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Commission authorizes sale of surplus real estate

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 8:18 PM
Last updated Wednesday, May 23, 2012 2:05 AM
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The Augusta Commission authorized selling 20 surplus properties, including two fire stations, a library, a train depot and more than 70 acres of vacant land at a Tuesday called meeting.

Exercising a new privilege under Georgia’s revised open meetings law to discuss the disposition of publicly-owned property behind closed doors, the group discussed “challenges and opportunities that each might give us,” City Administrator Fred Russell said. The sales will be handled by two Augusta-area real estate firms, Blanchard & Calhoun and Sherman & Hemstreet.

Adding 10 new tracts to an earlier list, the total assessed value of the properties is more than $9.87 million, according to city property records.

The city will use two methods to sell the properties – sealed bids and conditional sales. Most of the more valuable properties with buildings on them will require sealed bids, while the undeveloped tracts will be sold under conditions placed on the buyer.

The most valuable properties on the list are the historic South Carolina Railroad Co., depot and adjoining acreage at 511 Reynolds Street, assessed at $786,033, the city’s 14-acre traffic engineering facility at 386 Prep Phillips Dr., valued at $987,322, and the former main Augusta Library at 902 Greene St., assessed at $3.77 million.

Russell said he hopes to generate $1 million in revenue from the sales this year.

Augusta Senior Counsel Wayne Brown detailed to eight commissioners present Tuesday a strict timetable for the advertising, public opening and awarding of bids for the properties to be sold that way.

Also Tuesday, Russell presented pros and cons of a proposed contract with Automatic Data Processing or alternatives for the city’s human resources department if its functions are not outsourced.

“You should be at least getting more comfortable to be able to make a decision,” Russell said of the ADP proposal, which the commission has debated for months.

The alternatives are either increase staff of the city’s HR office, which currently has seven employees, to 15, a $1 million to $1.5 million budget hike, or contract with ADP and retain seven city employees to handle Augusta’s grievance process and other functions ADP can’t do, Russell said.

Additional concerns Russell had were the city’s under-utilization of a government computer system called IFAS, which could automate certain HR functions, and the lack of standard operating procedures in the office.

“If we don’t get better, ADP can do these things, there’s no doubt in my mind,” he said. “But it will cost.”

The cost to contract with ADP will be at least $2.44 million for the first five years, and about $2 million annually each year thereafter, according to Russell’s presentation.

The city’s contract with IFAS costs $100,000 a year. Deputy City Administrator and IT Director Tameka Allen said the city’s HR functions were limited when the program was adopted in 1999 and a prior HR director preferred not to use it. But IFAS’ HR capabilities have increased since then, she said.

Commissioner J.R. Hatney, a critic of outsourcing government, said the move to ADP amounted to “government playing Russian Roulette with the livelihood of its people. To have equipment that was not adequately used is not a reason to go outside.”

ADP invited the entire commission to tour its Augusta Solution Center, where some of the outsourced work would be performed, Wednesday.

Surplus property map

Comments (11) Add comment
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Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 05/22/12 - 08:42 pm
5
0
A new "privilege" to discuss

A new "privilege" to discuss the dispostion of PUBLICLY OWNED properties BEHIND CLOSED DOORS?...... WHAT?....This is absolutley OUTRAGEOUS!!!!
What ELSE will these people decide it is a "privilege" to discuss behind closed doors?
My outrage isn't about the disposition of said properties, but the fact that the "ruling elite" in this city have yet ANOTHER tool at their disposal to cut out the PUBLIC....or in their minds , the great unwashed......
If these jokers are doing such great work.....why does it have to be behind closed doors? Mr.Mayor? ...Commissioners? Someone have an answer?
I'm not holding my breath.....

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 05/23/12 - 06:42 am
3
0
Should all be held in a

Should all be held in a public auction, not sealed bids. Many will sell significantly below assessed value......welcome to our world.

Nothern_Aggressor
40
Points
Nothern_Aggressor 05/23/12 - 06:51 am
0
1
Augusta is a waste. and it
Unpublished

Augusta is a waste. and it all began with it's lack of leadership.

