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Disparity exists in Augusta's property tax system

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It’s the proverbial elephant in the room, and it has been sitting there more than 16 years.

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Augustans receive the same trash service, but they pay different amounts depending on where they own property. City officials say state legislation could be passed this year which would force Augusta to remove trash fees from property tax bills.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Augustans receive the same trash service, but they pay different amounts depending on where they own property. City officials say state legislation could be passed this year which would force Augusta to remove trash fees from property tax bills.

Ignoring the problematic pachyderm, however, might no longer be an option as some consider ways to address the city’s “unfair” property tax system – possibly through the courts.

It was a problem City Admin­istrator Fred Russell became aware of when he was hired 10 years ago. He said the government’s tax structure seemed more than a little odd.

“That was the question when I first came here,” he said.

“What are we, Augusta or Richmond County?”

That disparity is built into the consolidated government’s charter – two overlapping tax districts in which property owners pay for government services in two distinct and, at times, unequal ways.

“You are providing the same services and charging people different rates,” said Commissioner Jerry Brigham, acknowledging that Augusta’s property tax system needs to be fixed.

Brigham, whose involvement with local government predates consolidation in 1996, said he is one of the few commissioners to have studied the problem in depth. A solution, however, is not something he or anyone else in city government is prepared to offer.

“You’ve got to do something about it, but how do you do it?” said Brigham, noting that any solution is sure to anger a lot of taxpayers. “It is going to turn off everybody.”

The problems with Augusta’s property tax system are a legacy of the deal hammered out in 1995 to merge the Augusta city government with that of Richmond County. The legislation that created Augusta-Richmond County took the existing tax districts from the two entities and pasted them together.

City dwellers, who paid for services such as trash pickup, streetlights and better fire protection than the county, would continue paying city taxes – essentially an additional millage rate applied to an area that covered the old city limits. This was called the Urban Services District.

County dwellers would continue paying their current property tax rate and pay a separate rate for fire protection. Those who had street lights would pay a user fee based on how much of their property fronted the street. This made up the Suburban Services District.

Property owners in the cities of Hephzibah and Blythe had separate districts as well.

The immediate effect was that taxpayers would not notice any significant changes on their bills. That was fine for 1996, but the patched-together tax system did not take into account how the city would grow and change over the years, said Donna Williams, Augusta’s finance director.

“It was passed in Novem­ber and was effective 60 days later,” Williams said of the consolidation bill. “The proper way to handle those issues would have been for each question to be answered before it was passed, to say this is what is going to happen, but that isn’t the way it was done.”

How it began

According to the consolidated government’s charter, the Urban Services District was created to pay for government services “not furnished” in the suburban areas. The taxes levied were to be used only for those services, not for other things. The charter also provides for the expansion of the urban district as these services are extended to other property owners outside the old city limits. The charter also allows commissioners to create new tax districts to pay for services as they are created or extended.

That is not what happened, however, when in 2001 commissioners decided to extend trash service to suburban areas.

Instead of making the urban district larger, or creating a new tax district, commissioners chose to charge a solid waste user fee for property owners in the suburban areas. The fee meant that property owners in the suburban areas would pay a flat fee for trash pickup while their counterparts in the city would pay a millage rate for the service, which was connected to the value of their homes. The effect was that some property owners in the city continued to pay less than suburban property owners, while others paid much more.

“There is a big disparity in the way people in the county and the way people in the city are paying not much at all or way too much for garbage (service),” said Com­missioner Joe Bowles.

Some property owners pay as little as $107 a year – the partial fee applied to Urban Services District properties for trash service – because their property value is very low. In fact, urban homeowners with standard exemptions whose properties are valued at less than about $317,000 pay less in trash taxes and fees than those in the suburbs.

Those with more valuable property pay more. In 2011, a homeowner with a house valued at $500,000 paid about $120 more per year for trash service than a homeowner with a similarly priced house in the suburbs.

Bowles said that in his opinion the problem leaves Augusta open for a lawsuit, which he thinks might be the only thing to fix it. He has already consulted lawyers about filing a suit himself.

“I’ve talked to several,” he said. “I was told, as an elected official, that I will not be able to sue myself.”

Bowles said if the issue isn’t resolved before he leaves office in January, he intends to file a lawsuit against the city government right away to force the commission to deal with it.

“We are a consolidated government, and we need to treat everybody accordingly,” he said.

