Columbia County Commissioners voted for a new tax... but it isn't one for everybody.
The 2% energy excise tax on manufacturers is replacing an energy sales tax that the state eliminated last year. The tax won't directly affect resident and businesses, because it's only for manufacturers.
Georgia lawmakers pushed for this tax reform in an effort to attract more business to the state, bBut Columbia County leaders say they feel like the state gave away something that was rightfully theirs.
Columbia County Commissioners unanimously approved the new energy tax, which will boost revenue that the county lost when a new state law took effect last year.
"For Columbia County it was going to be about $250,000 lost, so once again we've leveled the playing field now we won't realize that loss," says Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson.
Before the tax reform, manufacturers paid sales tax on energy consumption. 2% percent went to the county and 4% percent went to the state.
"The state law gave the county an option to recoup their two percent should they choose to do that, based on an excise tax. So basically what this is, this is recouping a tax that the county was already getting and the manufacturer is still going to benefit because they are going to benefit from the four percent that the state has given up," says Johnson.
Companies will be taxed on the energy they use which includes gas, electricity, water and several other materials factories use to operate. Businesses like Georgia Iron Works and John Deere were opposed to this energy tax, but Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson says they came around.
"And certainly they need any kind of benefit that they can. We support the industry in Columbia County, this is not a vote to say that we are not behind them," says Johnson.
Johnson says the county is also trying to support its citizens.
"Really the credit that we would have been giving away may have had to been recouped in property taxes and we didn't feel like it was fair for the citizens of Columbia County to pay an additional property tax so a manufacturer could take a tax credit," says Johnson.
Columbia County officials say that the energy tax will take effect as soon as the county attorney drafts an ordinance.
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