Lee Left the Gate Open – Tax Revenues Hoofed It

Back in 2011, during Lee Anderson’s last year in the Georgia House before his doomed attempt at the US House, your arrowflinging writer called and wrote him about the activities of the Tax Reform Council. Lee acted ignorant of the issues and directed me to his guy on the Council, plant nurseryman Skeeter McCorkle. He got back “Lee I know what McCorkle will do – he will get a whole new slew of agriculture exemptions!”

Anderson wasn’t in the Georgia House in 2012 when House Bill 386 passed containing all those costly new exemptions that real people are now having to make up.

Included in the bill was a provision giving nearly every farmer in Georgia, even home gardeners, what is now known at the GATE (Georgia Agricultural Tax Exemption) card. It looks like this.

Georgia GATE Card

Now when we used to visit Lee Anderson’s farm, each and every gate we passed through had to be closed and secured with a chain. So it used to be with Georgia Tax Exemptions.

What transpired was a comical statewide tax looting publicized heavily in the Atlanta Media, municipal publications, and even county papers like the Lincoln Journal. Some farming fellows tried to use their GATE card on the casket and vault for their fathers funeral. Others bought $100,000’s of lumber for home building. The carnage continues today at nearly every rural store in Georgia.

The tax losses exceeded 15% in many counties, causing property tax increases just like the 22% property tax Augustans got out of the same tax reform fiasco.

A Georgia Municipal Association map and chart depicted the damage statewide.GMA-map-for-blog

 

Another term, this time with Lee in the Senate, will be a real riot if the escaped money cows don’t come home.

Cow patties won’t fund education!

 

Double-crossed at the Doubletree, Augustans Got a 22% Property Tax Increase

When your humble flinger of arrows climbed into his pickup truck one afternoon in the late summer of 2010 it was not dreamed that the trip was worth $4 million to $5 million to the people of Augusta Richmond County, Georgia, yet it was.

The Georgia General Assembly had empaneled a Tax Reform Council, chaired by former Atlanta Olympic Games chairman A.D. Frazier, and charged it with recommending a tax reform plan. Earlier, in 2008, the legislature had wisely rejected disgraced House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s G.R.E.A.T. (Georgia Repeal Every Ad valorem Tax) plan but still held the notion of “tax reform” dear, spurred on by the Georgia Traditional Manufacturers Association and others. Manufacturers wanted relief from Georgia’s sales-tax-exemption-limiting “Direct Use” requirements. Agricultural interests wanted sales tax relief, too.

The Tax Reform Council met in cities across Georgia. The meeting in Augusta came within 3 weeks of a furious Republican Party runoff for governor, which diverted attention from what was at risk. The Council convened at the Doubletree Hotel on August 30, 2010. A number of presenters had prepared remarks which were posted on the Tax Council website. This writer had not come to speak but rose and gave an impromptu talk in opposition based upon the enormous revenue loss that appeared to be in the making, including a critique of surviving elements of G.R.E.A.T. A sitting member of the Georgia House of Representatives, Don Parsons, was not paying attention enough to catch the name and dismissed the talk as uninformed.

The frightening thing was that the Tax Council withheld its report, despite promises it would be published in November, until the start of the 2011 session and the stated intent was for the plan to rocket through the General Assembly for a straight “up or down” vote.

The Augusta presentations included one that tipped off how draconian the sales and use tax losses would be for Augusta. An email to a key member of the Augusta Commission warned of the losses. Another to an organization promoting the bad tax deal laid out the reasons that killing it in 2011 were good.

Taxreformwarning_Page_1Tax Reform 2011 Killed_Page_1Lobbyists didn’t care.

The Augusta Chronicle reported “Twice panel members asked how to replace the revenue from new tax breaks such as elimination of the inventory tax. John Krueger, senior vice president of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, replied that he hadn’t polled his members about that.

“To be honest, I really don’t have an answer to that,” he said.”

The next year tax reform returned and passed. Not one of the location legislative delegation voted against it, not even “conservatives” Representative Barbara Sims or Senator Bill Jackson. Just as night follows day, the tax losses hit Augusta Richmond County so hard that in 2014, the Augusta Commission had to pass a 22% property tax increase to compensate for them.

The Augusta Commission got the blame but the damage was clearly inflicted by the General Assembly, with the local delegation going right along with it.