Little Lamb
47012
Points
Little Lamb 05/23/12 - 07:38 am
1
0
Trust

Bill Lockett and Alvin Mason have lobbied for a forensic audit of the real estate deals made between Fred (What, me worry?) Russell and several private LLCs downtown. Why should they trust him now with the ADP deal or these proposed behind-the-scenes real estate deals?

Little Lamb
47012
Points
Little Lamb 05/23/12 - 07:44 am
0
0
Ho Hum

This story was dead as a doornail yesterday. Might as well bring the link back up for the connection:

Fire Sale

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 05/23/12 - 07:45 am
0
0
New math?
Unpublished

How is almost 6 million worth of property only making 1 million in revenue? Did I misread that?

gcap
290
Points
gcap 05/23/12 - 08:35 am
3
0
Privatize A-RC

All possible services that can be outsourced should be. Why? Simple. All private organizations do infinitely better than all government organizations. Especially in A-RC where incompetence and racism are in the headlines daily. Hire private companies for more and more functions and watch the city grow with some efficiency. And while they're at it, might as well re-write the charter, which was written by two current jailbirds.

Little Lamb
47012
Points
Little Lamb 05/23/12 - 09:59 am
1
0
Just Us

Let's you and me re-write the charter, gcap. Then we might become two future jailbirds.

mrducks
59
Points
mrducks 05/23/12 - 10:56 am
0
0
Dysfunctional Government
Unpublished

From the closed meeting to the proposed sale to the mayor's relatives, this stinks to high heaven. Corrupt business as usual. We get what we vote for: incompetence, nepotism, secrecy, and incompetence. When will WE hold these clowns accountable for their idiocy?

Little Lamb
47012
Points
Little Lamb 05/23/12 - 01:03 pm
1
0
Fractured

I'm glad Susan McCord captured this bit of gibberish from Fred (What, me worry?) Russell:

“You should be at least getting more comfortable to be able to make a decision.”

Let's look at more serious issues here. Fred tells commissioners that he has "concerns" about the lack of standard operating procedures in the Human Resources office. Well, I don't know how concerned he really is, because the Human Resources office reports to him. He's been city administrator for a decade or more, and he hasn't ordered anyone to write standard operating procedures. How concerned is that?

Little Lamb
47012
Points
Little Lamb 05/23/12 - 01:08 pm
1
0
Concerns

And Fred tells commissioners he is "concerned" about city’s under-utilization of a government computer system called IFAS, which the city is paying an outside computer firm $100,000 a year for support. Well, they've been paying it since 1999 and Fred is only concerned in 2012? How concerned is that?

Oh, and we learn that a prior HR director preferred not to use the IFAS software. Was Fred concerned? Did he worry? That prior HR director reported to Fred for years and Fred did not order him to use the software. What kind of manager is that?

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 05/23/12 - 01:32 pm
1
0
1 - vote for your

1 - vote for your commissioner replacement if the one you got isn't working.
2 - experience disappointment regularly with current ones.

Circle one and move on, lest we all go somewhere in a handbasket!

Little Lamb
47012
Points
Little Lamb 05/23/12 - 01:51 pm
1
0
If Only

Incumbent commissioners seldom have challengers. We have to wait eight years for them to get term-limited out.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 05/23/12 - 01:54 pm
1
0
oh yea, I don't remember the

oh yea, I don't remember the last rave our city administrator received, assuming there was one of course. Why is he still involved in the equation then? Isn't he an appointment? Mayor, can you address this? Nobody is asking you to cut him from the team, but his unpopularity does beg to ask who is on his side? Most everyone in the community who posts here thinks he's Alfred E. Newman. I don't ever see positive comments about the guy. I noticed also that you and many of the commish don't post here. So using the laws of deduction, are yall the folks that constitute the bulk of his support? Isn't that a conflict of interest jez a lil?

And...
All the talk about commissioners with interests in real estate and all the less-than-transparent moves regarding REAL ESTATE, whether it be city-owned or private, leads everyone to believe that someone somewhere is making a dishonest dime from said moves. This is not a good way for our relationship to continue. The people of the city need to support and embrace the people that run it. I don't see any of that going on. OK maybe at election time for obvious reasons, but the other 99% of the time, yall are raked over coals. At some point we have to admit it is rightfully so, being that nobody is coming to yalls defense. That's where I'm coming from anyway.

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