$721 million in projects sought from sales tax

Commission has deadline for May vote

A proposed sales tax project list city leaders hope to include in a May 20 ballot referendum leaves much work to be done.


City department heads and other agencies held little back in their wish lists to the city finance department, according to a compilation of their requests distributed to commissioners Thursday and obtained Friday by The Augusta Chronicle.

The requests total about $721.7 million. They include $370 million sought by the engineering department for roads and drainage projects, $106 million requested by the recreation department for upgrades to its facilities, and $64 million sought by outside agencies, such as the Augusta Regional Colla­boration Project founded by Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

While Augusta Com­mission members have un­til March 21 to vet the list, Copenhaver revealed last week that the tax referendum must include an $8 million match for Georgia Regents Uni­ver­sity to break ground on a cancer research center. He said the sales tax package must be passed in May to borrow $8 million against the future tax collections to get the matching funds in the bank by a June state deadline.

Some commissioners think they can get the list whittled down in the next six weeks, in time to make the May ballot, while others including Commissioner Bill Lockett have said the process is moving entirely too fast.

“Obviously, we are not going to do that,” Com­missioner Donnie Smith said of the entire slate of projects.

When Augusta voters were presented a sales tax package valued at $476 million in 2004, they rejected it, but they approved a scaled-down version with $160 million in projects a year later.

Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said he hoped city staff will help the commission produce a package that doesn’t overlook south Richmond County.

“I would like to see it done in May, if we can get it done right,” he said.


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A look at the five proposed special purpose local option sales tax projects with the biggest price tags:

$47.5 million

for drainage and road work on Second through Eighth streets in the Laney-Walker and Bethlehem districts


$34 million

for Diamond Lakes Regional Park


$30 million

to repay bonds issued for renovations at the Municipal Building


$15 million

for a new public safety radio system


$14 million

for the Arts Council’s Public Art Implementation


Among the projects costing at least $1 million sought from the next special purpose local option sales tax package:


$12.9 million Symphony Orchestra Augusta to renovate the Miller Theater

$12.5 million Water park

$12 million Augusta Regional Collaboration Project’s Mills District plan

$11.3 million New 911 center

$8.5 million Dyess Park

$8 million Cancer center match

$8 million Paine College’s James Brown Community and Fine Arts Cultural Center

$7.5 million Three fire stations

$6 million Imperial Theatre renovation

$2 million Richmond County marshal’s operating center

$5.75 million Improvements at the Maxwell, Friedman, Wallace and Appleby branch libraries

$5.6 million Downtown Development Authority’s Augusta Commons Phase II

$5 million “Project administration” by the mayor and administrator

$5 million For demolitions

$5.2 million Elliott Park

$4.75 million Augusta Museum of History expansion

$4.7 million Hephzibah multi-use recreation facility

$4 million Sheriff’s office civil division building

$3 million Newman Tennis Center

$3 million Downtown business incubator

$1.5 million For Blythe – undetermined

COMPLETE LIST: Projects requested for consideration under SPLOST VII


Thu, 01/18/2018 - 22:44

Rants and raves

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 22:41

Shutdown would hit Augusta hard