Item # 1
COLUMBUS CONSOLIDATED GOVERNMENT
2016 PROPOSED LEGISLATIVE AGENDA


1. OTHER LOCAL OPTION SALES TAX (OLOST) - HOTEL/MOTEL EXEMPTION:

The Columbus Consolidated Government is requesting that the Local Legislative Delegation to the General Assembly introduce legislation to amend O.C.G.A. 48-8-96 (h) (1) so that it only applies to LOST referenda held after January 1, 2011, thereby leaving the original two exemptions contained in the 2004 legislation in place in Columbus, Georgia. (Requested by Councilor Henderson)

Explanation:
Legislation would reinstate the original exemptions related to hotel lodging and vehicle sales for any LOST referenda held after January 1, 2011.

2. SALES TAX ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY USER SAFEGUARD (POINT OF SALES DATA):

The Columbus Consolidated Government is requesting the state take necessary steps to ensure the full collection and timely remittance of all sales and use taxes due to the state and to local governments, whether such steps include additional funding for the Department of Revenue for audits and compliance purposes, privatizing sales tax collections or allowing local governments to collect and audit local sales taxes locally. (Carry over 2010/11/12/13/14/15) (Requested by mayor, city manager and, Finance Director)

Explanation/Example:


3. 911 SURCHARGE – INCREASE:

Introduce/support legislation to increase 911 fees from $1.50 to $2.50 for telephone landlines and wireless phones from $1 to $2.50. (Carry over from previous years) (Requested by Pam Hodge, Deputy City Manager)

Explanation:
The revenue generated by the landline, wireless and prepaid phones does not currently support the operation of the E911 function. The E911 function for the past four fiscal years has been subsidized from the General Fund and the Other Local Option Sales Tax Fund for a total of $2.4 million. The E911 fees from the landline phones have continued to decline almost 10% over the last three years.


4. THAW THE FREEZE:

Request that local delegation to the Georgia General Assembly introduce local legislation to sunset the Columbus Georgia Homestead Assessment Freeze found at Ga. L. 1981, p. 1926 and substitute a new homestead exemption tax system effective for all homestead purchases after January 1, 2017. (Requested by Mayor)

Explanation:

This proposal would sunset the Columbus Georgia Homestead Assessment Freeze found at Ga. L.1981, p.1926 for all homestead property transferred after January 1, 2017. Homeowners who are currently under the freeze or who purchase homesteads on or before January 1, 2017 shall continue under the current homestead assessment freeze. Persons purchasing homes after January 1, 2017 shall receive a $20,000 homestead exemption beginning in the 2018 tax year. If local legislation as proposed is adopted, then the same shall appear for ratification at referendum in November, 2016.

5. REPEAL OF HOTEL DESTINATION FEE IMPOSED BY HB 106 2015 SESSION:

This item requests repeal Section 3 of HB 106, to be codified as O.C.G.A.48-13-50.3, which imposes a $5 per night fee on hotel lodging, as part of the transportation funding plan enacted by HB 170. (Requested by Councilor Pugh)

Explanation:

This fee will unfairly burden Georgia businesses and visiting families who are already supporting transportation funding through other taxes. This surcharge constitutes another tax upon consumers within the Columbus market and hampers the ability of Columbus hotels to maintain room rates. In addition, in Columbus and other cities near a border, it will give hoteliers in adjacent states a competitive advantage. The fee was added as part of an amendment to HB 170 which was made late in the session and was not extensively debated.

6. PERSONAL TRANSPORTATION VEHICLES (PTV’S):

This item requests an amendment to the provisions of O.C.G.A.40-6-365(c)(3) which governs the ability of local governments registration of PTV’s which are allowed to be used on public streets in specifically designated areas. The amendment would allow inspection and registration of such vehicles annually instead of once every five years. (Requested by Councilor Davis)

Explanation:

This Council has recently enacted an ordinance allowing the use of PTV’s on certain designated streets in the Uptown area. Due to state law restrictions, registration was only able to be required every 5 years. Annual registrations are requested to better protect the safety of citizens in areas where PTV’s are permitted.


7. LEGISLATIVE VETTING PERIOD:

Request that the local delegation support proposed statewide legislation to call for a forty-eight hour vetting period to any substantive amendment to legislation pending on the floor before either house of the legislature before final adoption of the legislation. (Request of Councilor Davis)

Explanation:

In the past, substantive amendments have been made to legislation immediately prior to its approval to incorporate provisions which had a significant impact on the interests of this community which were not able to be openly debated and considered. For example, two of the requests on this agenda request reversal of last minute additions to major pieces of legislation.


