The Augusta Commission will have another chance to set the county’s mill rate today after it rejected an ordinance on third reading calling for a 1.75-mill increase last week.
After nearly two hours of debate, during which commissioners received biting criticism from residents who packed the commission chambers, a motion to pass the ordinance failed. Commissioners Bill Fennoy, Corey Johnson, Bill Lockett and Marion Williams voted in favor of the increase.
Commissioners were left with two options, according to city Finance Director Donna Williams. The first was to restart the process and revisit the proposal two weeks later.
Commissioners elected instead to hold a called meeting Monday at 11:30 a.m. to adopt and approve a mill rate that will then be submitted to the Georgia Department of Revenue.
Compromise might not come easy. Some commissioners, including District 4’s Alvin Mason, vehemently opposed the increase, saying the city should look within its departments to free up additional funds.
“At some point, plans and actions have to be brought forward to address not what do we do to get out of this debt, but how do we stop getting into debt in the first place so that we don’t have this issue,” Mason said last week. “That has yet to be addressed appropriately.”
Fennoy, the District 1 commissioner, said a 1.75-mill increase wouldn’t be enough.
“I think it needs to be at 2.14 because of the needs of the city,” he said as the crowd laughed.
After the abrupt resignation of District 6 Commissioner Joe Jackson, the commission has also been tasked with appointing his replacement. The issue will be discussed at Monday’s meeting,
It is anticipated that Ben Hasan, who was elected in a July runoff as Jackson’s successor, will fill the vacancy, Johnson said.