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Commission OKs budget for 2011

Cuts, furlough days among approvals

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With almost no public discussion, the Augusta Commission adopted a 2011 budget Tuesday that cuts the sheriff's office by $750,000, includes five furlough days for employees and grants the city administrator sweeping power to make further cuts.

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In the 2011 budget approved Tuesday, almost $600,000 will be used to subsidize Augusta's transit system. The $133.9 million budget requires cuts to the sheriff's office and five furlough days for city employees. The administrator can make future cuts.   Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
In the 2011 budget approved Tuesday, almost $600,000 will be used to subsidize Augusta's transit system. The $133.9 million budget requires cuts to the sheriff's office and five furlough days for city employees. The administrator can make future cuts.

"We've balanced the budget, but there's still some hard decisions to be made on services and how to come up with the $1.5 million in savings through reorganization," City Administrator Fred Russell said.

Working for weeks before the meeting with individual commissioners, Russell secured the needed votes, keeping debate about how to trim a total of $9.4 million to a minimum.

In a resolution included in the budget, Russell is directed to implement a reduction of operating expenses and reorganize the departmental structure of the government to save money, including the elimination of government positions as needed.

Balancing the $133.9 million general fund budget also includes postponing the purchase of $2.3 million worth of equipment, selling $2 million of city-owned property and taking $1.5 million from reserve funds.

The city owns property on the river that would bring much more than $2 million, Russell said.

An additional $600,000 is expected to be saved on the prisoner medical contract by using an Association County Commission-ers of Georgia program recommended by Commissioners Jerry Brigham and Joe Bowles.

Before the vote, Commissioner Bill Lockett said he still had concerns about the reorganization.

Finance Chairman Don Grantham's motion for adoption passed 8-1, with Bowles voting no and Commissioner J.R. Hatney absent from the meeting.

Afterward, Bowles said he voted no because, despite the resolution, he was not satisfied the $1.5 million in cuts would not come back before the commission for approval.

"The reorganization plan is a great idea, but we don't need the commission involved in the reorganization of this government," he said. "When that happens, you get into personalities, and certain employees start being protected, and we won't realize the savings that were once realizable."

Russell said the commission will have discussions in coming weeks about what the reorganization plan will be.

"And, hopefully, we'll be able to come up with consensus that meets my recommendation," Russell said. "It's a marathon. It's not a sprint."

Grantham said the resolution gives Russell the authority to reorganize the government and take to the commission his decisions for ratification.

Almost $600,000 will have to be used to subsidize transit, and $193,820 to subsidize the Municipal Golf Course. The city also will have to give $250,130 to Housing and Community Development.

In other business

In other action Tuesday, the Augusta Commission voted unanimously to revoke the beer and wine license and business license for Mamie Lee's Southern Cooking on Tobacco Road for failing to comply with the city's dance hall ordinance and failing to comply with the ordinance that requires restaurants that serve alcohol to show that 50 percent of their sales were for food.

During an audit of the restaurant's records, the owner could not provide city auditors with itemized sales receipts, License Inspections Director Rob Sherman said.

Attorney Jack Batson, who represented owner Teresa Cummings, contended his client had not been provided due process.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham said all issues concerning Mamie Lee's were addressed in earlier public meetings, some of them by Brigham himself, and recorded in the meeting minutes.

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kareyclark
0
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kareyclark 11/17/10 - 03:50 am
0
0
Does this mean City

Does this mean City Administrator Fred Russell can furlough his own worthless self and do away with his position permanently? Instead of making more cuts to the Sheriff's Office, how about cutting the Marshal's Department, and doing away with the cars and cell phones for the commissioners.

thelaw
0
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thelaw 11/17/10 - 05:14 am
0
0
Why the people that are

Why the people that are making 50,000 plus a year are not taking furlough days. Why they want to give the days to the people that are just barley getting by to pay there bills.

Why the guy that is over the bus transportation saying that he think the bus routes should not make any money. He is slow and if he know how to run the department they would not have to go to the commission every year asking for money. They need expand the routes out to south Augusta and they could cover the 500,000 short fall. If Fred Russell quit being concerned about west Augusta and start trying to build up south Augusta that would be more tax revenue and they would not have to worry about the furloughs days. Put some hotels and restaurants out near the Airport and that would make more money for the city also. They have people in power that only care about making money for themselves.

