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Augusta commission expected to pass budget

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The Augusta Commission is expected to pass today a 2010 budget that does not include a tax rate increase but plans for $4.3 million in expenditure reductions.

City Administrator Fred Russell said Monday that he expects the budget version he presented Nov. 17 to be kept intact, for the most part. When commissioners meet at 1:30 p.m., they'll be technically reconvening the last meeting because city code requires a budget to be adopted at the second meeting in November.

The budget has a general fund total of $124.4 million in revenue and expenses. In order to make up for an $8.6 million shortfall in early drafts, Mr. Russell presented a list of cost-cutting and revenue-generating measures that include:

- Furloughing all city employees -- elected officials included -- for four days in September, October, November and December for a savings of $814,000.

- Cutting $500,000 from the sheriff's office and $500,000 in prisoner costs by working to release nonviolent, non-repeat offenders from the jails more quickly, thus reducing the daily inmate population from about 1,300 to as low as 1,000.

- $163,670 in cuts to the Recreation Department, including $70,000 by phasing out 15 positions through attrition, $25,000 from cuts in the special events budget and $55,000 from shutting off lights at all tennis courts except those at the Newman, Diamond Lakes and Fleming tennis centers, and at the walking tracks at Sand Hills, Brigham, Warren Road, McBean and Blythe parks. Cutting the special events budget will eliminate the First Friday bands and car shows at the Augusta Common from April to October.

- Routing $600,000 a year in beer taxes away from the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority after it finishes paying off the bond that built the James Brown Arena.

- Generating $200,000 a year through stepped up efforts to collect delinquent taxes.

- Saving $650,000 a year through a new employee retirement incentive program.

- Providing only six months of funding for "the Patch" golf course while the city considers privatizing it.

Money would be taken out of reserves for a $1.8 million shortfall in Augusta Public Transit.

Meanwhile, commissioners plan to pursue adding an eighth penny to the sales tax, which if enacted quickly could eliminate the need for many of these cuts. A Municipal Option Sales Tax, or MOST, would generate an estimated $30 million to $35 million per year, and collections could start in October if voters approve the tax in July, adding $7.5 million to $9 million to next year's revenues.

The proposed use of MOST proceeds, according to a resolution expected to be approved in today's regularly scheduled meeting at 2 p.m.:

- 34 percent, or $12 million, to roll back the property tax rate by 3 mills

- 23 percent, or $8 million, for law enforcement, including the sheriff's office, the marshal's office, the 911 center and the Richmond County prison

- 17 percent, or $6 million, for Augusta Public Transit

- 17 percent, or $6 million, for fire protection.

- 9 percent, or $3 million, for capital outlay replacement, such as buildings, vehicles and equipment.

Comments (7) Add comment
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justus4
101
Points
justus4 12/01/09 - 07:10 am
0
0
Watch those cuts from the
Unpublished

Watch those cuts from the police become an opportunity for a commissioner to invoke his love for the force, the great job they are doing, and say that the cuts should come from some other place. A standard operating procedure for one to grandstand about a love of "rule of law" while a so-called investigation is making a mockery of every so-called citizen who follows the rule of law doctrine. What a comple joke!

specialist
202
Points
specialist 12/01/09 - 07:45 am
0
0
I can't believe it ! I

I can't believe it ! I actually agree with Justus. Richmone County is as close to a police state as we can actually get without re-inventing the gestapo. Whats the ratio of cops to citizens in Richmond County? What is it in Macon, Savannah, Atlanta, etc...?

seenitB4
87248
Points
seenitB4 12/01/09 - 08:36 am
0
0
With all the crime in

With all the crime in Richmond Cty. how can you say you have too many police?? Must need them..

Just Another Day
0
Points
Just Another Day 12/01/09 - 10:25 am
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There's too many cops

There's too many cops here.......Cut EVERYTHING and let one person perform, investigating duties, arresting duties, jailing duties, transporting duties and let the on going crime rise to un-manageable levels. That ought to save the non-minority some money in taxes.............And for "specialist", if you think this is a police state, MOVE!!! Airport has tickets going both ways. No problem!!!! Or if you can't move, don't grace us with your presence in richmond County......Stay in your safe little neighboorhood

disssman
6
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disssman 12/01/09 - 11:23 am
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Two points here. one - Isn't

Two points here. one - Isn't it amazing that salaries make up only about 43 percent of our budget? Wonder what the other costs are for? Two - I wonder why Fred didn't say anything about cuts to non-profits? Are they going to furlough their people? In fact just how much of the budget is for supporting these private clubs which are funded by taxpayers with absolutely no say by the general public as to how they will operate.

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 12/01/09 - 11:25 am
0
0
Did you notice that the

Did you notice that the "furlough" days come in Sept., Oct. Nov. and Dec.? Yeah, right. A year from now Administrator Fred (What, me worry?) Russell will declare the budget "in control" and will suspend the furlough days. He will be hailed as a miracle worker by city employees, while the taxpayers will still be hanging on the line to dry.

Just Another Day
0
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Just Another Day 12/01/09 - 12:18 pm
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Oh yeah.....And eat some

Oh yeah.....And eat some pies!!!!!

lifelongresidient
0
Points
lifelongresidient 12/01/09 - 04:38 pm
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with the increased revenue

with the increased revenue generated by the proposed 1 cent additional sales tax, does any one REALLY think 34 million dollars or any part thereof will be used to roll back the mill rate...that 34 million is more money to spend...right "tax and spend" joe..i know..i know, you voted for the resolution to increase a regressive tax (WHICH you as a republican "championed" less taxes at various times during your stint as commissioner), to then "flip/flop(hence john kerry-"you voted for the tax increase to then vote against it). so your strategy is to once the inititive gets on the ballot to then "speak out and vote against it"..good strategy except you now let those who truly want the tax increase to sell by claiming all the good and positive benefits, without any regard for those who may be elderly, need medicines or on tother types of fixed income to be negatively affected by the tax increase...when by voting against the resolution initially you would have forced the 'pro tax increase faction" to find the necessary votes elsewhere

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