Government

More News | | | Editor

Augusta Commission approves sheriff's downtown safety plan

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 10:26 PM
Last updated 11:36 PM
  • Follow Crime & courts

Augusta Commission members approved Sheriff Richard Roundtree’s plan to implement additional security downtown using security cameras and a new tax, if business owners agree.



They also authorized hiring Fort Worth, Texas-based McDonald Transit to run Augusta Public Transit starting Aug. 1, during a four-hour session that included nearly an hour behind closed doors with attorneys Tuesday.

Roundtree’s proposed Continually Patrolled Dis­trict, a new business improvement district under Georgia law, would have to go before property owners within yet-to-be-determined boundaries downtown for it to fund three certified officers’ salaries and three “community safety officers,” bringing the total number of police assigned downtown to nine.

“If we move forward with the BID, we’re moving forward with asking the taxpayers if this is what they want,” Roundtree said.

The CPD’s boundaries will reflect owners who support the proposal, but deputies will leave the district if they’re the closest responding officer to a nearby crime, he said.

Commissioner Joe Jackson, who with Commissioner Mary Davis opposed the plan, asked whether the city could fund the plan without implementing a tax district.

Downtown residents “deserve the security and the protection whether there’s a buy-in or not,” Jackson said.

The plan approved also includes the purchase and installation of 32 security cameras for $342,000, but omitted Roundtree’s earlier recommendation to close Riverwalk between 11 p.m. and sunrise.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver said the CPD was the most “democratic” way to fund additional law enforcement, and could be used as a template for other parts of the city.

“And that’s what’s exciting about it,” Roundtree said.

While Roundtree’s CPD is not yet formed, an earlier BID that commissioners terminated last year generated about $353,834 in taxes through an extra 6-mill levy. The funds generated determined the level of service provided.

After prolonged discussion and questions, commissioners approved 6-4 the hire of McDonald Transit to replace Mobility Transit, whose contract expires July 31 and with whom the city is in mediation over a contract dispute. Alvin Mason, Corey Johnson, Bill Lockett and Marion Williams voted no.

McDonald was the recommendation of an internal procurement committee that included transit liaison Sharon Dottery.

Asked by Lockett whether the city could run the service itself, Dottery said yes.

“Why do we want to outsource this? We have the expertise in house,” said Lockett, who pushed to return it to city management for a trial year.

Deputy Administrator Tameka Allen said the committee had been in talks with each of four qualified bidders about potential expansion of bus routes, but that the program’s total cost ultimately will depend on the number of revenue hours the service runs.

While the award passed, Fennoy asked why the commission would have had staff solicit bids for the program, then abandon the recommendations. “Again, we’ve got to look at the way we do business,” he said.

PROPERTY TAXES WON’T GO UP

The commission agreed unanimously Tuesday not to raise property taxes and instead to set as tentative millage the “rollback” rate, which will generate the same amount of revenue from the city’s digest of property taxes. The rollback rate is “a tiny bit less than the rates from last year,” Finance Director Donna Williams said.

The rates, which must be advertised before final adoption, are 7.987 mills in the urban services district, 8.042 outside the old city limits, .781 mill for capital outlay and 2.14 mills for fire protection outside the old city limits. They are distinct from the 19.11 mills levied by Richmond County Board of Education, which board members have said they plan to increase.

Comments (27) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Little Lamb
49137
Points
Little Lamb 07/16/13 - 09:55 pm
7
2
Expertise In House

The city of Augusta uses outside contractors to process the city's payroll.
The city of Augusta uses outside contractors to run the TEE Center.
The city of Augusta uses outside contractors to run the Marriott parking deck.
The city of Augusta uses outside contractors to collect solid waste.
The city of Augusta uses outside consultants to submit dozens of studies to tell them what would be cool for Augusta.
The city of Augusta uses an outside contractor to operate the city’s wastewater plant.
The city of Augusta is entertaining the notion to allow a fat cat businessman to operate the city golf course.

What's so bad about allowing an outside contractor to run the bus system?

corgimom
38521
Points
corgimom 07/17/13 - 05:25 am
8
4
If someone had the choice of

If someone had the choice of locating a business Downtown, and pay higher taxes for police protection (which they shouldn't have to pay an additional tax, they already paid once) , and locating outside of Downtown, where they wouldn't have to pay the special tax, which would they choose?