The sales taxes given up were were being passed on to purchasers of the manufactured goods outside of Augusta, Richmond County and now are being replaced by your property taxes, if you live in Augusta-Richmond County. The manufacturers were not likely to leave Augusta over taxes they had been paying for years and “tax reform” means that new businesses won’t be paying new taxes, either. Theories and subsidized jobs excited the politicians but this was a DEAD LOSS to the people, if one looks at the only thing that counts with revenue – CASH FLOW!

The entire progression of events might not have turned to the public’s favor, but it was a wonderful chance to demonstrate how The AURELIUS PRINCIPLE works to identify millions of dollars of savings to clients who might just be interested in saving those millions rather than paying them out. Cost Recovery Works, Inc. has used these techniques to stunning effect for clients many times and the tax reform participation showed how they work to potentially effect tens of millions in savings.

Millions of dollars in savings come from projects like this one – Just not for the poor, tax-besieged citizens of Augusta.

Thank your politicians.

GOP Cookie Jar Lid Slams on Rep. Jodi Lott

LottJodi4879

 

The November 2014 race to fill Georgia House District 122 seat, vacated by retiring Representative Ben Harbin of Evans was the ugliest, most hotly contested election in the modern history of Columbia County. It saw 2 months of nonstop attacks by radio station talk show host Austin Rhodes on hapless candidate Joe Mullins conjoined with the collapse of the campaign of departing Columbia County District 3 commissioner Mack Taylor. Taylor’s efforts became mired in a nasty war with Mullins, complete with subterfuge, private investigators, and backdoor conniving with the radio talker.  Columbia County, sick of the carnage, chose political newcomer Jodi Lott in the December runoff.

Representative-elect Lott was probably giddy with excitement still when she was sworn in this January. Her refreshing enthusiasm, undiminished by the grinding  reality check of public life, was apparent to everyone in the area. Her primary campaign issue, a “fairtax” (a sales tax) to replace the state income tax, seemed unstoppable in the Georgia House of Representatives, as leadership and the membership voiced support.

Like the rest of us, Jodi Lott found the meaning of “lip service,” that when grizzled politicians like House leaders move their lips, you can count on it being in service to a lie. In this case her treasured tax relief met uncompromising doom at the hands of  Governor Nathan Deal, who cited the danger that moving from an income tax to a sales tax would pose to Georgia’s burgeoning film industry, which heavily benefits from income tax credits. The House leadership beat a retreat, citing the futility of going against the governor’s wishes.

That is the “official story.” Here is a much more accurate explanation. The reason that the citizenry of Georgia will never see their income taxes cut, or replaced by a sales tax, is that other income tax credits have been a back-door, almost totally-unaccounted for, stream of public funds to connected political donors from the Republican hierarchy in the legislative and executive branches.  They give away income taxes that have to be made up by increased income taxes on us. No income tax means that the payola scheme dies.

Our City Stink/Agraynation.com  collaborative effort uncovered the scandal in 2012, during investigation into the details of the Magnolia Trace subsidized housing development uproar.  After the public fury, this writer had traveled to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) offices and spent an afternoon pouring over records of the Magnolia Trace income tax credit applications in the company of DCA attorney Phyllis Carr.  The review did not uncover any smoking guns assignable to Columbia County Officials, but found a huge one wafting smoke toward the Georgia Republican Party and its senior officeholders in government.

You see, the availability of income tax credits, especially the low income housing tax credit, had been around for years. Most of these credits expired unused. That was until Missouri based Affordable Equity Partners got measures through the Georgia legislature allowing the credits to be exchanged, marketed and sold to taxpayers who could use the tax credits.  Affordable Equity and its sister Capital Health Management, Inc. funded a bevy of GOP-beneficent PACs and made direct contributions to nearly all of the important party office holders. To date, Governor Deal has received $10,000, House Speaker David Ralston has received $9,500, Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle has received more than $17,000 from this stable of companies and related PACs. The  GOP, its incumbents in the legislature and other supporting PACs have received another $240,000.

Magnolia Trace affair was also a scandal in its approval process and the political donation largesse was a deciding factor for approval in this writer’s opinion. How widespread are these failures and malpractices by DCA and how much is it costing the people of Georgia?

Representative Lott and tax reformers take note! To get tax reform for the people the path is directly through your leaders’ hefty campaign finances.

