The Augusta Commission has a first public hearing on the 2018 city budget scheduled Tuesday, although details of the spending plan are not finalized.
At a 11:30 a.m. workshop prior to the 1:30 p.m. hearing, the commission is expected to receive findings from the Archer Company, a firm hired to prepare a compensation analysis of all government employee salaries.
City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson has said she hopes to use the findings to award raises to certain employees next year, while Archer’s Chip King said last month that fully implementing the study will cost $3.9 million.
Meantime, Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree has made a separate case for boosting his staff’s salaries at a cost of more than $2 million, saying low starting pay drives officers away. Jackson has proposed eliminating 14 vacant positions at the sheriff’s office, and more in other departments, in another budget measure under review.
The raises, eliminating vacant positions and increasing health insurance premiums and co-pays are the only aspects of Jackson’s budget the commission has studied to reduce costs or increase revenues, and only the insurance changes have received commission approval. Jackson left most departmental budgets at 2017 levels.
Commissioner Marion Williams said he expected interest at the public hearing on raises for public safety, which the sheriff has publicized. Roundtree said if funds can’t be found, the government should implement a separate tax to fund them.
“I’m thinking the sheriff is going to have people to call, but I think the sheriff knows that we don’t have the money to give the raises we would like to give,” Williams said.
The commission has a regular meeting at 2 p.m. following the public hearing. New agenda items include Commissioner Bill Fennoy’s request to reconsider a $27 million bond-backed development called Foundry Place, to go in the Bethlehem community near R.A. Dent Boulevard and Augusta University. The commission voted down the proposal earlier this year.
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