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 11/17/10 - 08:49 am
0
0
you guys don't get it, when
Unpublished

you guys don't get it, when the GOVERNMENT OWNED tee center gets built it will be such a financial benefit to the city, it will bring millions...no! wait maybe billions into the city coffers. oh..i wonder if the gentleman from sc who proposed building a hotel near the tee center(once construction has started) has broken ground yet????

Southern_Patriot
0
Points
Southern_Patriot 11/17/10 - 09:08 am
0
0
Cuts to the sheriff's dept.?

Cuts to the sheriff's dept.? what a bunch of dunderheads!

CATFISHSTEW
14
Points
CATFISHSTEW 11/17/10 - 09:38 am
0
0
If the RCSO would do like the

If the RCSO would do like the North Augusta Public Safty"s policy and get
the 4 or 5 of those Black Heat Cars that they use..Some people call them Rolling ATM machines,and start getting people that are speeding,running red lights and more DUI enforcement, it would not take very long to makeup the $750,000 shortfall. I know everyone has noticed speeding and running of red lights her in town and our Hwys.
set higher fines for violations.It seems to be working across the river..Some won't like it, but it help their budget.

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 11/17/10 - 09:40 am
0
0
Thelaw, The bus

Thelaw, The bus transportation ticket prices need to be raised to reflect the cost of operation and that goes to "The Patch" also in the way of green fees. If there are golf carts available then they should also be required to be used which brings in more. As far as building motels and resturants in south Augusta. I am all for that but the money is supplied by investors who want to make a profit and they go where they think there is the. biggest potential. Buiilding of motels and resturants is not a government function.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 11/17/10 - 10:03 am
0
0
Karey, commisioners do not

Karey, commisioners do not get cars, they get gas cards, and I know of several that opt out of the benefit.

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 11/17/10 - 10:37 am
0
0
LOL...lets see just how much

LOL...lets see just how much backbone Russell has.....there's a lot of city employees that need to be fired....Sams is just the first of many who comes to mind.

AWyld1
3
Points
AWyld1 11/17/10 - 10:38 am
0
0
The cuts to the RCSD will

The cuts to the RCSD will only hurt South Augusta..but hey thats nothing new...SA has been ignored since consolidation, hence the outflux of lifetime SA residents leaving or renting their houses out. My sons tell me the H.E.A.T. cars in North Augusta mean hand everyone a ticket lol. Don't want a ticket over here...don't speed.

bojangles
0
Points
bojangles 11/17/10 - 10:46 am
0
0
Granted the City

Granted the City Administrator more power is a wonderful notion on one condition: That the City Administrator understands the wide sweeping economic impacts of each decision. I looked up Mr. Russell's bio to get a better understanding of his background, which ironically enough, is all in LAW ENFORCEMENT. Mr. Russell has had a very respectable background in both his professional life and education, but has not formally studied public administration or financial public policy. Cut the police budget seems foolish considering businesses will not want to invest in a place that customers do not feel safe. I am sure Mr. Russell believes the police force could operate more efficiently, but as a previous post mentioned, police officers do not make a sufficient amount of money. Reducing all government salaries over $75,000 by 5% would have a far more reaching impact. How about CLOSING the underperforming schools for good, firing the bad teachers (not necessarily the ones with the low test scores) instead of doing the "lemon teacher shuffle" between schools, incentivizing effeciency (real bonuses to police, fire, and education personnel for tangible benchmarks), and generating creative money making solutions (like H.E.A.T. cars). I wholeheartedly agree with the post referring to City Commissioners having gas cards and cell phones. That is a joke.

storiesihaveread
358
Points
storiesihaveread 11/17/10 - 11:04 am
0
0
Maybe instead of giving

Maybe instead of giving Costco all this free tax money. They take it back. Costco is a big enough company to support them selves? You don't see wal-mart, wal greens, foodlion, kroger ect asking for tax cuts to come to Augusta or build in Augusta. The only thing Augusta is known for is The Masters. As the Nitty Gritty Dirt band sang "Augusta Georgia is just no place to be" Instead of being known as disgusta Augusta can now be known as the "City of Gloom and Doom"

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 11/17/10 - 11:10 am
0
0
Bojangles, schools have

Bojangles, schools have nothing to do with the city budget. They are not included in this budget mentioned. Their budget is about three times higher than the city budget, which is why the BOE carries more clout than most people recognize.

