mills for property within the Urban Service District and .994 mills for property outside the USD. Considering an estimated 45% of property in the county is commercially owned, we have calculated that these proposed new rates would have resulted in a tax increase to business this year of around $3MM.
In representing nearly 750 members doing business in Augusta-Richmond County, the Chamber is working to deliver a message that an increase of 1 to 1 ½ mills is a substantial increase to the cost of doing business, especially at a time when businesses, especially the smallest of businesses still recovering from the pandemic, cannot afford. When factoring in higher costs for competitive wages and cost of goods, any new tax on business is counter productive to our economy at this time, especially when it does not appear that the county requires any additional funding beyond the roll back rates to balance the 2022 budget.
Since the Augusta-Richmond County Commission has yet to formally adopt the 2022 tax rates, we would encourage our members to reach out and inform your district commissioners to keep property tax rates consistent with 2021. With Georgia inflation rates now over 11% and the threat of a recession on the horizon, our local government needs to hear that a balanced approach to budgeting is needed now more than ever.