Augusta has a vast system of at least 29 boards, authorities and commissions whose responsibilities range from governing the city's airports and entertainment venues to financing economic development projects to hearing dog-bite cases.
The most current information on file with the Augusta Commission, however, reveals that nearly 70 appointees' terms have expired, some more than a decade ago. Among the approximately 270 appointees, terms of 40 more expire this week.
According to Commission Clerk Lena Bonner, many of the boards' bylaws specify that a member can continue to serve until a qualified successor is appointed.
Such is the case with the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority, where all seven members' terms have expired. The terms of Joseph Collier, Shirley Darby and Bonita Jenkins ran out Dec. 31, 2009, and the terms of Louis Harris, David Hogg, Brad Usry and Cedric Johnson expired Dec. 31 of last year.
On the Development Authority of Richmond County, the terms of five of the nine members expired in 2009.
Most of the boards have 12 members, with 10 appointed from a commission district by one or more commissioners and two appointed by Augusta's legislative delegation. Among the approximately 30 board members appointed by the legislators, only six have expired terms.
The unwieldy system has not escaped notice of commissioners, who were presented a list of all board members last week.
Commissioner Jerry Brigham remarked that some of the names "were serving 10 years ago." Commissioner Grady Smith asked whether there was a way to keep attendance at the meetings.
"There are a lot who want to serve," he said.
The grand jury alluded to Augusta's system of boards and committees in a January report on the planning commission and the city's plans to subsume licensing and inspections within planning. While noting that combining activities into a single department could save money, "one area of dysfunction centers on the 20 to 30 economic development boards that exist in the area," a grand jury subcommittee wrote.