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JUNE 14 - Business BUZZZZZZZZZ by the SBJ News Team

JUNE 14 Business BUZZZZZZZZZ by the SBJ News Team

Property taxes are going up for public education in Chatham County, but would have gone up MORE if the majority of the African American members of the Chatham County-Savannah Public Schools board had had the votes. After three hours of discussion, the board compromised on a .727 mil increase which amounts to an increase of approximately $27.00 per year per $100,000 of household value.

Members Floyd Adams, Jr. , Dr. Irene Gadson Hines and  Ruby Jones supported a much larger mil rate increase - from 1.5 to  2 mils of increases - to continue to invest in the progress that the system is making in improving test scores and reducing high school dropout rates, but they did not have sufficient support, and all but Hines compromised on the .727 mil increase.

Board member Susu Cox and Julie Gerbsch supported no mil rate increase at all, initially, though for different reasons.  Cox said that local taxpayers can not afford any tax increase.

Gerbsch’s comments centered around her belief that the school budget is not being built “from the ground up” with a zero-based budgeting approach. She reminded the Superintendent and financial staff of the strategy used this year by the City of Savannah, inviting employees to make recommendations on where the City budget could be cut, and with every department having to present detailed information to justify every line item of their budgets.

Member Gregory Sapp said that he felt the .727 mil rate increase was a good compromise, and ultimately Cox and Gerbsch voted to support the increase. Dr. Hines voted against the low mil rate.

The school board will meet again within the next two weeks and could reduce the tax increase, but that appears highly unlikely. A group of parents presented hundreds of petitions from all of the county’s districts in support of a tax increase for public education.

 

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The U.S. Small Business Administration has recognized eight lenders and two investment companies for their commitment to delivering financial assistance to small businesses in the U.S. as part of National Small Business Week, including SunTrust Bank.

According to SBA, more than $29 billion in financial assistance has been provided to small businesses in the past year, which has helped to save and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

In keeping with the heightened importance exports are receiving in the nation’s economic recovery, SBA this year again recognized two banks for their role in lending to small business exporters. SunTrust Bank, of Atlanta, Georgia, received the Export Lender of the Year Award for making the most Export Working Capital loans.

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Kudos to Garden City for earning “Certified Brownfield Status for land that was once contaminated at Garden City Town Center. The certification recognizes the successful clean-up of the 20-acre site, according to the EPA.

“Earning this brownfield certification opens doors to economic development in Garden City,” said Brian Johnson, Garden City’s City Manager. “It’s important to return this land to public use.”

The site, located on Dean Forest Road between Sunshine Avenue and I-16, was once home to a Department of Motor Vehicles office and a Georgia State Patrol post, both of which have been closed for more than a decade. The land was contaminated by benzene from leaking underground gasoline tanks that were previously used to fuel Georgia State Patrol police cars.

The State of Georgia cleaned up 4,000 cubic yards of contaminated material in 2007. In 2008, Garden City took additional steps to remediate the site, working with government agencies and private companies to remove another 12,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil.

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J. William Griffin, CPA and partner with Hancock Askew and Company, LLP has reminded his clients and local businesses that small business owners who pay a minimum of 50% of their employees' health insurance premiums may be eligible for a new federal tax credit implemented as part of the health care reform bill.

Employers can be eligible for a tax credit of up to 35% of the health insurance premiums paid. Qualifying tax-exempt employers are eligible for a maximum credit of 25% of health care premiums paid. The percentage allowed as a credit varies based upon two factors: the number of employees and the average annual wage per employee, according to Griffin. The owner and the owner's salary are excluded from the calculation.

Businesses with up to 10 full-time equivalent employees, and average annual wage per employee less than or equal to $25,000, are eligible to take the entire 35% of health insurance premiums paid as a credit.

The amount of the credit decreases both as the number of employees and the average annual wage increases. Businesses with 25 or more full-time equivalent employees or average wages in excess of $50,000 are not eligible for the credit.

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