Insurance, property tax rate increases approved

Christy Howell-Hoots - [email protected]

AUGUSTA — An insurance tax increase of 3 percent was approved in a second reading during a special meeting of the Augusta City Council Wednesday.

During the meeting, council members approved raising the insurance tax to 8 percent from 5 percent. The change will take affect on July 1, 2019.

The only member of council to vote against the raise was Joe Goecke, who suggested raising the rate to 6.5 percent and raising other rates in order to make it more equitable for citizens of Augusta.

“I want to raise it to about 6.5 percent and then raise other rates in order to make it fair to everyone in the city,” he said. “I think we should spread it out some.”

Goecke made the motion, but it failed to gain a second. A motion was made to approve the second reading of the 8 percent and passed with five of the six council members voting in favor.

According to Augusta City Clerk Gretchen England, the insurance tax has only been raised twice, once in 1984 and once in 2001.

According to England, the additional 3 percent will raise the city’s revenue by $46,000.

Goecke asked if the motion could be overturned next year, when the new council members take office.

Augusta City Attorney Cynthia Thompson said the next council could overturn the motion if they did so before it began on July 1, 2019.

During the meeting, council also approved a possible 4 percent increase for the property tax rate.

The rate last year was .305 cents per $100 of assessed value. The new rate, had the council approved the compensating rate, would have been .299.

The compensating rate is a rate that would allow the city to bring in the same amount of revenue as the previous year.

Council Member Tay Kelsch suggested taking a 4 percent increase, which would raise the rate to .310 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Kelsch, Jackie McMurrin and Matt McCane voted in favor of the measure, while Tina Sticklen, Goecke and Larry Bradley voted against it, leaving the deciding vote up to Mayor Wendell High.

“The measure is approved,” High said. “The city needs the extra income.”

Before the rate can be approved, however, a public hearing must be held. The hearing will be scheduled for a later date.

The other tax rates approved at the meeting included:

— Personal property, .50

— Recreation real property, .049

— Recreation personal property, .0951

— Library real property, .045

— Library personal property, .0829

— Motor Vehicle, .185

Christy Howell-Hoots

[email protected]