GnipGnop
12744
Points
GnipGnop 07/17/13 - 06:06 am
10
3
That's right people....

Mayor Deke Copenhaver said the CPD was the most “democratic” way to fund additional law enforcement, and could be used as a template for other parts of the city.

Coming soon to your neighborhood...poor people will not get as good of police protection because they can't afford to pay the tax.....anyone hearing this? Black ministers? Now you have something to stand up and complain about....will you????

If I were a business owner downtown I would fight this in court. You already pay taxes for police protection. This should be ILLEGAL!!!!

bubbasauce
24260
Points
bubbasauce 07/17/13 - 06:05 am
8
1
Tax, tax and more taxes. When

Tax, tax and more taxes. When does it stop? It's the people in our government who never have any problem raising our taxes. They just have to find the right way, the good feeling way to do it! Thanks Joe and Mary for standing up to this nonsense.

nocnoc
49228
Points
nocnoc 07/17/13 - 06:15 am
5
1
LL - on Outside bus service

A more local minority business wanted to take on the job. Which explains at least why : Alvin Mason, Corey Johnson, and Marion Williams voted no.

As I understand it.

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 07/17/13 - 06:15 am
1
5
toll booth

I about got cussed out on here for supporting some parking meters down town. I'd like to see a toll booth to get down town. Toll booths with cameras. maybe just on the weekends to start.

Young Fred
21143
Points
Young Fred 07/17/13 - 06:15 am
2
5
GnipGnop - It was my

GnipGnop -

It was my understanding from the article that the extra money raised from "downtown" would pay for extra "downtown" police. I didn't see anything about poor people getting less protection.

Now, I'm not up as some on Augusta politics, but I don't see how this is a bad idea.

Extra police protection, paid for by the people receiving the extra protection sounds reasonable to me. I wouldn't disagree that some other areas need and deserve extra protection, but if downtown businesses are willing to pay, what's the problem?

nocnoc
49228
Points
nocnoc 07/17/13 - 06:28 am
5
2
A big welcome to Big Brother

Enjoy your new TAX downtown .... or at least Downtown for now.
Because I can already foresee the next step.

Add a few cameras here and there in other areas to make the TAX ARC wide.

Wait a year or 2 its coming.

GnipGnop
12744
Points
GnipGnop 07/17/13 - 06:32 am
5
2
read this then Fred

Mayor Deke Copenhaver said the CPD was the most “democratic” way to fund additional law enforcement, and could be used as a template for other parts of the city.

He's all but telling you if we have high crime areas that need more police protection a tax is coming...what areas have the highest crime? POOR AREAS!!!

Young Fred
21143
Points
Young Fred 07/17/13 - 07:32 am
4
1
Wow, talk about a smack

Wow, talk about a smack down!

Like I said, I’m not as up as some on Augusta politics. But – I believe, just from what I’ve personally witnessed – the “poor” areas have a higher police presence than most other areas of the city. I can almost promise you’ll see more cruisers on a trip down East Boundary than you will a trip up Riverwatch.

Now, if this “safety plan’ is just an excuse for a wholesale rise in taxes all around, then I’m with you. I’d say we’re not getting our money’s worth for what we pay (I don’t live in Augusta, but I do pay property and sales tax to Richmond county, and Income tax to Georgia).

I rant right up there with the best of them when it comes to the inefficiencies of our local government – But given the chance to pay a little extra for a little extra protection, while maintaining the fight against bloat and waste, I’ll do it. Hopefully we’ll get to the point where we’ll get our money’s worth for tax dollars spent. BUT I’m an old man, been fighting this fight for a long, long, time, just trying to be a realist without being a defeatist.

I’ll never give up, but I’ve learned how to play the cards I’ve been dealt.

movingtoaugusta
63
Points
movingtoaugusta 07/17/13 - 08:34 am
1
1
What's next?

What's next? A toll booth on Broad Street to fund a police benevolent fund? Sheriff Roundtree, you ran for this office with the promise to enforce the laws of our community. We don't need 32 cameras at $10,000 each (really ? $10,000 each?) with an annual operating budget of to be determined to staff the camera room, service the IT, clean the lenses, etc. All for the sake of taking a picture of a crime in progress.

