Fire tax has some questioning budget process

Augusta, Georgia Seal graphic
Augusta, Georgia Seal graphic

AUGUSTA,Ga (WJBF) For the Fire Department City budget writers say it’s time for a for a tax increase to bring on one and half million dollars,

“Now as we look at having a class one fire department we got to make the investment to maintain that and hopefully people will see a savings on their insurance rate,” says City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson.”

Some City leaders saw the tax hikes as necessary at first, but now are not so sure.

“Just the other day I was in a different position to automatically support it but based on some questions that has come up around it I’m willing to look at having a discussion on whether we should do that all,” says Commissioner Ben Hasan.

As a department with its own revenue the fire department is charged what’s called an Indirect Cost Allocation, money going to the general fund to help pay for things like purchasing, payroll, and HR.

In 2017, the fire departments allocation was a little over 600 thousand dollars, the administrators recommendation for next year over 800 thousand dollars   that a more than 231 thousand dollar   increase meaning  a big  portion of the tax hike is going to fund regular government services.

“I heard bits and pieces about that George, that’s another way of back dooring  stuff that’s another way of coming in from another angle,” said Commissioner Marion Williams.

Is that trying to say we didn’t raise property taxes but if you take more from the fire tax and put it in the General Fund Is this back-door?”

 

It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, and this government has to stop doing this,” says Commissioner Sean Frantom.

 

Fire Chief Chris James says he’s concerned by the large increase in the allocation and says he wants to meet with finance officials to determine exactly how the numbers are calculated.

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