8. COURT COSTS--RECORDER'S COURT: ADD - ON

The Columbus Consolidated Government is requesting legislation that will repeal the sunset provision and allow Columbus, Georgia to add a fee to state mandated fines as approved for other cities in Georgia. (Requested by Councilor Henderson/Judge Cielinski)

Explanation:

Recorder's Court provides citizens of Muscogee County with fair and impartial justice, promote public safety, enhance public trust and confidence, and safeguard the constitutional rights of all who appears in this court. Recorder's Court is requesting removal of the sunset provision. This fee should apply to all tickets. The state law as written does not allow the city of Columbus to impose a fee on state mandated fines. CCG is requesting a $25 fee be imposed due to startup costs instead of the $15 fee. The charge will be added as a surcharge to each fine imposed by the Recorder's Court, effective July 1, 2016 to be used to defray administrative costs of Recorder's Court.


9. HOME AND COMMUNITY BASED SERVICES: ADD - ON

The Columbus Consolidated Government is requesting legislation to continue advocating for and support additional funding in the 2016 Session to be allocated for Home and Community Based Services for Georgia Senior population. (Requested by Councilor Barnes)

Explanation:

Funding received from the Older Americans Act along with State funding are not keeping pace with the increasing needs of the senior population. There is a need of continual funding for Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, The Elderly Legal Assistance Program, and the many Senior Wellness Programs under the Home and Community Based Services.


1.

A RESOLUTION
NO. ____


A RESOLUTION REQUESTING THAT THE LOCAL LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION INTRODUCE/SUPPORT LEGISLATION TO AMEND O.C.G.A. FOR HOTEL/MOTEL TAX REVENUE TO NOT BE DIVERTED TO NON-TOURISM RELATED PURPOSES.

WHEREAS, through contract with the convention & visitors bureau, the chamber of commerce and/or other non-profit 501c6 a municipality invests in marketing their entire geographic area and all of its assets as a destination for leisure and business travelers; and,

WHEREAS, hotel/motel tax was originally created so that local governments would not have to bear the full burden of the cost of marketing to attract travelers; and,

WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council have discussed issues important to the efficient operation of the Columbus Consolidated Government and the quality of life for its citizens; and,

WHEREAS, this issue requires action in the 2016 General Assembly Session.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE COUNCIL OF COLUMBUS, GEORGIA HEREBY RESOLVES AS FOLLOWS:

That the local Legislative Delegation introduce/support legislation for Hotel/Motel Tax revenue to not be diverted to non-tourism related purposes.
__________________

Introduced at a regular meeting of the council of Columbus, Georgia, held the ________ day of ___________, 2015 and adopted at said meeting by the affirmative vote of ______ members of said Council.


Councilor Allen voting _____________.
Councilor Baker voting _____________.
Councilor Barnes voting _____________.
Councilor Tom Buck voting _____________.
Councilor Davis voting _____________.
Councilor Henderson voting _____________.
Councilor Huff voting _____________.
Councilor Thomas voting _____________.
Councilor Turner Pugh voting _____________.
Councilor Woodson voting _____________.




_______________________________ __________________________
Tiny B. Washington, Clerk of Council Teresa Pike Tomlinson, Mayor


2.
A RESOLUTION

NO. ______


WHEREAS, the Columbus Finance Department and other officials of Columbus, Georgia have requested information concerning sales tax data from the Georgia Department of Revenue on many occasions;

WHEREAS, other consolidated governments and cities and counties of similar size have also requested the same information in the past;

WHEREAS, O.C.G.A. Section 48-2-15(d) allows cities with populations greater than 350,000 to request any pertinent tax information from state tax returns by resolution to the State Revenue Commissioner;

WHEREAS, this Council deems it appropriate to request an amendment to O.C.G.A. Section 48-2-15(d) to allow similar requests by consolidated governments or cities or counties with a population greater than 170,000.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE COUNCIL OF COLUMBUS, GEORGIA HEREBY RESOLVES:

We hereby respectfully request that the local delegation to the Georgia General Assembly introduce general legislation at the 2016 Session of the Georgia General Assembly to amend O.C.G.A. Section 48-2-15(d) so as to permit consolidated governments or cities or counties with a population greater than 170,000 to request any pertinent tax information from state tax returns by resolution to the Georgia Commissioner of Revenue. Let a copy of this resolution be forwarded by the Clerk of Council to each member of the local delegation to the Georgia General Assembly.