More problems

Garbage fees, however, are not the only problem with the Urban Services District. On each property tax bill, taxpayers see a “sales tax credit” applied to their millage rate. Since 1976, money from the local option sales tax has been used to roll back the millage rate, effectively reducing tax bills. Because those who own property in the Urban Services District pay for fire protection, trash and street lights through the millage rate, they receive a sales tax credit for those services, Brigham said.

“County property owners don’t get that,” he said.

Because trash service and street lights are user fees, and the fire tax is a separate millage rate, the sales tax credit applied to suburban tax bills doesn’t affect those charges, he said.

But that’s not all.

By law, tax revenues from the Urban Services District are supposed to be applied to services not offered in the suburban areas. That’s not exactly happening.

Although funds are being used for trash service, fire protection and street lights, at least $4 million each year is being spent in other places.

Urban Services money funds Housing and Neigh­borhood Development, the Downtown Development Authority and public transit – all services associated with the old city area, but none that are reserved “only” for urban taxpayers.

Then there is the $3 mil­lion that goes to the Rich­mond County Sheriff’s Office. Law enforcement is provided countywide, so that part of the budget appears to be contrary to the city charter.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength said his officers might answer more calls in the downtown area but that his officers provide no services in the city that they do not offer in the suburbs.

“Everybody should get equal police protection, and that is what we strive to do,” he said.

Strength said he wasn’t aware that city residents paid more for law enforcement, and even if he was, it would not be a factor in how his officers do their jobs.

“We place our personnel based on criminal activity,” he said. “There are areas in west Augusta that we would like to have more folks working.”

No easy fix

Unraveling these issues and repairing Augusta’s property-tax system will be no easy job, Russell said.

This city has asked consultants to look at the issue in the past, including one from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute, without much luck. Recently, Williams said she asked financial consultant Dianne McNabb to take on the issue, but no work had been done yet.

“How do we get out of this?” Russell asked. “It might take a judge telling us what to do.”

Solutions are sure to rouse the ire of some taxpayers in the suburban and urban areas. Resolving the trash service fee is intertwined with all the other problems, but everyone agrees it is where things need to start.

Brigham said he expects state legislation to force the government to act eventually. A 2011 House bill that would prohibit governments from putting “non-tax” fees on property tax bills is still lingering, he said.

“Eventually that is going to pass, maybe this year,” he said.

Such a law would force Augusta to fix the trash fees, but in the process it could make commissioners revise the entire tax structure.

If officials decide to take trash service off the tax bills, then the problem becomes how to bill for it and who will be in charge of it. Making everyone pay a fee for trash service will create sticker shock in some of the poorest neighborhoods, where those who own property pay only part of what it costs to provide the service.

If officials decide to extend the urban district and create a new tax district to pay for trash, some county residents and business owners will end up paying higher taxes, officials said. Whatever the solution, it needs to be “revenue-neutral,” said Williams.

“You’ve got a revenue level that you need to have to continue to operate,” she said. “The methodology that I have now, although patched, produces that amount of revenue.”

Russell said the issue has lingered too long. This elephant needs to be shown the door.

“I think we are at a point where that conversation must happen,” he said. “Leadership has to look at the entire city and realize that there will be some winners and some losers.”

AUGUSTA’S TAX SYSTEM

Augusta has one consolidated government, but it has two systems for funding its services, depending on where you own property. The Richmond County Tax Commissioner’s Office sent out brochures last week breaking down the various millage rates in Augusta’s tax districts.

There are six tax districts in Richmond County. Two are for the cities of Hephzibah and Blythe. Two are special Business Improvement Districts in Augusta’s downtown area. The two remaining tax districts are for Augusta residents.

The Urban Services District refers to the area within the former Augusta city limits. The Suburban Services District refers to the area outside the old city limits.

Each district has a different set of millage rates and fees that determine the total tax bill for an individual property.

WHAT PEOPLE ARE PAYING

ALL PROPERTY OWNERS

• State tax. A small portion of property tax which goes to the state.

• School tax, which supports the county school system (property owners 65 and older are eligible for an exemption).

• County tax, which supports the city’s general fund.

• Capital outlay tax, which is used to purchase equipment and other non-reoccurring expenses

URBAN DISTRICT PROPERTY OWNERS

• Urban tax, which is intended for better fire protection, street lights, trash service and other things in the old city area

• Solid waste fee. The flat $107 fee pays for a portion of city trash service.

