650-plus turned out Satur­day for Great Amer­i­can Cleanup

The Covington News - - Local - GABRIEL KHOULI Staff Re­porter

To­tally re­vamp­ing taxes paid on cars was one of the most sig­nif­i­cant changes in H.B. 316. Cur­rently, Ge­or­gians pay two taxes on their car, a sales tax when they pur­chase the car and an an­nual ad val­orem tax that is due on the owner’s birth­day.

H.B. 315 does away with both of those taxes and re­places them with a sin­gle 7 per­cent ti­tle fee that is charged when­ever a car is reg­is­tered in the state. (The fee will ac­tu­ally start at 6.5 per­cent and even­tu­ally in­crease to 7 per­cent.)

All car sales will be sub­ject to this, in­clud­ing sales be­tween two pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als; pre­vi­ously only sales by busi­nesses were sub­ject to sales tax. Sales be­tween fam­ily mem­bers will not be af­fected.

“Aside from elim­i­nat­ing the po­lit­i­cally-un­pop­u­lar “birth­day tax,” this re­form would in­crease state rev­enue by ex­tend­ing mo­tor ve­hi­cle taxes to two types of ve­hi­cles not cur­rently sub­ject to Ge­or­gia’s sales tax: ve­hi­cles sold be­tween in­di­vid­u­als (“ca­sual sales”) and au­tos pur­chased out of state,” ac­cord­ing to the bud­get pol­icy in­sti­tute an­a­lyst Wes­ley Tharpe.

Ginn Chevro­let Owner Billy Fort­son said the change will level the play­ing field be­tween of­fi­cial car deal­ers and in­di­vid­u­als who buy and sell cars with­out a li­cense.

“We have some peo­ple who are re­ally in car busi­ness with­out a li­cense and are not col­lect­ing sales taxes. They’ll buy cars on sale and then put it in their front yard and sell it for a profit and then do the same thing again,” Fort­son said.

The bud­get pol­icy in­sti­tute es­ti­mates this will be the big rev­enue gen­er­a­tor for the state, bring­ing in $503 mil­lion dur­ing the next three bud­get years and help­ing to off­set many of the tax breaks in­cluded in the bill.

While the bill will bring in money to the state, it is likely to greatly re­duce rev­enue earned by lo­cal coun­ties over time. Since the 7 per­cent sales tax and 7 per­cent ti­tle fee es­sen­tially can­cel each other out, res­i­dents are sav­ing money by not hav­ing to pay an­nual taxes on their car.

The state cap­tures only a very small por­tion of that an­nual ad val­orem, or prop­erty, tax; how­ever, lo­cal gov­ern­ments de­pend on prop­erty taxes for much of their rev­enue. Cur­rently, on a $20,000 car, the state would col­lect only $2 per year, while New­ton County col­lects $87.28 per year.

As of cal­en­dar year 2011, the county had roughly 100,000 ve­hi­cles on its di­gest val­ued at $569 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Chief Tax Ap­praiser Tommy Knight.

As of now, only new car pur­chases af­ter March 1, 2013 will be on ti­tle fee sys­tem, but by 2023 all car own­ers will be taken off the an­nual prop­erty tax sys­tem, ac­cord­ing to the bud­get pol­icy in­sti­tute.

Lo­cal cham­ber of­fi­cials and State Sen. Rick Jef­fares, R-lo­cust Grove, said one of the most im­por­tant el­e­ments in the bill is a pro­vi­sion that will elim­i­nate taxes that in­dus­tries pay on the en­ergy they use in pro­duc­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Ge­or­gia Bud­get Pol­icy In­sti­tute, which an­a­lyzed the bill, Ge­or­gia is the only state in the south­east and one of only 10 states in the na­tion which still taxed en­ergy used in man­u­fac­tur­ing.

“I think New­ton County is a big win­ner be­cause of the man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties we have. Do­ing away with the en­ergy tax was a big com­po­nent,” said Jef­fares. “I have heard of in­dus­tries not com­ing here be­cause sur­round­ing states don’t have an en­ergy tax. I’ve also heard talk of com­pa­nies say­ing if we don’t do some­thing (about the en­ergy tax) they’re leav­ing.”