________


Introduced at a regular meeting of the council of Columbus, Georgia, held the ________ day of ___________, 2015 and adopted at said meeting by the affirmative vote of ______ members of said Council.


Councilor Allen voting _____________.
Councilor Baker voting _____________.
Councilor Barnes voting _____________.
Councilor Tom Buck voting _____________.
Councilor Davis voting _____________.
Councilor Henderson voting _____________.
Councilor Huff voting _____________.
Councilor Thomas voting _____________.
Councilor Turner Pugh voting _____________.
Councilor Woodson voting _____________.




_______________________________ __________________________
Tiny B. Washington, Clerk of Council Teresa Pike Tomlinson, Mayor


3.

A RESOLUTION
NO. ________


A RESOLUTION REQUESTING THAT THE LOCAL LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION INTRODUCE/SUPPORT LEGISLATION TO AMEND O.C.G.A. 46-5-134 TO INCREASE THE MONTHLY LANDLINE AND WIRELESS ENHANCED 9-1-1 CHARGES UP TO $2.50.

WHEREAS, in accordance with the limits established by O.C.G.A. 46-5-134, this Council has set the existing monthly landline (including VoIP) 9-1-1 charge at $1.50 and the existing wireless enhanced 9-1-1 charge at $1.00 per each connection; and,

WHEREAS, the cost to operate the Emergency System Telephone Fund 9-1-1- Operations exceeds the revenue generated by the current charges; and,

WHEREAS, the Columbus Consolidated Government is subsidizing the operations of the 9-1-1 operations from the General Fund.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE COUNCIL OF COLUMBUS, GEORGIA HEREBY RESOLVES AS FOLLOWS:

That the local Legislative Delegation introduce/support legislation to amend O.C.G.A. 46-5-134 to authorize local governments to increase the monthly landline and wireless enhanced 9-1-1charges to a maximum of $2.50 per each connection.
__________________

Introduced at a regular meeting of the council of Columbus, Georgia, held the ________ day of ___________, 2015 and adopted at said meeting by the affirmative vote of ______ members of said Council.


Councilor Allen voting _____________.
Councilor Baker voting _____________.
Councilor Barnes voting _____________.
Councilor Tom Buck voting _____________.
Councilor Davis voting _____________.
Councilor Henderson voting _____________.
Councilor Huff voting _____________.
Councilor Thomas voting _____________.
Councilor Turner Pugh voting _____________.
Councilor Woodson voting _____________.



_______________________________ __________________________
Tiny B. Washington, Clerk of Council Teresa Pike Tomlinson, Mayor


4.
A RESOLUTION

NO.____


WHEREAS, 1981 Ga. Laws, page 1926, implemented a homestead assessment freeze in Columbus, Georgia which was ratified by voters in November, 1982; and,

WHEREAS, the attached draft local legislation would sunset the Columbus, Georgia homestead assessment freeze and substitute a new homestead exemption tax system effective for all homestead purchases after January 1, 2017; and,

WHEREAS, the draft local legislation would continue the current homestead assessment freeze for purchasers of homesteads on or before January 1, 2017; purchasers of homesteads after January 1, 2017 would be eligible for a $20,000 homestead exemption beginning in the 2018 tax year; and,

WHEREAS, this Council desires that the local delegation to the Georgia General Assembly introduce the attached local legislation at its 2016 Session, with voter ratification set at the general election to be held in November, 2016.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE COUNCIL OF COLUMBUS, GEORGIA HEREBY RESOLVES:

We hereby respectfully request that the local delegation to the Georgia General Assembly introduce the attached local legislation to sunset the Columbus, Georgia homestead assessment freeze and substitute a new homestead exemption tax system effective for all homestead purchases after January 1, 2017. Let a copy of this resolution be forwarded by the Clerk of Council to each member of the local delegation to the Georgia General Assembly.


_____________


Introduced at a regular meeting of the council of Columbus, Georgia, held the ________ day of ___________, 2015 and adopted at said meeting by the affirmative vote of ______ members of said Council.


Councilor Allen voting _____________.
Councilor Baker voting _____________.
Councilor Barnes voting _____________.
Councilor Tom Buck voting _____________.
Councilor Davis voting _____________.
Councilor Henderson voting _____________.
Councilor Huff voting _____________.
Councilor Thomas voting _____________.
Councilor Turner Pugh voting _____________.
Councilor Woodson voting _____________.



