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Bowles calls parking deck agreement unfair to taxpayers

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Fresh calculations presented Tuesday by Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles appeared to show Augusta getting the shorter end of parking management agreements with Augusta Riverfront LLC.

The agreements, the latest hurdle in many months of debate associated with the new downtown convention center set to open next year and two adjacent parking facilities, place an undue burden of the decks’ expenses on taxpayers, Bowles said, although they split revenues more evenly.

“It looks like they want to be partners in the revenue, but not partners in the expenditures,” Bowles said.

The firm, which operates the Marriott and was authorized by the commission in 2009 to run the parking decks and convention center, has close ties with the management of Morris Communications Co., owner of The Augusta Chronicle.

Showing scribbled calculations on an overhead projector from what he said was about two weeks’ effort, Bowles, a CPA, said at Tuesday’s commission meeting that the management agreements make Augusta Riverfront more money than they do the city.

“It was obvious when I looked at the numbers that Augusta Riverfront would have walked away with $50,000 and the taxpayers of Augusta would have walked away with $16,000,” Bowles said.

The complicated agreements have Augusta paying Augusta Riverfront $25,000 plus expenses to operate the new brick parking deck on Reynolds Street, but with Augusta Riverfront simultaneously paying the city $50,000 annually to rent a reconfigured deck connected to the existing Marriott conference center.

“The way that they backed out the $50,000 rent payment as revenue that Augusta Riverfront had to pay out, yet deducted it from the income they earned, it was quite misleading,” Bowles said.

The agreements had the approval of Augusta’s law department, Russell and Augusta Riverfront before they were presented to the commission.

Before the meeting, City Administrator Fred Russell said he’d likely advise Augusta Riverfront President Paul Simon that commission support for the agreements was not there, and Simon canceled a speaking appearance before the commission.

“I didn’t think it was even going to be discussed,” Simon said from his home Tuesday night.

He said that he thought Bowles’ assertions were probably incorrect but that he wanted to hear them firsthand.

Commissioner Corey Johnson said the agreements were “too complex for us to really dissect the control aspects,” and Commissioner J.R. Hatney said they were “just convoluted.” Commissioner Bill Lockett asked why the work had been put out for bids last year if they were to be discarded.

“A contract should be a compromise where both sides come and meet in the middle,” Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said.

The commission, minus absent member Alvin Mason, approved Bowles’ presentation as information and the parking facilities will remain on month-to-month agreements until parties agree on a plan at a future work session.

Simon said he plans to attend the work session to hear and address Bowles’ concerns.

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balloon2008
88
Points
balloon2008 08/08/12 - 08:10 am
6
0
Go Joe !

Thanks for drawing the commission a picture,anybody notice that you cannot find this story unless you search Joes name. It does not show up unless you do! Shame on you. Chronicle for trying to hide the stories.

Little Lamb
44850
Points
Little Lamb 08/08/12 - 08:51 am
7
0
Our Coming Loss

2013 and beyond will be dismal years for Augustans, because the loss of Joe Bowles from the Commission will usher in years of wandering in darkness. Thank you for your service, Joe. You are a voice of clarity and morality.

Thank you for taking the time to study the agreements and point out the obvious — Riverfront takes the revenues, Augusta pays the expenses.

allhans
23471
Points
allhans 08/08/12 - 09:12 am
2
0
To be fair, not all have Mr.

To be fair, not all have Mr. Bowles capacity of understanding the situation. They can only believe what they hear...

KSL
124785
Points
KSL 08/08/12 - 09:58 am
4
0
Here's my comment, LL. Sounds

Here's my comment, LL. Sounds fishy and definitely unfair to the taxpayers.

Little Lamb
44850
Points
Little Lamb 08/08/12 - 11:21 am
6
0
This doesn't make sense

From Susan McCord's Monday story:

Paul Simon, the president of 933 Broad LLC and Augusta Riverfront LLC, the firm seeking to manage the deck, will address the commission at the start of today’s meeting.

And now from the story above:

Before the meeting, City Administrator Fred Russell said he’d likely advise Augusta Riverfront President Paul Simon that commission support for the agreements was not there, and Simon canceled a speaking appearance before the commission. “I didn’t think it was even going to be discussed,” Simon said from his home Tuesday night.

So Monday, Mr. Simon was slated to be on Tuesday's agenda and speak to the commission. Ms. McCord even says he was going to speak at the start of the meeting, as if he had sought and been granted permission to address the commission on a matter of concern to him (which, of course, was to urge commissioners to vote on the permanent parking deck agreements). Then, we hear not only did Mr. Simon not show up to speak, but he says he "didn't think it (the parking deck package deal - LL) was even going to be discussed." That doesn't smell right.

An even more curious construction is the following sentence from Ms. McCord:

Before the meeting, . . . Fred Russell said he'd likely advise . . . Simon that commission support for the agreements was not there, and Simon canceled a speaking appearance before the commission.

What is this deal about "he'd likely" (implying future conditional tense) versus "canceled" (signifying past tense)? Should the sentence have said that Fred Russell told Paul Simon well before the meeting that six votes could not be guaranteed? If so, why is Fred (What, me worry?) Russell acting as Paul Simon's inside mole?

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 08/08/12 - 12:02 pm
0
0
I love this.

I love this.

Little Lamb
44850
Points
Little Lamb 08/08/12 - 03:15 pm
4
0
Discard

From the story:

Commissioner Bill Lockett asked why the work had been put out for bids last year if they were to be discarded.

When you read something like this, you just have to shake your head. Commissioner Lockett, when the city puts out something for bid, it is to get more than one proposal so that terms can be compared and, hopefully, the Commissioners can pick the terms best for the city. Now that Joe Bowles has done the heavy lifting and exposed that the Riverfront proposals are not a good deal for the city, it is time for the Commission to reject the Riverfront proposal and choose one of the other bidders.

Sigh.

Riverman1
81339
Points
Riverman1 08/08/12 - 05:12 pm
5
0
LL, Want Me to Translate?

LL, your powers of observation about Simon and the Commission meeting were 20-20. Translated it all means Fred Russell called Paul Simon and told him what Bowles was going to do and warned him it would be a bad night to come.

Riverman1
81339
Points
Riverman1 08/08/12 - 05:36 pm
2
0
$350,000 to Market TEE

We also set a precendent by paying to market the TEE nationally for a cost of $350,000 a year. Watch this become a permanent expenditure. Realize every event that comes here (if there are any) benefits only one hotel. Another hotel owner in the area pointed out to me how wrong that deal is. If you want more guests you do your own marketing like every other hotel in the area.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 08/08/12 - 06:34 pm
3
1
About that call, can you say,

About that call, can you say, "cahoots"?

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 08/08/12 - 06:36 pm
2
1
Oh, Joe gets it.

Most importantly, kudos to Joe Bowles, even though Paul says he doesn't get it.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/08/12 - 08:20 pm
0
0
What does this whole quagmire

What does this whole quagmire look like from the Marriot's perspective? They have best seat in the house, season tickets even. What an impression we must give outsiders smdh.

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