Hunter Hall, pres­i­dent of the Cov­ing­ton-new­ton County Cham­ber of Com­merce, agreed that the tax elim­i­na­tion would ben­e­fit New­ton County, which has a large man­u­fac­tur­ing base.

The tax will be phased out dur­ing the next four years, and is ex­pected to re­duce state rev­enue by $137 mil­lion once fully im­ple­mented. Ac­cord­ing to the bud­get pol­icy in­sti­tute, lo­cal gov­ern­ments will still be able to charge a 2 per­cent ex­cise tax on en­ergy, “which should help shield them from a po­ten­tially-siz­able loss of rev­enue.”

An­other change that could have a slight neg­a­tive ef­fect on New­ton County is the fact that film pro­duc­tions will now have to pay sales tax on prod­ucts they buy in Ge­or­gia. Pre­vi­ously, com­pa­nies re­ceived a sales tax ex­emp­tion. How­ever, the much more sig­nif­i­cant 30 per­cent in­come tax credit that pro­duc­tions re­ceived re­mained un­touched. The 30 per­cent in­cen­tive is hailed as a ma­jor rea­son that more pro­duc­tions are film­ing in Ge­or­gia.

“Be­cause it was all up or all down vote, the ques­tion we dealt with was would we rather help ef­forts to re­cruit in­dus­try or would we rather keep 7 per­cent sales tax ex­emp­tion on prod­ucts pur­chased for film pro­duc­tion,” Hall said. “We felt it was more ben­e­fi­cial to side with re­cruit­ing and retaining lo­cal in­dus­try than to have the sales tax ex­emp­tion, be­cause we knew they were go­ing to keep the 30 per­cent in­cen­tive. But we did ask for op­por­tu­nity to take out the loss of the sales tax ex­emp­tion.”

More than 650 peo­ple par­tic­i­pated in Satur­day’s Great Amer­i­can Cleanup, rep­re­sent­ing 31 dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tions and pick­ing up lit­ter along­side dozens of lo­cal roads.

Lau­rie Ri­ley, di­rec­tor of Keep Cov­ing­ton/new­ton Beau­ti­ful, said she didn’t yet know how much lit­ter was picked up, but if each per­son picked up one bag of trash that would equal more than 6.5 tons.

“Please let all who par­tic­i­pated know how much we value their time and con­tri­bu­tions to our com­mu­nity,” Ri­ley said in an email.

Peo­ple from area busi­nesses, churches, civic groups and schools picked up lit­ter along: Dun­can Road Ga. High­way 11 U.S. High­way 278, be­tween Hub Junc­tion and Melody Drive Al­mon Road Var­i­ous streets in Por­terdale

Salem Road, be­tween Old Salem Road and Brown Bridge

U.S. High­way 278, at the Park and Ride lot at exit 90 and the exit 90 ramp Hazel­brand Road Fairview Road Ga. High­way 81 South Elling­ton Road Davis Ford Road Ga. High­way 213 in Mans­field

Var­i­ous streets in the En­clave at Gross Lake sub­di­vi­sion

City Pond Road, be­tween City Pond Park and Al­covy Road

Var­i­ous streets in Ox­ford Jack­son Lake area Area un­der the tres­tle on Al­covy Road Cook Road Bald Rock Road Brown Bridge Road, be­tween Turner Lake Road and the Leaf­s­tone Apart­ments

“We grade road­side lit­ter dur­ing the lit­ter in­dex, which we do each year in late July and early Au­gust,” Ri­ley said in an email. “Our last lit­ter in­dex was scored at 1.41, with 1 be­ing ‘no lit­ter’ and 4 be­ing ‘ex­tremely lit­tered’; how­ever, we know that lit­ter on our road­ways has in­creased since the lit­ter in­dex. High­ways and cut-through roads and roads with re­cy­cling cen­ters nearby are the most lit­tered.”

Groups and in­di­vid­u­als are en­cour­aged to pick up lit­ter any­time through­out the year. For more in­for­ma­tion or to learn about how to get sup­plies, con­tact Keep Cov­ing­ton/new­ton Beau­ti­ful at 770-7842015, email new­ton­clean@ co.new­ton.ga.us, visit its web­site kcnb.biz or visit the of­fice at 1113 Usher St.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.