_______________________________ __________________________
Tiny B. Washington, Clerk of Council Teresa Pike Tomlinson, Mayor


5.
A RESOLUTION

NO._____


WHEREAS, the Transportation Act, H.B.170, as amended by Section 3 of H.B. 106, both enacted in the 2015 legislative session, enacted a new code section 48-13-50.3 which imposed a $5.00 per day fee on hotel/motel lodging effective July, 2015 to fund transportation expenditures; and,

WHEREAS, this Council is concerned that this additional fee will adversely impact the residents of Georgia, who make up a significant portion of hotel visitors to most Georgia cities, and who make up 79% of overnight hotel guests in Columbus, as these Georgians are otherwise being taxed to support the development of transportation infrastructure within the State; and,

WHEREAS, this Council finds that local businesses of Columbus are particularly adversely impacted by this destination fee, which when added to existing sales and use taxes already charged on Columbus hotel rooms results in an average tax of 23% on the average daily hotel rate, making it difficult for Columbus hotels to maintain reasonable daily rates, particularly in light of competition from hotels across the border in Alabama which are not subject to the same fee structure.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE COUNCIL OF COLUMBUS, GEORGIA HEREBY RESOLVES:

We hereby request that the local delegation to the General Assembly introduce legislation to repeal O.C.G.A. 48-13-50.3 which imposed a $5.00 per night hotel/motel fee effective July 1, 2015.


__________

Introduced at a regular meeting of the council of Columbus, Georgia, held the ________ day of ___________, 2015 and adopted at said meeting by the affirmative vote of ______ members of said Council.


Councilor Allen voting _____________.
Councilor Baker voting _____________.
Councilor Barnes voting _____________.
Councilor Tom Buck voting _____________.
Councilor Davis voting _____________.
Councilor Henderson voting _____________.
Councilor Huff voting _____________.
Councilor Thomas voting _____________.
Councilor Turner Pugh voting _____________.
Councilor Woodson voting _____________.



_______________________________ __________________________
Tiny B. Washington, Clerk of Council Teresa Pike Tomlinson, Mayor


6.
A RESOLUTION

NO.______


WHEREAS, O.C.G.A.40-6-365(c)(5)provides that local governments may regulate the use of PTV’s on its streets by requiring registration and proof of insurance once every five years for a fee not to exceed $15.00; and,

WHEREAS, this Council recently passed Ordinance No. 15-8 implementing a PTV plan permitting the use and registration of PTV’s on certain designated streets in the Uptown Columbus area, but based on the requirements of O.C.G.A. 40-6-365(c)(5),registration and insurance verification was limited to once every five years for a fee of $15.00; and,

WHEREAS, this Council finds that in the interest of protecting the safety and welfare of pedestrians and motorists in the areas where PTV are permitted, it would be advantageous to require yearly registration and verification of adequate insurance.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE COUNCIL OF COLUMBUS, GEORGIA HEREBY RESOLVES:

We hereby request that the local delegation to the General Assembly introduce legislation to amend O.C.G.A. 40-6-365(c)(3)to allow for the annual registration and inspection of PTV’s permitted for use on public streets for a fee not to exceed $15.00.


_________________

Introduced at a regular meeting of the council of Columbus, Georgia, held the ________ day of ___________, 2015 and adopted at said meeting by the affirmative vote of ______ members of said Council.


Councilor Allen voting _____________.
Councilor Baker voting _____________.
Councilor Barnes voting _____________.
Councilor Tom Buck voting _____________.
Councilor Davis voting _____________.
Councilor Henderson voting _____________.
Councilor Huff voting _____________.
Councilor Thomas voting _____________.
Councilor Turner Pugh voting _____________.
Councilor Woodson voting _____________.



_______________________________ __________________________
Tiny B. Washington, Clerk of Council Teresa Pike Tomlinson, Mayor


7.
A RESOLUTION

NO.____


WHEREAS, it has been noted by members of this Council that substantive changes are often made to legislation by amendment almost immediately before passage of such legislation which precludes any meaningful discussion, debate or public input with respect to such changes; and,

WHEREAS, members of this Council have heard that there is discussion of and support for legislation which would impose a specific waiting or vetting period which would restrict substantive amendments to pending legislation that were made immediately prior to passage of such legislation.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE COUNCIL OF COLUMBUS, GEORGIA HEREBY RESOLVES:

We hereby request that the local delegation to the General Assembly support any legislation introduced in either house which would impose a waiting or vetting period of up to 48 hours before legislation with significant amendments could be finally adopted.


