The state is phasing out the tax during the coming four years but left local governments the option of reinstating their share. The local option sales tax and special purpose local option sales tax are affected, but not the sales tax levied for education.
Interim County Manager Gary Burkhalter said the 2-percent energy tax added an estimated $320,000 to county coffers each year. This year’s loss of a quarter — $80,000 — already is figured into the 2013 budget slated for adoption at the end of the month.
Commissioners did not rule out a future levy and plan to continue discussions with the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce. The vote was taken to end uncertainty for local manufacturers and economic development officials this year.
“The chamber will be able to use this as a recruiting tool for new business and industry,” Commission Chairman Irwin Bagwell said.
Bartow and Gordon are among the Georgia counties that are implementing the tax, with officials there contending it’s just a continuation of an existing levy they can’t afford to eliminate.
With the county tax off the table for now, the city of Rome could choose to levy the tax on operations within its borders. Mayor Evie McNiece said it’s not likely.
“Right now we have no plans to reinstate that local portion of the tax,” she said. “At this point I don’t think we’ll take any action.”
The County Commission’s vote came at its first meeting of the year, where the board unanimously put Bagwell back in the chair. Commissioner Larry Maxey will serve as vice chairman.
The board also confirmed Burkhalter as interim county manager, effective Jan. 1, at a base salary equal to $107,288.32 a year.
A search is on for a permanent manager, and the contract is drafted to be easily terminated. Burkhalter’s finance director job is being kept open for his possible return.
Commissioner Garry Fricks, part of a committee handling the manager search, said he’ll be checking on the status of the job posting this week to determine how long to accept applications.
“The intention is to do this pretty fast,” he said. “I’d like to move forward.”
In other actions, the board:
Approved Chief Appraiser Bill McWhorter’s plans to reactivate a deputy chief appraiser slot and combine several positions. The reorganization is expected to save $17,000, but McWhorter said the main reason for the change is to prepare for a transition when he retires at the end of the year.
Held a public hearing on the proposed 2013 budget but received no comments. Another work session to finalize the document is scheduled for 8 a.m. Jan. 16 at the County Administration Building, 12 E. Fourth Ave. No property tax hike is planned.
Signed off on a two-year contract to provide an inmate work crew to Polk County at $61,547 a year. Burkhalter said Polk is responsible for providing the transportation, equipment, supplies and insurance.
Approved commercial zoning for three acres along Alabama Highway near the state line. Owner Vester Hill said there is interest in building a convenience store on the property.