Monday, November 12, 2007

Interesting Take on GREAT Plan

Bill Kinney of the Marietta Daily Journal pens an interesting piece on the GREAT tax. He does a great job of outlining some of the unexpected charges most Georgians will pay in this excerpt:

"Young parents with children in daycare, on the other hand, who now might be paying $145 a week for an infant would have to pay an extra $10.15 per week in taxes, which tallies to an extra $528 per year.

On the other end of the spectrum, basic care in an assisted-living facility is now about $2,400 per month. Under Richardson's plan, that would jump $168 per month, or an extra $2,016 in taxes.

"Home ownership would be more costly as well since the real estate commission and closing costs would be taxed, along with your cable, Internet and insurance bills and the cost of home repairs," Radford says.

And let's not forget about food. The average family in the South spends about $5,030 a year on food, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Under Richardson's plan, that would mean an extra $353 per year in taxes."

The more you look at the speaker's plan, the worse it looks.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Oconee County Featured in the Wall Street Journal

The Georgia Club -- which I have long said is one of the best things Oconee County and this region have going for it -- is featured in today's Wall Street Journal. Since development began seven years ago, the Georgia Club has pioneered in a lot of ways -- with unique architecture, wonderful planning, greenspace preservation, mixing uses, etc. -- but it isn't featured for any of these things today. It's featured for something even better and near and dear to the hearts of many in this region: service.

The WSJ highlights the Georgia Club for giving back to the community. Last year, the Georgia Club started a community foundation that is now raising money for great causes across the region, and a percentage of the money on the sale of each home also goes back to charity. This year the foundation's efforts have already supported the Statham library and Statham Elementary. Its upcoming Christmas Tour of Homes, which is open to the public, will benefit several local charities and service organizations including Extra Special People (ESP), Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN), Peace Place, Project ADAM, Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D), Statham Library and The Tree House. This is a great opportunity for the community to visit and give back to a great cause. Now in the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit they are a client of ours at Jackson Spalding. But even if they weren't, I would be raving about this great asset to our region.

If you haven't visited the Georgia Club lately, you should. Just turn in on your next trip up 316 and visit the sales center, or take a quick spin around the community. If you haven't been lately, you'll be amazed by the changes. There are beautiful homes big and small. Lot sizes and price points are varied, accomodating a variety of lifestyles. There is a definite sense of community. The community's latest neighborhood, Oconee Springs, is almost all in Oconee County. Many future homes will be as well.

As Northeast Georgia is mired in a housing slump, homes at The Georgia Club are still selling. Developers, take notice: by doing things right and doing the right thing, you can still sell homes. If we're going to keep building residential in Oconee, I hope a lot more of the communities are like the Georgia Club.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

GREAT Tax Update

Glenn Richardson, Georgia Speaker of the House, announced earlier this week some of the items that conceivably would and wouldn't be taxed under his "GREAT" plan. Among those services that will now be taxed is rental property. Awesome news that should create major headaches for landlords in Athens and Watkinsville, and a major expense for those who rent (try adding 7% to your rent and see if you like what you get). Click here for more. However, Insider Advantage offers more detail, and says rental properties are not taxed as long as you are a legal Georgia citizen. IA gives lots more detail here (subscription required) as does Atlanta Business Chronicle (no subscription required); short story: lots of B2B services are taxed up to a point, and consumers will still be taxed on most of their purchases. It appears as if businesses have gotten some breaks.

A major problem with this whole plan (other than it being a bad idea in general) is that it is a moving target. Just 60 days before the session begins, and we are still adjusting some rather large details.

There is no doubt this plan is bad news for local governments, and I'm pleased the Governor came out against it. Nice to see him take a stand on this issue -- it's bad for business, bad for citizens, bad for local government -- that means its bad for Georgia. Only one group benefits -- the state government.

Veterans Memorial BBQ This Sunday

See below for a message from Chuck Williams. These sort of events are one of the things that make small towns like Watkinsville and Oconee County great. Lets all support our troops and honor our veterans by buying a plate of BBQ on Sunday.
Friends: Attached is the info on Sunday’s Veterans’ Day event. Please distribute this information “far & wide”; if possible, get word to your respective pastors so that it can be included in Sunday’s church bulletins and announcements. If additional information is desired, or if you wish to volunteer for food prep, serving duty or cleanup, please contact Tom Little’s right-hand lady, Linda Ferrara; her contact info is below. The main things we can do are get the word out and attend the event this Sunday. This is a great opportunity for Oconee County to show our respect for all Veterans and for the supreme sacrifice paid by Joshua Reeves (and others) in Iraq (and Afghanistan). Thanks a bunch… Chuck Wms.

Linda Ferrara

Resource Construction Company

Phone 706 353-2218, Fax 706-549-8909

All proceeds from the BBQ will directly benefit the family of Josh Reeves and also the Oconee County Veterans Memorial Foundation. Everything related to the BBQ has been donated. This Veteran’s Day, please join your friends and neighbors as they show their gratitude to the family of Joshua Reeves and the other soldiers from Oconee County who gave their lives fighting for our freedom. Please wear red, white and blue or a military uniform as a visual reminder of their sacrifice. Donations only for BBQ Plates. Drive thru or eat in.

Checks should be made payable to:

Oconee County Veterans Memorial Foundation
P.O. Box 1836, Watkinsville, GA 30677
Contact: Larry Davison, Chair Phone: 770-725-2609 Email:

A few things....

Have had some time on the road this week to do some thinking.... and a few thoughts came to mind.

  • Has it occurred to any Georgia political observers how the national Democratic party faces a similar situation to what the Georgia Democratic Party faced in its gubernatorial nominations? You have a choice between an expert campaigner with baggage (including a divisive personality) and and an articulate, intellectual candidate who will likely have significant crossover appeal. In Georgia, the Democrats chose Mark Taylor over Cathy Cox and got killed in the general election. Will the national democratic party choose Hillary over Obama and make the same mistake? BTW, for those of you who want a good analysis of the debate, check out Peggy Noonan's take.
  • Athens-Clarke County strikes another blow for invasive government with its new tethering laws. I'm sorry, but there are lots of pet owners who keep pets on chains who are caring people. Lets treat the disease rather than the symptoms. I'm sure fencing companies are elated, though. Jmac agrees at Safe as Houses, and provides a more thorough analysis of this issue.
  • Its great news that Hank Huckaby is going to be serving on the oversight committee for the new Walton-Oconee Reservoir. We desperately need some state government insight and perspective on this issue since both the speaker of the house and lieutenant governor are talking about providing money and support to communities who are building reservoirs. Hank has great experience and insight from his days at the Capitol and with UGA. As I've said before, I'm very concerned about funding bonds based on increased water usage, especially if the bulk of it is projected to be residential. Just isn't reasonable if the drought continues.