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Commission approves parking deck agreement

City holds audit rights, will pay $25,000 a year

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Ending nine months of negotiations, the Augusta Com­mission on Monday approved a management deal with Augusta Riverfront LLC for parking facilities connected to the city’s new convention center.

On Monday, Augusta commissioners approved a management deal with Augusta Riverfront LLC for a parking deck connected to the new convention center.  ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/FILE
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/FILE
On Monday, Augusta commissioners approved a management deal with Augusta Riverfront LLC for a parking deck connected to the new convention center.

At a called meeting, the commission voted 6-2 to approve the management agreements, which call for the city to pay Augusta River­front $25,000 a year to run the Reynolds Street parking deck. Com­mis­sioners Bill Lockett and J.R. Hatney were opposed, and Com­missioners Grady Smith and Alvin Ma­son were absent.

Augusta Riverfront shares management with Morris Commu­ni­cations Co., the owner of The Augusta Chronicle.

The commission approved the agreements with a few additional stipulations requested by Commissioner Wayne Guil­foyle, including adding the city’s “right to audit all books” kept by Augusta Riverfront related to the deck and a prohibition against the firm’s marking up charges or adding profits, administrative charges or overhead to expenses for which the city will be billed, with costs not to exceed what Augus­ta Riverfront pays for them.

“My whole thing was making sure we were getting charged actual costs, with no markup,” Guilfoyle said.

The changes attempt to ensure that the city gets the best deal, but they don’t reflect many of the concerns raised by commissioners and community activists over the past nine months, including those that prompted the commission last year to vote to hire an external forensic auditor to examine the deals for criminal activity. The commission later voted against the audit, saying law enforcement could investigate any wrongdoing.

Last week, Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles proposed that Au­gusta receive a larger share of profits and install an elevated crosswalk between the deck and the convention center as a compromise. Those details were said to be incorporated into Monday’s deal.

“It took a long time, but we’re glad we’ve got it,” said Darryl Leech, the vice president and general manager of the Augusta Marriott at the Conven­tion Center, who attended Monday’s meeting with Augusta Riverfront President Paul Simon.

The firm owns the hotel and sought to have the Marriott brand on both the parking deck and the convention center, which is nearing completion.

Motorists are unlikely to notice any changes at the parking deck. Marriott has been operating it on a month-to-month agreement since it opened last year, Leech said.

Mason, who made suspicions over the parking deck the main topic of a May 14 rally on the steps of John H. Ruffin Jr. Courthouse, had not been present for a meeting since June 28, though he appeared after
the parking deck vote to lead a meeting of the Engineering Services committee.

Commissioner Corey John­son, who voted in favor of the agreements, said after the vote that “the concept and the way the whole thing was done could have been better” but that the commission had “cleaned the thing up as much as possible.”

Lockett raised familiar questions about whether the deck land could legally be transferred to the Augusta Land Bank Authority if such a transfer were not covered by the group’s mission statement. General counsel Andrew Mac­Ken­zie said state law governing land bank authorities permitted such a transfer.

Hatney said he wanted proof that Wells Fargo had released a lien that exists on the land before the deal went through.

Jim Plunkett, who served as special city counsel over the deals, said all involved parties would exchange their legal papers at the same time.

IN OTHER BUSINESS

Also on Monday, Augusta Commission committees:

• Settled for $52,500 a workers’ compensation claim by former city employee Beatrice Maxwell

• Approved the assignment of a lease of Augusta Municipal Golf Course to a local firm, The Golf Course at Augusta LLC

• Approved a $96,836 bid for emergency repairs at Fire Station 9, which partially collapsed after impact by a fire truck

• Denied a motion to weigh “price” as a concern in the awarding of bids for city contracts, with Commissioner Bill Lockett asking “why are we trying to fix what isn’t broken” in the procurement department.

• Authorized the city administrator and risk management officials to meet immediately with B.B. Langham, whose family was left homeless by flooding Aug. 11. Langham attributed the damage to the city’s lack of maintenance of Rocky Creek.

• Agreed to move forward with hiring a human resources director and to restructure the department.

Comments (15) Add comment
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Riverman1
171462
Points
Riverman1 08/27/12 - 08:48 pm
6
2
We really showed um alright

We really showed um alright with that parking deal.

Before all this is over we'll have city employees making up the beds at the Marriott and cleaning the bathrooms with some kind of claim it's a 70-30% fair deal.

Little Lamb
64324
Points
Little Lamb 08/27/12 - 09:07 pm
4
0
Competitive Bids

Paul Simon was on Channel 6 News tonight saying that the Marriott just has to have control of the parking decks because they have not liked how things have gone the past twelve years with their not being in control.

I guess competitive bids every 3 to 5 years or so is no longer an option.

Insider Information
4011
Points
Insider Information 08/27/12 - 11:11 pm
6
0
No IQ Requirement

Just a reminder that as long as you have a pulse, meet the residency requirement and pay a fee, you too can be an Augusta Commissioner.

Congratulations, commissioners! Thanks to your absolute brilliance we get to "keep" a share of the profits for a parking deck that we paid for and built.

Why do you even pretend to represent the public?

soapy_725
50287
Points
soapy_725 08/28/12 - 05:16 am
0
1
I knew it was illegal but I voted
Unpublished

for it, but when I am no longer on the commission I will sue the county, but as I am still am member of the "YES MAN" club an my handlers say YES, I will vote Yes again for an illegal transaction.

soapy_725
50287
Points
soapy_725 08/28/12 - 05:17 am
0
1
How broad is this conspiracy to defraud taxpayers?
Unpublished

Does it include Columbia County residents/power brokers?

soapy_725
50287
Points
soapy_725 08/28/12 - 05:19 am
0
1
Next additional revenue wil be needed
Unpublished

to rename the structure.