__________

Introduced at a regular meeting of the council of Columbus, Georgia, held the ________ day of ___________, 2015 and adopted at said meeting by the affirmative vote of ______ members of said Council.


Councilor Allen voting _____________.
Councilor Baker voting _____________.
Councilor Barnes voting _____________.
Councilor Tom Buck voting _____________.
Councilor Davis voting _____________.
Councilor Henderson voting _____________.
Councilor Huff voting _____________.
Councilor Thomas voting _____________.
Councilor Turner Pugh voting _____________.
Councilor Woodson voting _____________.



_______________________________ __________________________
Tiny B. Washington, Clerk of Council Teresa Pike Tomlinson, Mayor


8.
Add-On
A RESOLUTION
No.________


WHEREAS, in 2013, the General Assembly adopted House Bill No. 556 (Act No. 297) creating a Recorder’s Court Technology Fee, to be set by the Court, not to exceed $15.00 as a surcharge to each fine imposed; and,

WHEREAS, said Act and Technology Fee will be automatically repealed on July 1, 2016; and,

WHEREAS, this Council desires that the local legislative delegation introduce local legislation at the 2016 Session of the Georgia General Assembly to permit imposition of court costs of $25.00 to be added as a surcharge to each fine imposed by the Recorder’s Court, effective July 1, 2016, to be used to defray administrative costs of the Recorder’s Court.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE COUNCIL OF COLUMBUS, GEORGIA HEREBY RESOLVES:

We hereby respectfully request that the local delegation to the Georgia General Assembly introduce local legislation at the 2016 Session to permit imposition of court costs of $25.00 to be added as a surcharge to each fine imposed by the Recorder’s Court, effective July 1, 2016, to be used to defray administrative costs of the Recorder’s Court. Let a copy of this resolution be forwarded by the Clerk of Council to each member of the local delegation to the Georgia General Assembly.
______________

Introduced at a regular meeting of the Council of Columbus, Georgia held on the _______ day of ___________ 2015, and adopted at said meeting by the affirmative vote of ______ members of Council.


Councilor Allen voting __________.
Councilor Baker voting __________.
Councilor Barnes voting __________.
Councilor Buck voting __________.
Councilor Davis voting __________.
Councilor Henderson voting __________.
Councilor Huff voting __________.
Councilor Turner Pugh voting __________.
Councilor Thomas voting __________.
Councilor Woodson voting __________.


______________________________ _________________________
Tiny B. Washington, Clerk of Council Teresa Pike Tomlinson, Mayor


9.
Add-On
A RESOLUTION
NO.________

WHEREAS, senior citizens are Georgia's most vulnerable population with many socio-economic barriers to quality of life issues. With the advent of the "Baby Boomer generation, the 60 and above is the fastest growing age cohort. Funding received from the Older Americans Act along with State funding are not keeping pace with the increasing needs of the senior population; and,

WHEREAS, in the River Valley Region alone, the following Home and Community Based Services have been provided: More than 212,013 meals to clients during FY15; More than 31,362 hours of services provided to clients for Homemaker, Personal Care and Respite Care for FY15; and 5044 hours of services provided to caregivers through the Respite Care Services Voucher Program; and,

WHEREAS, continual funding is also needed for the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, The Elderly Legal Assistance Program , and the many Senior Wellness Programs under The Home and Community Based Services.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE COUNCIL OF COLUMBUS, GEORGIA, HEREBY RESOLVES AS FOLLOWS:

We hereby respectfully request that the local legislative delegation to the Georgia General Assembly continue advocating for and support additional funding in the 2016 Session to be allocated for Home and Community Based Services for Georgia's Senior population. Let a copy of this Resolution be forwarded by the Clerk of Council to each member of the local delegation to the Georgia General Assembly.
______________

Introduced at a regular meeting of the Council of Columbus, Georgia held on the _______ day of ___________ 2015, and adopted at said meeting by the affirmative vote of ______ members of Council.


Councilor Allen voting __________.
Councilor Baker voting __________.
Councilor Barnes voting __________.
Councilor Buck voting __________.
Councilor Davis voting __________.
Councilor Henderson voting __________.
Councilor Huff voting __________.
Councilor Turner Pugh voting __________.
Councilor Thomas voting __________.
Councilor Woodson voting __________.


______________________________ _________________________
Tiny B. Washington, Clerk of Council Teresa Pike Tomlinson, Mayor