SUBURBAN DISTRICT PROPERTY OWNERS

• Fire protection tax, which funds the Augusta Fire Department

• Solid waste fee. A flat $302 fee is charged to property owners with city trash service.

• Street lights fee, which is based on the amount of street frontage for a given property.

Sample tax bills

SUBURBAN TAX DISTRICT: SAMPLE BILL ON $150,000 PROPERTY

EntityAdjusted fair-market valueNet assessmentExemptionsTaxable ValueMillage rateGross taxCreditNet Tax
School maint. & operation$150,000$60,000$5,000$55,00019.11$1,051.050$1,051.05
Street light charge$150,0000000$450$45
Solid waste collection$150,0000000$3020$302
Fire protection-county$150,000$60,000$5,000$55,0001.602$88.110$88.11
County sales tax credit$150,000$60,000$5,000$55,000-6.0110-$330.6050
County maint & operation$150,000$60,000$5,000$55,00014.086$774.730$444.125
County capital outlay$150,000$60,000$5,000$55,0000.784$43.120$43.12
State tax$150,000$60,000$2,000$580000.25$14.50$14.5
Totals----29.821$2,318.51$-330.605$1,987.91

URBAN TAX DISTRICT: SAMPLE BILL ON $150,000 PROPERTY

EntityAdjusted fair-market valueNet assessmentExemptionsTaxable ValueMillage rateGross taxCreditNet Tax
Urban sales tax credit$150,000$60,000$5,000$55,000-9.7690-$537.2950
Urban maint. & operation$150,000$60,000$5,000$55,00017.771$977.4050$440.11
School maint. & operation$150,000$60,000$5,000$5500019.11$1,051.050$1,051.05
Solid waste collection00000$1070107
County sales tax credit$150,000$60,000$5,000$55,000-6.0110-$330.6050
County maint & operation$150,000$60,000$5,000$55,00014.086$774.730$444.125
County capital outlay$150,000$60,000$5,000$55,0000.784$43.120$43.12
State tax$150,000$60,000$2,000$58,0000.25$14.50$14.5
Totals -----36.221$2,967.805-$867.9$2,099.91

Comments (29)

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bgthompson4
23
Points
bgthompson4 09/15/12 - 09:16 pm
6
0

Our Property Taxes

We purchased our now 60 year old small home in 2007. The taxes on our home were $400 +, now, five years later they are over $900. We haven't done anything new to this home, but up go the taxes.
Go figure!

Fools_and_sages
360
Points
Fools_and_sages 09/15/12 - 10:01 pm
5
1

Clarification for newcomers?

Unpublished

I really dislike it when Chronicle articles are written for people who have lived in Augusta-Richmond County their entire lives. for those of us who moved here after the county-city merger, we have no idea what is meant by the "areas inside the old city limits" and the "areas outside the old city limits." Calling them urban and suburban areas also doesn't give anybody who moved here after the late 1990s a clue about the sections of Augusta and Richmond County the article refers to either. Maybe a couple maps would have been nice.

In every other city I've ever lived in, if a tax disparity exists, all it takes is action by the city council to change it. Relying on a lawsuit to change it amounts to passing the buck for not doing one's job. But I also think that's part of Augusta's problem in general-- government leaders rarely do what needs to be done of their own accord because they're too worried about staying in office. Instead of getting blood on their hands and doing things that might be poorly received but are entirely necessary, our city/county government expects the private sector to do it for them and foot the bill for it, too. Do your jobs and maybe fire stations wouldn't fall down when the door of a truck clips the bay door. Do your jobs and maybe the schools wouldn't have to keep cutting days and laying off teachers. Do your jobs and maybe sections of the city wouldn't have feces floating in the streets after a hard rain and people flooded out of their houses. Providing basic services like education, working sewers and storm drains, police for events, and safe public buildings is the local government's job. If they can't do it because tax collections are low because they need to adjust tax rates, then do your jobs adjust the darn tax rates!

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 09/15/12 - 11:46 pm
6
1

TEA

Unpublished

Either way, the taxes are way too much and why do the taxes go UP every year when the property values have consistently gone DOWN.

dichotomy
26639
Points
dichotomy 09/16/12 - 12:13 am
9
0

Don't you love it when your

Don't you love it when your politicians tell you "we know we have a serious, unfair, probably illegal tax problem but we are just too stupid and/or gutless to fix it". "Guess we will wait 'til somebody sues us and let the judge figure it out."