Conservative Man
5989
Points
Conservative Man 08/28/12 - 06:14 am
3
1
Sad sate of affairs when the

Sad sate of affairs when the AC does not even mention the citizen's group that brought all of this to the forefront 10 months ago, and attended all of the meetings to continue pressure. This local citizen's group found out that the land under the deck was not owned by the city, and if the truth were known, ARLLc, never intended to turn it over to the city. I guess the Comical is getting fearful of the truth being known, after all they do operate through their own propaganda. Where are the real reporters in this city including television media? Oh wait,won't be long until there is a new kid in town.

OpenCurtain
10055
Points
OpenCurtain 08/28/12 - 07:19 am
4
0
Some Improvements, but far short of whats best for the Taxpayers

Now we have the Chickens guarding the Fox at the Floating Hen house. Auditing the books offers a lot more than we had before. But it still leaves those who initially made a poor deal in charge of writing their own evaluation.

What we need is an empaneled Richmond Co. Special Grand Jury to investigate several recent special deals including this one.

It has been done before, is simple to request and use a Grand Jury to do so. see http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/1999/11/18/met_274783.shtml

2010 Georgia Code TITLE 15 - COURTS CHAPTER 12 - JURIES
ARTICLE 4 - GRAND JURIES PART 2 - SPECIAL PURPOSE GRAND JURIES § 15-12-100 - Procedure for impaneling special grand jury...

scgator
1042
Points
scgator 08/28/12 - 09:55 am
2
0
Back several years ago, while

"Commissioner Lockett......EVERYTHING is broken in the procurement department and has been for 10 years or so."

Back several years ago, while doing outside sales for a contractor, Mr. Smith and I were discussing Augusta's bid process; he told me "We have a minority person as a front; he bids on all of our city bids. When he gets the bid, we do all of the work under his name and license. If we didn't, we would never get any city business..........." And that's how it REALLY is with the Procurement dept............been there already.

Insider Information
4011
Points
Insider Information 08/28/12 - 09:50 am
3
0
Golly, it sure is awfully

Golly, it sure is awfully nice of them parking "management" folks to let us taxpayers keep some of our money.

Their generosity just knows no bounds.

scgator
1042
Points
scgator 08/28/12 - 09:52 am
2
0
commissioners should be held

commissioners should be held to the same employment rules that the public has to abide by..............no show @ work and YOU don't have a job!!!!!!

Augusta is on the way to moral collapse; the political collapse has already taken place.......................I do not understand why Augusta taxpayers do not band together and file a class action agenda to remove ALL of these people from office and management. Taxpayer revolt is my choice. I would go to one of the larger banks (no local corporate board) deposit all of my tax money when it is due in an escrow account, with my name and the city's name on it.............then as a group, give the city father's a list of changes that WILL be made and when they are made, then and only then, release the funds to the city......................extreme idiocy takes extreme measures

Riverman1
171462
Points
Riverman1 08/28/12 - 12:08 pm
0
0
We Should Pay for Newspaper Building Too

Pay for the printing of the newspaper, too, while we're at it. After all the paper draws thousands of visitors to Augusta every year and makes us a first class town. Let's pay to put them in a first class building...at the very least.

Insider Information
4011
Points
Insider Information 08/28/12 - 12:49 pm
2
0
Next up? A downtown stadium

Cal Ripken is already drafting a proposal...

The City builds him a stadium, pays the salaries of the players and staff, covers all of Cal's expenses and pays him a hefty sum to "manage" the stadium.

In return, he generously will give a portion of the profits.

rebellious
23022
Points
rebellious 08/28/12 - 01:46 pm
2
0
The Numbers

I finally found the numbers for the Reynold Street Parking Deck.

Revenue (Projected) $248,400

Expenses (All) $206,370

Net Operating Income $ 42,030
Management Fee $ 25,000
Balance $ 17,030

Augusta share (70%) $ 11,921
Annual Lease $ 50,000

Positive cashflow $ 61,921

Cost to Build $10,000,000 (?)

ROI 161.49 years

Want me a piece of that bidness model.

rebellious
23022
Points
rebellious 08/28/12 - 06:03 pm
2
0
Guilfoyle

Hats off to Commissioner Guilfoyle for reserving the right to audit the books. Thumbs down to MacKenzie for not having it in there from the "get go". And Joe Bowles gets us another $3400 by driving the net split from 50/50 to 70/30. Still, not blaming, but citizens spend $10,000,000 and get $61,921 a year. OH yeah....I forgot, economic impact and the multiplier. That's right! We will need that to feed the TSPLOST dollars for that Windsor Spring Road widening.

Riverman1
171462
Points
Riverman1 08/28/12 - 07:19 pm
2
1
Let's Look At Other Things

Realize the Marriott makes a mint from the groups staying there. What would you think they charge for dinner for instance for a group of 430? Let me give you some numbers that are pretty close if not exact, because I understand the norms around here. Say if they had a dinner with a hosted premium bar...who knows how many thousands that would be with Bud at 4.00 and imported beers at 5.00 and wine at 7.00 per glass and mixed drinks at 6.25? The dinner would be 37.00 plus 21% service charge x 430 = $19,251.11. Realize breakfast and lunch seved for groups also turn a large profit although not quite as much as dinner. When they use our building, should we be getting a cut of that or PAYING them? I’d say they are sitting on a gold mine funded by the taxpayers. No wonder the Marriott was glad to put their name on the place. The TEE Center should have been built at the JB Arena with all the hotels, restaurants and various venues sharing in the profits is the truth of the matter. This is a taxpayer funded and Commission created monopoly.

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