Although some Augusta taxpayers might grumble about the cost of the James Brown's send-off at the James Brown Arena on Saturday, Mayor Deke Copenhaver says it was a great investment.
"The positive worldwide media attention that this brought to Augusta will have a long-term economic impact that will far outweigh the cost to the city," he said.
"Saturday's service showed Augusta in a positive light to countries throughout the world. Augusta was on the front page of every major newspaper in the world for paying fitting tribute to the Godfather of Soul."
And that service, which cost a little more than $48,000, brought thousands of visitors to Augusta and will bring more in days to come to affect the local economy, Mr. Copenhaver said.
The mayor said he doesn't think many people in Augusta understand what is coming to the city when the movie about Mr. Brown is released. He sees Augusta blossoming with live music halls.
"The poetic irony is that that type of attention for Augusta is what he wanted all along," he said. "He wanted to see Augusta become a live music center."
Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority Chairman Harry Moore agrees with Mr. Copenhaver that the positive image of Augusta seen around the world will probably pay off.
"I realize it's taxpayers' money, but I have had legislators and many other people call, telling me what a great job we did," Mr. Moore said. "But there are some others out there questioning the cost to taxpayers, and they are correct."
Mr. Moore said he has some questions himself about the costs.
"I do have some questions about it because in the beginning it was just the use of the building, but then they realized we'd have to have some people there," he said.
City Administrator Fred Russell also said Augusta benefitted from the exposure and the weekend surge in the local economy. One particular hotel that normally has about 60 rooms rented had 100 rented during the weekend, he said.
Overtime pay for deputies will be paid from unfilled positions in the sheriff's department, said Col. Gary Powell.
Overtime pay for Recreation Department employees and food costs for deputies and all employees will be paid for from a special events account and from Mr. Russell's budget, Mr. Russell said.
Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GRAND TOTAL: $48,311.13
A look at the breakdown of the cost to Augusta taxpayers for James Brown's funeral:
|Overtime for 117 deputies||$33,891.99|
|Overtime for marshals||$2,477.71|
|Overtime for Recreation Department staff |
and food costs for deputies and city employees
|COLISEUM AUTHORITY TOTAL||$9,168.99|