Why not buy a couple of Bad Boy Buggies and patrol downtown with them? You say you already have some, buy more. Forget the cameras.

BTW, how good are the cameras at the intersections at stopping people from running red lights? Negative contact there...........They aren't hooked up. Is this the same road we are going down again?

Sheriff, you ran for the job, you got the job, you seem to be doing a very good job in other areas, show us your stuff here too.

internationallyunknown
5048
Points
internationallyunknown 07/17/13 - 08:52 am
3
0
What good will the camera's

What good will the camera's do?

Kinda creepy....what happens to all of the footage....

dichotomy
37533
Points
dichotomy 07/17/13 - 09:41 am
1
1
Paying for DOWNTONW

Paying for DOWNTONW development and redevelopment doesn't leave much money for the "city" to actually provide fundamental municipal services. If you actually want garbage service, you have to pay DOUBLE the going rate. If you actually want drain pipes and ditches, you have to pay a RAIN TAX. If you actually want police protection FROM CRIME, as opposed to police reaction AFTER YOU'VE BEEN A VICTIM OF CRIME.....you have to pay an extra TAX for that. No sir, can't have those normal municipal services eating up the DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT money and the handouts to PRIVATE ENTITIES and INDIVIDUALS. How many cops could we put on the Riverwalk for the cost of Paul Simon's "give me total power over the Patch and I'll let Paine play free" proposal? What did he want....like $2.5 million of taxpayer money to remodel the course? How long could you fund 3 cops to patrol Riverwalk with $2.5 million. PLUS, we could then LEASE the Patch to the company from Virginia for $125,000 a year and fund another couple of cops to say....oh....protect the mini-markets on Windsor Spring south of Tobacco Rd that seem to get knocked off about once a week.

And of course we knew the delay on the bus service contract was that there was a black owned, rapidly formed, company in the background. The issue NEVER had anything to do with the qualifications of the bidders

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 07/17/13 - 09:55 am
0
0
DOWNTOWN SOLUTION
Unpublished

all that is needed is 1) like former mayor guiliani-impliment a "stop and search program", 2) profile...profile...profile-i they fit the profile pull them over, 3) institute a no loitering ordanance, no standing out in front of an establishment and a no cruising ordanance...if "they" don't like it then have them just not come downtown-they are free to remain in riverglen, olmstead homes, dogwood terrace, cooney circle, or anywhere else bu downtown....

Cameron Poe
1039
Points
Cameron Poe 07/17/13 - 09:57 am
3
1
All morning I've racked my

All morning I've racked my brain for some clever insight on this whole mess. But after thinking about it, I have come to the realization that I just flat out don't get it. I mean nothing they are saying is making sense to me. And from what I read it's not making sense to the rest of you. I guess the scary part is that it makes sense to the commission and they somehow think all of this nonsense is a good idea. The only thing I can think of is that the commission must have some sort of crystal ball, because seeing the future is the only way a rational person would vote for any of this.

Cameron Poe
1039
Points
Cameron Poe 07/17/13 - 10:04 am
2
1
Ive said it before and I will

Ive said it before and I will say it again. It might be time for some recalls and audits. It is time to put some fear into this commission. They clearly are all of the mind that they can do anything their hearts desire, regardless of how it hurts the rest of us. For Deke to say this is the most democratic way to get things done is utter poop. It's a cop out. This whole process as with much of the goings on in this city is lazy and reprehensible. Maybe the citizens of this fair city need to start holding these folks responsible. It's time for the commission to fix these problems they have caused or else get out and bring someone else in. And this process can and should be repeated until someone realizes we are done with it.

Or we could end up as another Birmingham where they did things like install new water and sewage lines in the wrong part of the city, bankrupting the city.

And for the commissioners that read and post on this website I challenge you to explain why this nonsense is good for our city. If you are going to vote for it stand up and explain it to us.

Riverman1
93862
Points
Riverman1 07/17/13 - 10:06 am
1
1
The Mall Has the Best Police Protection

They have their own private police force with many off-duty officers working for them. This sounds like a version of that except it will be run via extra taxes.

gaflyboy
5352
Points
gaflyboy 07/17/13 - 10:18 am
1
2
Cameras?