Let’s see if the candidates now running for Senate 24 and House 123 seats on passing a “fairtax” have that much tenacity.

 

Enron Accounting Revisits DOT

On February 5 of this year the time of the groundbreaking for the Riverwatch Parkway Extension Project, WAGT TV26, WJBF Channel 6, and the Columbia County News-Times all incorrectly reported that the $34 million project was being funded wholly out of TIA-2010 funds, also known as TSPLOST.

The TIA funds for the project came out of the 75% funding level list approved by voters within the Constrained Projects List. There is a project cost estimate found in the details. That paints a truthful picture. Nearly $11 million for the project is reserved out of DOT highway and fuel taxes and there is a $3.3 million cost overrun already, leaving $20 million in TSPLOST funding.

You know there is something screwy when that many news outlets get it wrong and are all using the same number.

Well it didn’t take long to find the source. It was DOT, who came into the TSPLOST debate tarnished and smarting from Governor Sonny Perdue accusing them of “Enron Accounting,” but seems back to their bad habits by putting out a webpage showing TIA spending that looks to be TIA, alright – Totally In-Accurate. A Lincoln County project is only $1 million of TIA funding, but DOT listed it as $4 million. Wrightsboro Road in Augusta is shown as $19 million TIA funding, but it is only $2 million.

If DOT wants to reestablish its credibility after its flirtation with Enron Accounting they sure have a funny way of showing it.

How they are going to fund the huge cost increases with revenues collected so woefully low would make an Enron Accountant strain.

Short Sheeted via Term Sheet


Public Thrown for Loss in (nearly)Free Falcons Stadium?
By Al Gray
The author, Al M. Gray is President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s leading companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns.
Georgia Dome to be Torn Down for new Falcons Stadium
About two months ago, a “term sheet” was signed by the Georgia World Congress Center and the Atlanta Falcons to build a new retractable-roofed stadium for their pro football team. After the travails that followed the notorious Augusta Tee Center Term Sheet, the mere mention of that phrase was enough to raise eyebrows.
The thought came to mind “What if……?” What if it was a one-sided deal against the public? What if the consultants’ reports were not analyzed? What if the cost to the taxpayer was a whole lot greater than advertised? What if the legalese meant huge opportunities for cost-shifts to the public? What if media was silent because of the team owner’s position on the board of the Atlanta newspaper’s parent company?
The deal was too huge and the possibilities too big to ignore, so this author performed a month long investigation on the reported stadium costs versus what the documents showed. The report that came from this effort is the inaugural article in agraynation.com, the multimedia blog born out of the Augusta Project, that work being a year-long series of investigations and articles that appeared in City Stink and the Augusta reform Facebook pages.
The Falcons say they are paying $700 million of the $1.2 billion cost.
Are they really? Or is this another prank of being short sheeted via term sheet? Will the weary public think it is turning in to a warm comfy bed, only to find all openings denied?
Most of the cost is all ours.
There is a big rush to get this deal approved ASAP.
Stay tuned.