Do nothing gutless cowards of questionable mentality.

Aren't you glad they aren't running anything important? They are just there to dole out money to Paul & associates and ANIC. They can't handle anything else. We did you expect from our crew of clowns?

corgimom
19235
Points
corgimom 09/16/12 - 05:31 am
6
0

The current tax system is

The current tax system is unConstitutional. Yes, it'll take a lawsuit, because the landlords of the old city properties will fight it otherwise.

Commissioner Bowles, yes, do the right thing and file the lawsuit!

Justin4466
43
Points
Justin4466 09/16/12 - 07:35 am
5
0

Another disparity study gone

Another disparity study gone to waste? There is only a couple of years before the last one becomes obsolete.

seenitB4
72620
Points
seenitB4 09/16/12 - 07:44 am
4
2

Please give this article ATTENTION---VERY IMPORTANT!

Yes --yes yes...THEY know there is a problem----the very reason A good lawyer as Sheriff will make a difference....money disparity is well known to South Augusta & has been hitting them in the face FOR YEARS!
If you live in the outskirts YOU are the elephant in the room....

FILE a dang lawsuit---at least "some" are doing something!

seenitB4
72620
Points
seenitB4 09/16/12 - 07:45 am
2
2

Rebel

Where are you?????

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 09/16/12 - 11:15 am
5
0

Yes, I love it

Just like I loved it when they put that trash can in our drive way without letting us vote whether we wanted to go with them or not. Just like we have to pay for two street lights because they shine in our yard, just like we like paying for school taxes that are not enough but they are over half of our taxes, when they start talking about stormwater drain taxes and we have a ditch that they won't keep cut or clean, when the school board keeps talking about they don't have enough money and want people to pay taxes to the day they die....

And then I read something like this. They are worried about the poor downtown..what about the poor out here they are killing with their taxes to help them downtown?

Steve Crawford
80
Points
Steve Crawford 09/16/12 - 08:49 am
8
0

Justn4466

This has nothing to do with a disparity study. That hasn't been done on this problem. There are a few people in local government who undestand how this tax system is constructed, but not many. This article really just touches on the problem. I'm not skilled enough to explain it in less that 5,000 words, but maybe this will begin some conversation on the subject.

seenitB4
72620
Points
seenitB4 09/16/12 - 09:21 am
3
2

Thank you Steve

At least YOU try.:)

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 09/16/12 - 09:42 am
2
2

LOL, fools and sages. You

Unpublished

LOL, fools and sages. You must be new to Augusta and its government.

soapy_725
43306
Points
soapy_725 09/16/12 - 10:13 am
0
0

Distrustia Governmentitis

Unpublished

A mental disease first identified in the Soviet Union. The symptoms were quite visible. Citizens speaking out about injustice, inequities in treatment, societal direction and taxation. The treatment was permanent removal from society and a state hospital room.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/16/12 - 10:40 am
3
0

The Solution really is,

Sue ourselves in to doing the right thing.

"Bowles said that in his opinion the problem leaves Augusta open for a lawsuit, which he thinks might be the only thing to fix it. He has already consulted lawyers about filing a suit himself." <.cite>

In all fairness to Mr. Bowles he is correct.
The courts many times work a lot faster and can push the Ga. Houses to act quickly.

BUT I would rather have a county payrolled and employed lawyer submit a lawsuit and save the County Big $$$$ that would be otherwise collected by any political friend who happens to be the next litigation attorney in line. With as many lawsuits as ARC fights every year, surely we must have a good lawyer on the payroll by now?

I also like the pending 2011 house bill doing away for privately provided services from being added to property taxes. Allowing the County to hire private firms and charge property owners service fees smacks of Socialism where the government controls the market system. However, having seen these types of "pending" bills before it is currently nothing more than a thinly veiled hint to certain services companies there is a need of more campaign $$$ around election year.

As a parting note: "By law, tax revenues from the Urban Services District are supposed to be applied to services not offered in the suburban areas. That’s not exactly happening.

I for one, am glad it is out in the open and in print.
The South Side taxpayers have for years felt it was no secret the City is sucking the live out of the county areas to keep Downtown moving closer to Columbia Co.

soapy_725
43306
Points
soapy_725 09/16/12 - 10:25 am
0
0

What a mess???