newsjunkie10
6
Points
newsjunkie10 11/17/10 - 11:11 am
0
0
The commission does not need

The commission does not need to cut the Sheriff's Office with the crime rate rising. I'd rather be safe. All neighborhoods have crime, but all do not ride the bus. Sorry, but I think community safety should take precedence.

bojangles
0
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bojangles 11/17/10 - 11:23 am
0
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Taylor B, I agree with you

Taylor B,

I agree with you and understand what you are saying. Perhaps I should have been more clear with my words. What I was trying to say was that education has an enormous ripple effect throughout the community. It is one area that directly impacts all other aspects of a society and I was referring to a more holistic approach to improving Augusta.

countyman
20153
Points
countyman 11/17/10 - 12:37 pm
0
0
The Costco store hasn't even

The Costco store hasn't even started construction yet. It has nothing to do with the 2011 budget.

storiesihaveread
358
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storiesihaveread 11/17/10 - 01:04 pm
0
0
Countyman come on they can

Countyman come on they can take that costco money stick in the bank for next year then. Let it draw interest. You think it will be any better next year in Augusta? Did I hit a raw nerve about costco with you. I am sure the store will be open sometime in 2011, does not take that long to build something. They had a new Wal-mart open in less than 6 months.

AWyld1
3
Points
AWyld1 11/17/10 - 01:09 pm
0
0
Just don't mention the crime

Just don't mention the crime in Augusta or the record number of murders...you will get massive delusional low crime FBI statistics...

countyman
20153
Points
countyman 11/17/10 - 01:51 pm
0
0
Sometimes I have to reply to

Sometimes I have to reply to the rampant false information spread on here daily.

The Costco store has nothing to do with the current budget.... The money being used for Costco is uncollected taxes... Did somebody compare Costco to Walmart? What Walmart store in Augusta is jump starting a 100 acre development? The average salary at a mature Walmart store isn't $48k per year or $17 per hour.

This year isn't a record for murders.. Let me guess, the FBI statistics are delusional because they don't portray the crime rate you wanted lol. Take up your beef with the FBI and please don't hate the messenger.

Just mention any positive news or facts that don't portray Augusta in a negative light. You will get massive amounts of haters.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 11/17/10 - 01:51 pm
0
0
I'm no govt budget expert but

I'm no govt budget expert but it seems to me that Costco WILL cost the taxpayers money.

Here's how.

Consumers are not going to have more spending money just because Costco showed up. Because of Costco, they will shop less at Sam's, Best Buy, Walmart, the grocery, etc etc.

Those store will collect LESS tax revenue and Costco will not be turning any tax revenue over anytime soon so there will be a tax revenue shortfall.

Now, you can make the case that Costco will attract folks from out of the area and that is true to a small extent. Not enough of them will come to make up for the tax revenue shortfall that will occur because of this deal.

AWyld1
3
Points
AWyld1 11/17/10 - 02:12 pm
0
0
No, statistics (any

No, statistics (any statistics) are delusional because they rely on trends which can skew the data. In other words if you had 50 murders a year for 10 years then only had 1 a year for 10 years you could skew your statistics based on the 20 year or 10 year data. Augusta is a crime ridden area. If you dispute that then you never leave your house. I was born and raised in South Augusta and lived in the same house for about 35 years. It was a upper middle class neighborhood that I wouldn't live in now if you bought me a house there. I love Augusta but I see a place that is not was it was and a government that doesn't care about South Augusta only downtown and the Washington Road area. You have a PR mayor that recieves a huge taxpayer paycheck to cut ribbons and run in ironman races. The record murder rate is a fact that is not in dispute nor based on a statistic. We had a record number of murders by a certain time in the year and are looking to surpass or equal previous numbers. Before you even start I don't care about the crime rate in cities the same size as Augusta. Go tell that to the family members of the 30 something murder victims in Augusta and see if they care either...If the commission doesn't address the crime rate in South Augusta, and soon, more taxpayers will be leaving the area for surrounding counties.

SlapShot2
0
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SlapShot2 11/17/10 - 02:16 pm
0
0
Stay strong Countyman. I

Stay strong Countyman. I appreciate your attuitude.