AG

Guest Column: Lee Anderson Hardly a Leader

Originally posted on CityStink
Friday, August 24, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Jeffery Sexton
Al M. Gray, President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc. contributed multidisciplinary review techniques in support of this article.
My attention was drawn to this comment from Lawton Sack, Chairman of GA-GOP’s 12th District:
Rep. Lee Anderson was elected as our Republican nominee for GA-12 on Tuesday night. There already seems to be an air of defeat permeating this race against Barrow. Some people are publicly and privately saying that Lee cannot beat Barrow. I have had some tell me that they will be voting for Barrow instead of Lee. I believe strongly and sincerely that Lee can win this election, and I cannot and will not give up without a fight. I have lived under Barrow for almost 8 years, and I am tired of his duplicity and his non-leadership. Barrow is not the right answer for GA-12. I kindly ask that each of you, our Republican leaders and activists in GA-12, to please not add any fuel to the pessimism. If you choose not to support our nominee, that is your right and prerogative. I simply ask that you please not make the battle more difficult for those that choose to fight on.–Lawton Sack, GA-12 GAGOP Chair
Now, as y’all probably know, I’ve spent a good amount of time over the past four years – since Anderson was first elected to the Georgia General Assembly in 2008 – watching the Georgia General Assembly quite closely. And honestly, Anderson’s name was never a factor in my conversations with fairly high ranking sources in the Assembly, no matter the issue. But I decided to use the power of LEGIS to do some research into Rep Anderson’s “leadership”, and here’s what I found:
Per his biography page, as of the 2011-2012 session of the Assembly, Rep Anderson’s highest ranking position is as the third ranking official (Secretary) of the Intragovernmental Affairs committee. He has no other leadership positions in the Assembly – meaning Speaker Ralston and the other genuine leaders in the Ga House of Representatives don’t consider the man a leader at all, else he would be given more prominent positions, particularly given the turnover of the last couple of years.
But let’s also look at his legislative record, shall we?
Rep Anderson has had his name attached to 40 bills in the 2009-2010 session, his Freshman term. Of those bills:
  • 15 were statewide House legislation
  • 2 were local legislation dealing with the City of Harlem and Columbia County
  • 2 were Senate bills that he was the House sponsor of (SB 6 and SB 456)
  • 16 were various commendation resolutions
  • 2 were resolutions supporting development of Ga’s energy resourcese
  • 1 was a resolution honorting China Day at the Capitol
  • 1 was a resolution recognizing Burn Week
  • 1 was a resolution creating the House Study Committee on Property Law Modernization and Standardization
Of those 40 pieces of legislation, Rep Anderson himself introduced just 1/4 of them – 7 bills (HB 196HB 440HB 453HB 630HB 723HB 975, and HB 1253) and 3 commending resolutions (HR 1656HR 1766HR 1940).
Of the 7 bills Rep Anderson introduced himself, 4 (HB 440, HB 453, HB 630, HB 723) became law – though half of those were the 2 pieces of local legislation he had introduced. Of the rest of the House bills that Rep Anderson co-sponsored, only 4 became law: HB 93HB 156HB 529HB 1206. Of these four, Anderson was the primary co-sponsor on half of them.
For comparison purposes on the numbers above, there were nearly 6100 pieces of legislation introduced in that session, with 1527 of them being House Bills, 552 Senate Bills, 2340 House Resolutions, and the remainder of them Senate Resolutions.
In Rep Anderson’s sophomore term, the 2011-2012 session, here is the breakdown of his 55 total bills:
  • 38 were commendation resolutions
  • 7 were statewide House legislation
  • 5 were local redistricting bills
  • 1 was a local bill to provide term limits for the Columbia County Board of Commissioners
  • 1 was a resolution supporting the modernization of the Federal Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (HR 381)
  • 1 was a resolution urging the US Dept of Labor to repeal certain proposed policies (HR 1561)
  • 1 was a resolution urging the US Dept of Community Affairs to adopt amendments to the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (HR 1948)
  • 1 was a dedication resolution
Of these 55 pieces of legislation, Rep Anderson introduced just 2 of the bills (HB 1179 and HB 1180, both redistricting bills regarding Lincoln County) himself, though he introduced 34 of the commendation resolutions himself.
All of Rep Anderson’s redistricting bills became law, as did his bill term limiting Columbia County Commissioners and 5 (HB 198HB 274HB 280HB 485HB 928) of his 7 Statewide bills.
For comparison with the above numbers, there were 5423 total pieces of legislation introduced in the 2011-2012 session, with 1311 of them being House Bills, 2201 of them being House Resolutions, 540 were Senate Bills, and the remainder were Senate Resolutions.
Thus, as Rep Anderson’s record clearly shows, he is hardly a leader – he has not held any position of any real importance on any major committee, and while he has had a few bills passed, 2/3 (4 of 6) of the bills he had passed that he had introduced himself were local legislation of no statewide importance.
I’ll leave it to the reader to interpret the benefit/detriment of the bills that did get passed with his name on them for themselves.
For anyone who would like to look at exactly what I have looked at on their own, please feel free to go to LEGIS. To find Rep Anderson’s information, simply use the Session drop down box to search for either the 2009-2010 Regular Session or the 2011-2012 Regular Session, then for the Member drop down select “Anderson, Lee”. All of what I have now shown will come up for you to look at the legislation at your leisure.***
Jeffery Sexton

The Three Wise Counties (Video)

