Is Columbia County To Blame For Augusta’s Sales Tax Decline

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Rashell Dorsey lives in Augusta, but was doing her shopping in Columbia County, store selection is one reason.

“Kohl's, the Baby's R Us Toys R Us does not always have baby items so when I had my first child I was always out here,” says Dorsey.

And when an Augustan is shopping out here in Columbia County they're not spending money and generating sales taxes in Augusta.

“If I need to come to Columbia County, I definitely come out here and get it done, or if I'm on this side of town I shop here, said Nikki Schoenfelder, who also lives in Augusta, and she's making the trip she use to.

“I am,” she said.  

Augusta shoppers are going to Columbia County, but some Columbia County shoppers have stopped coming to Augusta.

Keena Bell use to live in Augusta but moved to Grovetown, and she now is not going to Augusta in favor of shops in Columbia County.

“Yes we have, we come out here as much as we can, we try to avoid Augusta as much as we can, it's cluttered it's messy there's too many people,” said Bell.

So is Columbia County helping a mess of Augusta's sale tax collections?

One penny of Augusta's tax is called the Local Option Sales Tax; those dollars go directly into the General Fund to offset property taxes.

Through March those dollars are down by more than a half a million dollars compared to 2012.

Augusta's City Administrator feels Columbia County does have an impact on Augusta's sales tax collections but there are other issues like the new state law that allows manufacturers not to pay sales taxes on the energy they buy.

“We made some projections what we thought were good numbers the sale tax they've totally changed the game totally,” said Russell.

Columbia County is having a better game than Augusta when it comes to sales taxes but there are still problems,

County Administrator Scott Johnson says collections are up compared to last year; however collections are running below what was budgeted for the year.

“Really I think there's an issue with the Department of Revenue with how this tax is collected and how it's dispersed our numbers right now our actually down as well even  though were doing good in Columbia County they're not hitting  the types of expectations we had for them,” said Johnson.

Even with shoppers from Augusta helping out.

Sales Taxes do not go to local governments and instead go to the Department of Revenue first.

The Department of Revenue provides no information on how much was collected for each store.

Something both Russell and Scott Johnson would like to see changed.




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