(Henrik Fisker)

Yacht-owner tax break bill facing choppier waters in Georgia Senate

A tax break designed to entice the owners of giant yachts to get their boats retrofitted and repaired in Savannah glided through the Georgia House in February, but it is facing much choppier waters in the Senate.

The Senate Finance Committee narrowly approved House Bill 125 this week and some top Senate Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, are opposing it.

Under the legislation by state Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, a boat owner would have to spend more than $500,000 on a retrofit, repair or maintenance job before getting any break on sales taxes on parts, engines or equipment. The bill is designed to create a new big-boat repair and retrofitting business along Georgia’s coast.

Stephens said the owner of the Savannah Yachting Center — the politically connected Colonial Group — is planning to invest $50 million to $60 million into the big-boat business and is promising to create hundreds of jobs.

Colonial Group operates a collection of shipping, and oil and gas businesses, including Enmark gas and convenience stores. The president of Colonial and the company are active political players, donating to the campaigns of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, and Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, among others.

For more on the yacht tax break, check out the full story on myajc.com

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