Cameras are just a step toward a total surveillance state. They may be helpful after a crime is committed, but they do little in the way of deterrence. Most of the thugs already record what they do and post it on youtube. Save the money.

countyman
21638
Points
countyman 07/17/13 - 10:48 am
1
4
Good start

What is the big deal if private businesses were to fund their own additional police protection? He's not forcing them to join the program, and they can simply vote no on the idea.

The city definitely needs cameras in the urban core, and the main corridors in the suburbs.

corgimom
38521
Points
corgimom 07/17/13 - 11:53 am
5
1
I think the business owners

I think the business owners should sue under the grounds that it's unConstitutional, under the "equal protection" clause.

But Countyman, why would the urban core need cameras, if it's so safe, as you have told us so many times in the past?

corgimom
38521
Points
corgimom 07/17/13 - 11:56 am
3
1
But, Augusta business owners,

But, Augusta business owners, BOHICA!

Good luck competing with other businesses that don't have to pay extra for police protection.

This is SHAMEFUL.

Cameron Poe, this is all about a municipality that is going bankrupt and they are getting desperate.

corgimom
38521
Points
corgimom 07/17/13 - 11:57 am
4
1
"What is the big deal if

"What is the big deal if private businesses were to fund their own additional police protection?"

WHY SHOULD THEY, they pay taxes already for police protection, why should they have to pay for it TWICE, especially when so many of those small businesses are struggling, as it is?

corgimom
38521
Points
corgimom 07/17/13 - 12:01 pm
4
1
The businesses on Gordon

The businesses on Gordon Highway don't pay extra.

The businesses on Peach Orchard Rd (Hwy 25, to us old-timers) don't pay extra.

The businesses on Deans Bridge Rd (Hwy 1) don't pay extra.

The businesses on Washington Rd don't pay extra.

All of them get police protection, through their taxes.

It is discriminatory, unConstitutional, and just plain WRONG to do this to people that own businesses in just one particular part of the county!

By that theory, why don't the people on East Boundary pay more taxes? Why don't the people on Olive Rd, Barton Village, and Deans Bridge, and Richmond Hill Rd pay more taxes?

Riverman1
93862
Points
Riverman1 07/17/13 - 12:28 pm
2
2
Let's look at the Mall

Let's look at the Mall example again. They hire a massive police force because it's required to keep crime under control. Without their private security can you imagine what the Mall would look like? They don't put out that kind of money for no reason. Of course the mall also pays huge amounts in taxes, but they understand the police can't keep crime under control in their stores and common areas. Certain areas require a higher level of police protection and should pay for that. Look at all the establishments in the county that pay for off-duty officers to prevent crime. There is a money problem that won't allow such protection all over the county. So we either let certain areas provide their own security or we let the crime occur at a rate most don't want.

Sweet son
11674
Points
Sweet son 07/17/13 - 12:37 pm
2
1
Can you imagine how little good $342,000 worth of cameras

will do. None! Cameras are only as good as the people watching them and man, that is a boring job which will probably pay minimum wage. We hope that Tree is not proposing to man the cameras with $40,000 deputies (salary and benefits). At $10,000 per copy on the cameras I hope each camera has the ability to detect motion and put that video on a dedicated screen so it will get the attention of the snoozing operator.

Sweet son
11674
Points
Sweet son 07/17/13 - 12:38 pm
2
1
Mason, Johnson, Lockett and Williams.

I wondered why they all voted "No." One of the commenters explained it! Nuff said!

llewallen
72
Points
llewallen 07/17/13 - 01:35 pm
1
1
Epic Fail

This is the kiss of death. That area will soon look like the dead mall.

itsanotherday1
48345
Points
itsanotherday1 07/17/13 - 10:32 pm
1
0
I didn't read above comments

So forgive me if I parrot someone. This is a crock. These business owners already pay for the security through business licenses and other taxes. The commission should be ashamed of themselves for trying to extract another pound of flesh from the very people who are keeping downtown alive to begin with when they are flushing money down the toilet on Tee Centers and Laney Walker feel good projects.

Back to Top
loading...
Search Augusta jobs