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Energy tax discussed by Columbia County Commission

Posted: December 4, 2012 - 8:38pm  |  Updated: December 5, 2012 - 9:28am

Twitter @StevenUhles


To tax or not to tax, that is the question.

The Columbia County Board of Commissioners spent most of Tuesday’s meeting discussing whether the county should or should not impose an excise tax on the sale, use, storage and consumption of energy by industry.

The state recently gave each of 159 designated districts, defined as either counties or municipalities, the option to make up for tax revenue lost to the Georgia’s manufacturing sales tax exemption with a local energy tax. In Columbia County, that would mean manufacturers, who under the state mandate will see their tax bill drop from 7 percent to 1 percent, would instead have to pay 3 percent. While the Board of Commissioners did not, nor were they allowed to, make a decision regarding Columbia County’s official stance on the tax, all seemed to favor imposing it.

“(The state) gets the credit for supporting industry and we get to be the bad guys,” said Commission Chairman Ron Cross.

The argument against the tax hinges on growth and supporting not only industry already established in the state generally and Columbia County specifically, but also the ability to attract new industry.

Mike Hogan, the plant manager at the John Deere factory outside Grovetown, said that profit margins for industry are becoming increasingly slim, necessitating measures like the tax break for American companies to remain competitive.

“We are in a very competitive business, on a worldwide basis,” he told the board. “Every dollar counts. It’s about employment. We want to expand. We want to expand here in Columbia County. Remaining competitive is going to be an important part of that.”

Although no decision can be made as to whether or not the county will waive or collect the tax, the commissioners unanimously voted to start the official process of establishing a taxation package. Under Georgia law, a county must meet with all incorporated municipalities within its borders, Harlem and Grovetown in the case of Columbia County, at least 30 days before adoption. The purpose is to determine whether those municipalities will choose to collect the tax for industry within city limits or allow the county to. Proceeds from the tax may be used as the collector, be it municipality or county, sees fit. The meetings, approved by the Commissioners, will occur at least 10 days after Jan. 1.

“We want to support industry,” said Commissioner Trey Allen. “And certainly tax relief is an important component. But so is quality of life and that 2 percent would go toward that.”

In other actions, commissioners tabled a request to rezone parcels on Rose Lane until the Dec. 18 commission meeting and to postpone a request to approve a PUD revision for the Crawford Creek community until March. The commission approved the purchase of 8.3 acres on Point Comfort Road, adjacent to the county's water treatment plant, from Allen Morris for $274,000.

Morris is the brother of Commissioner William Morris, who was not present for the vote nor participated in the negotiations.

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Comments (7)


What Industry?

Food and retail?

Barry Paschal

"What industry"?

"What industry," soapy_725? Surely you're joking. Do Club Car, John Deere, Serta, Georgia Iron Works, Tracy-Luckey or World Color ring a bell?

Many Arrows

Tax Increases on Real People, Tax Cuts for Corporate 'People'

Georgia and its political subdivisions incurred all manner of obligated costs that were predicated upon the energy tax. Whose pensions, benefits, and guarantees get cut? None. Imposing this compensating tax is fiscally and financially responsible.

Try cutting the costs that the energy tax exemption funds first, then maybe cut taxes.

Mr. Thackeray

How about we just spend LESS

How about we just spend LESS money???


Let me expalin

Currently GA imposes a sales tax on electricity used in manufacturing. The state passed the house bill exempting the sales tax (except for the educational local option). This exemption is being phased in over a 4 year period. The local municipalities were given the option to impose an excise tax on the sales of electricity to manufacturers in order to compensate for the lost sales tax revenue. Richmond County is leaning towards not imposing the excise tax.

Many Arrows is right; no corporate benefits/pensions get cut. BUT in an economy when corporations are laying people off, this is a great benefit. There are local manufactures that average $5000 in sales tax per month on their GA Power bills. That's $60K per year they will save at full phase in of the exemption. That's someone's job, maybe two.

Many Arrows

Pensions are over 25 years

So the 4 year phase in of the exemption only slightly mitigates the financial damage. That $60,000 is going to come out of taxes on real Georgians.

Many Arrows

Pensions are over 25 years

So the 4 year phase in of the exemption only slightly mitigates the financial damage. That $60,000 is going to come out of taxes on real Georgians.