Ordinance set to keep $100,000 in Ben Hill

Ben Hill Commissioners go over the energy excise tax ordinance. / Jessica Fairley

Ben Hill County commissioners have been cutting back their budget to stay afloat, but a Georgia House bill passed this year might take even more out of their budget.

That's if a proposed energy excise tax ordinance isn't passed.

House Bill 386 was passed by the Georgia Legislature to keep jobs and promote manufacturing.

"What this bill does is it reduces the cost of energy for manufacturers so that it will encourage more manufacturing," says Frank Feild, Ben Hill County Manager.

But the energy savings for manufacturers means a loss for cities and counties.

"It will reduce the overall taxes that are collected by cities and counties throughout Georgia," says Frank Feild.

In Ben Hill County that loss would equate to about $100,000 per year. It's money officials say they can't afford to lose.

To keep the funds in the area, commissioners are looking over the fine print.

"The law itself allows counties and cities to go together and pass an ordinance that would impose an energy exercise tax and that tax is capped so that you would recoup the money that you would otherwise lose," says Frank Feild.

Ben Hill officials want to collect no more than 2 percent from manufacturers so they'll be able to retain funds, while businesses prosper.

Commissioners also want to make sure that all areas of the county are covered.

"My suggestion is to make the whole county a special district so that everybody could receive the excise tax," says O.D. Netter, Ben Hill County Commission Vice-Chairman.

Once the tax ordinance is altered, commissioners plan to bring it back to the public.

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