Ga. revenues dive for December

ATLANTA - Georgia lawmakers got some bleak fiscal news as they prepare to open their legislative session next week.

State money managers reported Friday the tax collections plummeted for December. Revenues were down 8.9 percent compared to the same month the year before. For the fiscal year that began July 1, tax collections are down 2.7 percent.

Gov. Sonny Perdue has already ordered most state agencies to cut spending by 8 percent to make up a deficit expected to top $2 billion. The bad news in December could mean those cuts may have to go even deeper.

Utility plans upgrades to grid

SAVANNAH - Georgia Power will have a plan by the end of January for short-term safety upgrades to the aging electrical grid in downtown Savannah, where underground cable fires have sparked two explosions since August.

Cathy Hill, the utility's regional vice president for coastal Georgia, said Friday the company is asking industry experts and other utilities for advice. Possible improvements could include restraints to anchor manhole covers and temperature gauges to monitor for overheating cables.

'We're doing everything possible,' Hill said in an interview. 'By the end of January, what we will have is any additional measures that can be added to improve the safety of the system.'

Ga. fines gas stations for gouging

ATLANTA - Georgia regulators have fined nine gas stations so far and continue to investigate nearly 200 others over consumer complaints of price gouging when Hurricanes Gustav and Ike made fuel scarce last September.

Some of the stations have to refund money to customers who can prove with a receipt they bought gas during the price spike, while others have to pay up to $5,000 in fines to the state. The stations are among 200 the state is investigating over complaints of unfairly raising gas prices after Gov. Sonny Perdue activated the state's anti-gouging statutes Sept. 12, said Bill Cloud, spokesman for the Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs.

Voter mentioned on election night turns 107

ATLANTA - One of the oldest voters for the nation's first black president, who was mentioned by name in his acceptance speech on election night, is celebrating her 107th birthday on Friday.

For her big day, Ann Nixon Cooper plans to have a private dinner with friends and family. On Sunday, Cooper will be feted at her southwest Atlanta home during an open house that will include a buffet and birthday cake.