The Augusta Commission voted to create a Keep Augusta Beautiful affiliate, end a recycling rewards program and shift mosquito control and street sweeping away from the Environmental Services department Tuesday, in an ongoing effort to reduce littering and blight around the city.
City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson, who pushed for the changes, eliminated one of three positions she had requested for the Keep Augusta Beautiful affiliate after commissioners complained about creating new positions. Mayor Pro Tem Mary Davis voted against the changes Tuesday, saying she disagreed with adding the jobs, particularly before an upcoming consultant’s review of the department is completed.
With a coordinator and administrative assistant, the affiliate would operate under Environmental Services starting Dec. 1 and take advantage of the national Keep America Beautiful organization to educate the public, organize volunteers and partners for cleanups and neighborhood revitalization efforts, increase recycling and pursue additional grant funding, Jackson said.
Commissioner Sammie Sias moved to approve creating the program, with a review of its effectiveness in three years and a budget of $150,000. Davis and commissioners Grady Smith and Wayne Guilfoyle voted no.
Other approved changes included eliminating “Recycling Perks,” a rewards program Jackson said would save Augusta $276,000 if eliminated, and moving street sweeping and mosquito control to the city Engineering division, which oversees stormwater fee spending. Previously interim Environmental Services Director Lori Videtto said the restructuring would allow the department to focus on what it does best.
The department previously stated it wanted to end the rewards program Dec. 31. Jackson said last week that the city would take steps to ensure the program’s end date gave customers time to use their points.
Commissioner Bill Fennoy asked if the changes would stop his phone from ringing. Jackson said that was unlikely to happen any time soon.
“Augusta didn’t get this way overnight,” she said. “It’s not going to get fixed overnight.”
Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-3215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.