Augusta Commission approves TEE Center change order, rejects sales tax funds for The Patch

Tuesday, March 6, 2012 8:22 PM
Last updated Wednesday, March 7, 2012 1:24 AM
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The Augusta Commission approved an $836,288 change order for the downtown Trade, Exhibit and Event Center but rejected a $300,000 sales tax allocation for the city-owned golf course, with one commissioner saying the course money was needed more at the leaky community center where he voted on Super Tuesday.

Brian Hendry, a principal for the private firm that took on management of the Augusta Municipal Golf Course in January, traveled from Scotland to make a pitch Tuesday for the course and its receiving the tax money, which he said he only learned about after signing a contract with the city.

“I have to fight for the golf course; I have to fight for the members,” Hendry said, adding that he has booked clients during Masters Week that have already covered most annual expenses there.

Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle, who joined Commissioners Alvin Mason, Bill Lockett and Corey Johnson in voting against allowing Hendry to use the money for improvements, said he had visited another recreation facility earlier Tuesday to vote in the presidential primary, and the building leaked badly.

Mason complimented Hendry for coming to ask for the money but said the city had already “hoodwinked the community” regarding sales tax money and where it is spent.

“No matter how much we invest, we’re only going to get $1,000 a month back,” Mason said of the rent Hendry pays to lease the public course.

Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles mentioned that sales tax money has been designated to other private entities such as Symphony Orchestra Augusta and Paine College.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham said voters had approved the money for the course so that’s where it should go, instead of being reallocated to some other use.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver, who might have broken a tie had Commissioner J.R. Hatney not been absent Tuesday, remarked that as “the golf capital of the world,” Augusta ought to look at “making strategic investments” when it comes to recreation.

Lockett said it was “very insulting” to learn that Recreation Director Tom Beck had informed Hendry about the availability of the sales tax money.

The TEE Center change order passed 7-2, with Mason and Lockett opposed, after failing 4-5-1 on Feb. 21.

Bowles said the city's project manager, Heery International, had recently provided the commission a list of eight convention centers in the region that had the higher fire safety standards requested in the change order, including one facility owned by the city of Macon.

“I don’t think Marriott’s going above and beyond state minimum standards just for the heck of it,” Bowles said.

The change has been a popular talking point for weeks for several commissioners who questioned its necessity, while other city officials said they had tried to negotiate out of the higher standards demanded by Marriott International but were unsuccessful.

Johnson said he just wanted to be kept informed of obstacles along the way, not after the fact.

Lockett continued to question the entire project.

“You haven’t heard the last word on the TEE Center,” Lockett said after the meeting. “It is so messed up.”

Paul Simon, the head of the firm under contract with the city to run the convention center, attributed the change order’s delay in passing to information not being provided to the commission in a timely manner.

He did not expect the change to slow the TEE Center’s completion late this year.

Simon’s firm, Augusta Riverfront LLC, shares management with Morris Communications, the parent company of The Augusta Chronicle.

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Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 03/06/12 - 09:34 pm
2
0
A question for our

A question for our commission, is there a dollar amount at which the TEE Center becomes too expensive?

If not, why not?

If so, what is it?

By the way, can we assume that Marriott will demand the TEE Center to comply with its signage standards? In other words, will it feature the Marriott name rather than the city's name?

gargoyle
17258
Points
gargoyle 03/07/12 - 12:06 am
2
0
Allow me to congratulate our

Allow me to congratulate our Augusta Commission. They have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to every thinking person that they do not care for the wishes of their constituents, do not care for the fiscal wellbeing of our once fine city, or even the legality of their actions. The SPLOST funds were allocated for The Patch; not Hyde Park, not a Ball Field, and definitely not the TEE center! (Yes, there was a SPLOST for the TEE center, but not THIS one.)

The actions of the commission beg the question of why we even go through the farce of voting when it is obvious that in the eyes of our "Leaders", Augusta is only a two mile area around the Marble Palace.

itsanotherday1
43330
Points
itsanotherday1 03/07/12 - 12:11 am
0
0
gargoyle, I don't claim to

gargoyle, I don't claim to know all of the ins and outs; but aren't they required by law to use the funds for what the splost was designated?

itsanotherday1
43330
Points
itsanotherday1 03/07/12 - 12:13 am
0
0
Insider, it is "too big to

Insider, it is "too big to fail" at this point. They were suckered into it this far and can't afford to abandon it now. Thank goodness the the folks didn't get suckered into the "Billybarn".

