Downtown Development Authority is asked for parking plan

Augusta commissioners have questions about the Downtown Development Authority's proposal to become the city's parking police and have postponed action for 30 days so the authority can answer them.

Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to refer the proposal back to the authority for specifics on how much it will cost to run the program and how much revenue it expects.

Commissioner Don Grantham asked DDA Executive Director Margaret Woodard to come up with a business plan for commissioners to consider.

"We've had costs presented without any revenue stream," he said. "I'm asking the DDA not to be dependent on the general fund."

City Administrator Fred Russell suggested that the DDA schedule a session with commissioners to allow them to ask questions and express concerns they have received from the public about the parking proposal.

DDA member Sanford Loyd took exception to the motion and said the ordinance had been to commission committees twice and to the full commission twice.

"The process had gone on for quite some time," he said. "I guess I just don't understand the process, the process in terms of where we are."

Russell said the proposal would not be complete - and commissioners not satisfied - until the concepts, methodology and verbiage were understood.

"This time we're talking specifics," he said. "This time we're talking words."

Loyd said the verbiage has been in place all the time and had not changed.

Commissioner Bill Lockett challenged that statement, saying the numbers had changed from meeting to meeting.

"People aren't stupid," he said. "You write a ticket, put a boot on a car, they aren't coming back. If you were using your own money, you wouldn't be for it."

Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Mason said the DDA could agree to meet with commissioners and give them the specifics or they could vote right then, and he didn't think all commissioners were on board.

Parse out the parking issue
Businesses cool on parking tickets
Panel OKs shift in parking authority
Downtown parking measure falls short
Commissioners approve parking enforcement
Parties vying for Patch will present packages

Augusta commissioners delayed a decision on the Augusta Municipal Golf Course for 60 days to allow Augusta State University, First Tee of Augusta, the Richmond County Board of Education and other interested parties to put together a package that would save the course at no cost to the city.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham tried to persuade his colleagues to again seek proposals from private firms to lease the course, known as the Patch, for a minimum of five years and a maximum of 10 years.

He said commissioners need to "stop the bleeding" from the city's general fund to make up for losses at the course.

Commissioner Joe Bowles said any entity interested in leasing the property can submit a proposal, but ASU President William Bloodworth, who attended the meeting, said the school cannot legally enter into a multiyear lease.

"There's no way legally ASU could respond to the RFP," he said.

Brigham's substitute motion to seek proposals failed 3-7 with him, Bowles and Commissioner Joe Jackson voting for it.

The motion to postpone for 60 days passed 7-3, with Brigham, Bowles and Jackson voting no.

The city's first requests for proposals did not yield a qualified proposal, according to the city's Procurement Director Geri Sams. The single proposal received is now under appeal.

More