Saturday, August 11, 2012
Augusta, GA
From CityStink.net Reports

Three counties in the CSRA region wisely said NO to T-SPLOST on July 31st: Columbia County, Glascock County and Lincoln County. However, since they were outvoted by the rest of the region, they will still be subjected to this hideous new tax and new level of government bureacracy. To make matters worse, since the T-SPLOST was rejected by 75% of the state, including populous metro Atlanta, this will likely result in proceeds from the CSRA’s gasoline tax being diverted to Atlanta. At least 3 local counties had the good judgement to see T-splost for what it was: a sham. Watch Al Gray’s video commentary below:

<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/TCAD9X9POKo” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

 

Farmer Lee Anderson Grows Taxes

The Lee Tax Shift
Originally posted on CityStink
Friday, August 3, 2012
Columbia County, GA
By Kurt Huttar

 

Al M. Gray, President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc. contributed multidisciplinary review techniques in support of this article.
Last Tuesday, July 31, 2012, saw the completion of the biggest tax shift in CSRA and Georgia history with the passage of the 1% sales tax for transportation called T-Splost. Less than two months after Columbia County Representatives Lee Anderson and Ben Harbin voted for $tens of millions in new sales tax exemptions for Delta Airlines,  Delta, Georgia’s  domineering airline, contributed $225,000 used to convince easily-swayed voters to vote themselves a 33%sales tax increase on food.
Perhaps Delta, once notorious for sending passengers on the last leg back to Augusta on buses, wants safer roads on which to transport shafted customers upon whom it foisted an $8 billion tax increase.
Anderson, now a candidate for the 12thCongressional District seat now held by Democrat John Barrow, voted to cut Delta’s sales taxes but voted for these sales tax increases on us in the middle class. Here we find Lee dining with George Bowen, the lobbyist who greased through the fuel tax exemption for Delta and Georgia Power.
Worse is the behavior of Georgia Power Company, who gave $395,000 to deluge us with pro T-Splost propaganda after the same legislation saved them $hundreds of millions. It is noted that said cost savings supposedly are given back to consumers via fuel adjustments to their rates, but how many citizens trust those calculations? This also came after Lee Anderson voted in 2009 for Georgia Power’s advance billing of $1 billion in profits, hidden as “construction costs.” We got double digit rate increases from that, too.
Yes, we voters are now going to have to pay Lee’s 14% T-Splost sales tax increase on those double-digit, advance-profit charges on our power bills.
Here, the Georgia Gang, including former Augusta Chronicle opinion editor, Phil Kent, questioned the rush by Lee Anderson and others to pass the bill.
Lee could not be dissuaded by pleas of “Read the BILL, Lee!”
Anderson, a hay farmer, also voted for a $500 million a year hospital bed tax. How did he make a “No Tax Increase” Pledge with Grover Norguist’s Amercans for Tax Reform and vote for these tax increases? Can we believe his promises?
It was most frustrating for us in Columbia County to only be able to put up a few score “VOTE NO” signs, then go home to find pro-T-Splost mailers in the mailbox.
I had to  drive by scads of “Vote Yes” signs illegally placed in medians and rights of way, like this one:
I had to listen to broadcast appeals funded by these corporations who just got sales tax cuts.
Finally, I got a batch of signs from Augusta County Commissioner Joe Bowles, who courageously fought adoption of this terrible tax.
On August 21, we have chance to just say ‘No!” once again. This time it is a vote against legislators stupidly subordinating our Columbia County votes to those of ignorant and corrupt Augustans. This time it is a vote mindful that this dastardly T-Splost tax begins to be collected January 1.

Just say no to Lee Anderson for Congress.

Lobbyists love him. The middle class groans under the burdens their orgies of money and excess we are left with.
Isn’t it time the people won one?***
KH

Related Stories:

Al Gray: Vote NO to T-SPLOST (Video)

Originally posted on CityStink
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Augusta, GA
From CityStink.net Reports
In his latest video, Al Gray, of ArrowFlinger Reports and a CityStink.net contributor, explains why it is so important for Georgia voters to defeat T-SPLOST on the July 31st General Primary ballot.
The author, Al M. Gray is President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s leading companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns.

 

 

Al Gray: Serenading The Gold Dome Denizens

Originally posted on Citystink
Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray

It’s hard to be humble when you are a Georgia legislator. The Arrowflinger Al tackles the hot topic of Ethics in the Georgia Legislature – There aren’t any.  So he decided to put his frustrations over Georgia Gold-Domers to song. See his video serenade below. You can see more Arrow Flinger videos at: www.agraynation.com