LaTwon
1
Points
LaTwon 11/17/10 - 04:37 pm
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countyman who is the

countyman who is the benefactor of the 10mil? who is going to be collecting rent from costco? just what r these site improvements?
the buildings?

follower
59
Points
follower 11/17/10 - 04:56 pm
0
0
Chillen is correct. There is

Chillen is correct. There is a finite amount of money that will be spent at those stores. Costco will just take some of the pie at the expense of existing stores. Additionally, Wal-Mart, as well as most of the larger big box stores will not locate here without incentives. Whoever first opened that cookie jar will never get the lid back on.

As for a balanced budget, not so. If they are taking 1.5M from the reserve fund, it's still spending more than is taken in. The only difference with the federal budget is at least it's not borrowed.

corgimom
32627
Points
corgimom 11/17/10 - 06:03 pm
0
0
Chillen, stop making perfect

Chillen, stop making perfect sense!

Don't you know that Augusta is a boom town and a regional shopping destination? It is. Because Countyman said so. With gas at record prices, people will drive RIGHT PAST all the Wal-Marts and Sam's Clubs to save a couple of dollars. *snort*

AWyld, I got out of South Augusta in 1988, and I thank God every day that I did so.

jcaran418
0
Points
jcaran418 11/17/10 - 08:59 pm
0
0
Are the citizens of Richmond

Are the citizens of Richmond Co. aware that due to employee furloughs fire companies are being shut down every day? At least Joe Bowles understands. I am a Lieutenant with the Augusta Fire Dept. and Engine Co. 3 on Reynolds St. will shut down Friday 11/19/2010 at 4:00 pm.

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 11/17/10 - 09:23 pm
0
0
These budget cuts are a JOKE

These budget cuts are a JOKE just as the furlough days are at least regarding Public Safety. We have to re-call firefighters and end up paying some overtime so others can be furloughed, the Marshalls Department at the airport is paid through Federal Funds but since the furlough days, it actually COST LOCAL TAXPAYERS approximatley $12,000.00 in lost revenues because by law we must maintain minimal staffing, which we are already doing. The Sheriff's Office is already the lowest paid in the area with no benefits - Do you really think we are going to keep good deputies. There is so much in the budget that could be cut other than public safety is it ridiculous. As for the loosing golf course, privatize it, now!

Although I don't believe in waisting tax money, maybe the Sheriff needs to sue the commission to get the funds he needs - past experiences from other counties make it clear that he will get what he needs.

The Augusta Chronicle or News 12 really needs to investigate all of these furlough days within Public Safety and get the real truth as to what is going on to include wasted overtime, loss of grants, etc.

smec29
31
Points
smec29 11/17/10 - 11:50 pm
0
0
Didnt most RC residents have

Didnt most RC residents have an increase in their property taxes this year? Well, I know South Aug did. The Sheriffs dept is the absolute last place that should be cut, find it somewhere else. I've said it before, get a single mom in there, they make it work all the time on alot less than these clowns.

Little Lamb
46081
Points
Little Lamb 11/18/10 - 10:46 am
0
0
Sylvia Cooper wrote: With

Sylvia Cooper wrote:

With almost no public discussion, the Augusta Commission adopted a 2011 budget Tuesday that . . . includes five furlough days for employees.

Well, the city administrator and the sheriff will decide that they shouldn't be too hasty in furloughing the employees early in 2011, because a fairy godmother might come by and dump a whole lot of cash in the tax commissioner's safe, making the furloughs unnecessary.

So they'll wait until October and announce that the five furlough days will have to be taken in November and December, 2011.

I would think that it would be better to spread the days evenly over the year instead of doing it all at one time at the end of the year.

AWyld1
3
Points
AWyld1 11/18/10 - 12:03 pm
0
0
Actually smec I can't speak

Actually smec I can't speak for anyone else but the taxes on my house in South Augusta have tripled in the last 5 years...part of that was the garbage tax the commissioners forced on SOME residents...and the fact that people near the downtown area pay less taxes than other parts of Augusta. We were lied to to pass consolidation and continue to get noting for higher taxes. I promise the cuts to the RCSD will affect South Augusta more than any other area...

Lori Davis
929
Points
Lori Davis 11/18/10 - 03:17 pm
0
0
There were 414 documented

There were 414 documented police reports of a criminal nature in Harrisburg in the past 6 months. This number doesn't even include calls that didn't require documentation. The Kroc Center will be opening in less than 9 months. Cut RCSO? You've got to be kidding me!

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