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 03/07/12 - 12:25 am
1
1
Each vote taken by the

Each vote taken by the commission gives a vote to Lori Davis.

dichotomy
33066
Points
dichotomy 03/07/12 - 12:36 am
1
1
Giving the Paul Cabal and the

Giving the Paul Cabal and the Marriott the money.......wrong decision.

Not giving the golf course the money and instead you spend it on the symphony and Paine......wrong decision. If you didn't want to give the golf course the money you could have at least spent it where it would do some good. Like the 3 ft. pothole out here in front of my house.

Guilfoyle........what can I say.....another south RC mistake.

"The TEE Center change order passed 7-2, with Mason and Lockett opposed"

And that's probably the only thing on which I have ever agreed with Mason and Lockett. I know they just voted against it because they don't like the old white guys who are pulling the strings downtown. But that's okay. It was still the right way to vote. The rest of the commissioners, the mayor, and the administrator are all in bed with Paul and the boys. They will approve ANY amount of money for the TEE.....because Paul told them to.

This is a sick sick county and the voters, the taxpayers, have no say so at all in how their money gets spent. Once we send a commissioner downtown they immediately forget where the came from and who they represent.

irishfarmer
24
Points
irishfarmer 03/07/12 - 01:45 am
2
1
The money for the patch

The money for the patch should have gone to them for 1 time someone was going to match dollar for dollar to make something better and what happened our commissioners turned stupid again. why dont these commissioners just come out and admit they want the patch to fail and quit hiding it. as someone who only plays the patch and goshen plantation on a regular basis i should know. The money should have been passed again i might add for the patch. Also Tom Beck like some other fools we have as directors over some city departments should be fired. That will never happen a house cleaning of sorry directors over city departments because our commissioners are gutless and weak.

Riverman1
84175
Points
Riverman1 03/07/12 - 06:04 am
3
0
The TEE request should have

The TEE request should have been rejected, The Patch approved. The Patch is like a park the whole community can use. It was voted for by the citizens. It was going to be matched by private interests.

Can we just simply have all tax money paid directly to the Morris-Simon companies and have them give us what they feel we need out of the leftovers? It will be simpler that way rather than having this charade of local government working to give them everything.

Little Lamb
46072
Points
Little Lamb 03/07/12 - 09:40 am
1
1
Look at this from the article

Look at this from the article above:

Commissioner Alvin Mason complimented Hendry for coming to ask for the money but said the city had already “hoodwinked the community” regarding sales tax money and where it is spent.

Boy, is Mason bitter or what? Maybe that criminal charge is getting to him. But didn't he just attend a retreat at the Marriott Hotel where all the commissioners agreed not to criticise each other in public? Didn't the Carl Vinson Institute facilitator tell them that they could disagree on a vote, but when the vote is taken they all needed to support the action going forward? Mason doesn't look like a team player.

Little Lamb
46072
Points
Little Lamb 03/07/12 - 09:44 am
3
0
From the article: The Augusta

From the article:

The Augusta Commission approved an $836,288 change order for the downtown Trade, Exhibit and Event Center but rejected a $300,000 sales tax allocation for the city-owned golf course.

Yes, the city hired a private management company to run the golf course, but the city still owns it. It is short-sighted and foolish for the city not to put money into the course periodically for improvements.

Little Lamb
46072
Points
Little Lamb 03/07/12 - 09:48 am
1
0
itsanotherday wrote: Thank

itsanotherday wrote:

Thank goodness the the folks didn't get suckered into the "Billybarn".

The TEE Center has become the new Billybarn.

Little Lamb
46072
Points
Little Lamb 03/07/12 - 09:53 am
0
0
gargoyle wrote: The SPLOST

gargoyle wrote:

The SPLOST funds were allocated for The Patch; not Hyde Park, not a Ball Field, and definitely not the TEE center! (Yes, there was a SPLOST for the TEE center, but not THIS one.)

Then itsanother day replied:

I don't claim to know all of the ins and outs; but aren't they required by law to use the funds for what the splost was designated?

I think gargoyle is on the right track here. The SPLOST funds in question showed up on the ballot as general improvements throughout the recreation system. You have to give the director of the Rec. Department some discretion as to where the funds get the most bang for the buck.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 03/07/12 - 10:17 am
1
0
Just curious... Richmond and

Just curious...

Richmond and Columbia counties have built several schools in the past few years.

Are they built to state fire code standards or Marriott standards?

If it is good enough for our kids, then it should be good enough for Marriott.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 03/07/12 - 10:55 am
0
0
meh, how surprising

meh, how surprising

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