Commissioner approves energy excise tax
by Jason Lowrey
Oct 11, 2012 | 2000 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bartow County, and any participating municipalities, will enact an excise tax on all energy used for manufacturing and mining on Jan. 1, 2013. The tax, as approved by Bartow County Commissioner Clarence Brown during a called meeting Wednesday, acts as a sales tax on energy used specifically for the manufacturing process.

However, the tax is not a new or additional tax on local manufacturers. During its most recent session, the Georgia Legislature passed a bill designed to slowly roll the statewide energy excise tax back to zero over a four-year period. Before that bill, the total tax on energy stood at six cents. Four cents went to the state and the remaining two cents went toward counties and their municipalities. Those two cents were then split between Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and Local Option Sales Tax.

By passing the bill and rolling the tax back to zero, the state is giving up its four cents and allowing local governments the option to keep their two-cent share.

Brown and County Administrator Steve Bradley said the county needed the funds, and emphasized it was not a new tax.

“There will be a four cent, or four percent, discount anyway,” said Bradley. “Not discount — savings in revenue — by all these businesses that would be subject to this energy excise tax because the state is not re-imposing anything. They knew that the local governments could lose significant revenue.

“We don’t know exactly how much that revenue is, but we believe it would be in the hundred thousands.”

Bradley added the excise tax dollars would be vital to the county, as declining sales tax revenues and property values continue to batter the county’s budget.

Brown cited a similar financial concern when he said it “was not difficult” to decide whether to approve the tax.

“It’s getting down to, now, what are you going to cut? Are you going to cut services or lay people off? If you do, if you lay people off, it’s going to cut services,” he said. “So [we] just can’t take any more hits like this. ... I’m leaving office, and I would be irresponsible if I didn’t do this.”

Municipalities within the county must now approve memorandums of understanding with the county government in order to receive the tax dollars.

“Any who choose to participate will participate in it and if any choose not to participate, then their share goes to the rest of the participants,” said attorney Peter Olson. “So I’m sure all the municipalities will choose to participate.”

Brown said he held a number of meetings with local mayors and city managers before making a decision, but he did not hear any feedback from local industry. Bradley said he received a call from one local business asking to have the tax completely removed.

Brown also approved a resolution accepting 292 acres of land into the county’s Greenspace project. The land is near Lake Allatoona, but does not extend to the lake itself. The land was acquired at no cost to the county.

Other commissioner business included:

• Approving the demolition of five old water tanks at the cost of $55,000.

• Approving a malt beverage license for Ashfaque Khan for the Step & Fetch It.

The commissioner’s next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.