Unpublished

But LOVE conquers all. After the election, this perception of ignorance, not proven in a court of law, on the part of government will all go away like the "railroads tracks".

River City will have a white mayor, a black sheriff, a white city manager, a black fire chief, a white assistant sheriff, a black RCBOE president, a white entertainment coordinator. And the world be at peace again.

The staff at AC will find other pleasant loving stories to "woo us" to take pen in hand, as it were.

Where is Charles Walker when we need him to bring us "governmental change" we can believe in?

Much like the weather, everyone talks weather, but nothing can be done about it. Channel Six will give you a mug or an umbrella. Or you can leave the affected area. Evacuate the danger zones.

gargoyle
10171
Points
gargoyle 09/16/12 - 10:40 am
5
0

Shotgun wedding

Consolidation, the forced wedding between County and City has taken away the checks and balances needed for good government. The time may have come to talk about divorce.

dichotomy
26639
Points
dichotomy 09/16/12 - 10:56 am
6
0

Not only do they SPEND all of

Not only do they SPEND all of our money downtown to subsidize the "old city" residents, they admit that they are taking if from us via an illegal tax structure.

“How do we get out of this?” Russell asked. “It might take a judge telling us what to do.”

To translate what Russell meant:

"Yep, we know we are screwing you but half the commission represents those that are BEING SUBSIDIZED and the other half are controlled by the rich people who OWN ALL OF THE DOWNTOWN BUSINESS PROPERTIES. The suburban and rural taxpayers ain't got a prayer of getting THIS commission to fix the problem."

And it isn't just the "do nothing by design" commission. If you take into account the total picture of suspect suburban and rural property valuations by the TAX Appraiser and the TAX Commissioner's Office and the totally unjustified rezoning and raising of taxes on 7000 acres of vacant land in South Richmond County by the "in on the conspiracy to raise revenue" Planning and Zoning office, well......the rural and suburban residents of Richmond COUNTY don't have a chance against this conspiracy.

Williams said "You’ve got a revenue level that you need to have to continue to operate". What she didn't say is that YOU, the rural and suburban taxpayers have, by design, been designated as the people responsible to maintain that revenue level. If you don't believe me, look at your tax statement arriving as we speak. Your Fire Department Taxes and your Garbage Fees are UP and THEIR's ARE NOT. YOU are subsidizing THEIR fire protection and THEIR garbage collection while they are CUTTING YOUR garbage service in HALF. And I'm quite sure rural areas do not have the same level of fire protection and EMS service as the urban areas.

I guess the bottom line is THEY KNOW THEY ARE DOING IT TO US, and WE KNOW THEY ARE DOING IT TO US. They aren't doing anything to fix it and WE AREN'T DOING ANYTHING TO GET IT FIXED. I am living in taxpayer hell. WHERE IS YOUR BACKBONE RICHMOND COUNTY? Did you give that up during consolidation too?

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 09/16/12 - 11:27 am
2
0

Tax Statement

We got ours Saturday. What happens if we don't pay it? It doesn't look like it has hurt the ANIC. I remember the depot downtown, they had not paid theirs in years, then they skipped town.

What would they do if we all did not pay ours here in so called South Augusta? Is anything done to people that don't pay their taxes other than once a year or so some of them are named in the paper..whoopee do.

I wish I could afford a lawyer, I would sue them. I wish all the folks out there that can afford one would call a lawyer Monday.

That also reminds me, I never heard back from Guilifoyle. I sent him an email since I had a lot of questions and didn't want to forget anything. Never did hear back from him. Guess I will have to add this to the list too..I wish I had left here when other folks did. I really am beginning to hate Richmond County. I never did before.

soapy_725
43306
Points
soapy_725 09/16/12 - 11:35 am
0
0

Did this story originally have depravity

Unpublished

exists in Augusta? This instant rewriting of history is not good for seniors.

soapy_725
43306
Points
soapy_725 09/16/12 - 11:36 am
0
0

There are more tax payers than tax collectors.

Unpublished

There are many more tax payers that jail cells for first time offenders. Would a slap on the wrist be worth justice? The native Americans of the Rock Hill area of SC flooded the court system with lawsuits, effectively shut down the court system and eventually won their rights.

soapy_725
43306
Points
soapy_725 09/16/12 - 11:37 am
0
0

As Bill Cosby said,

Unpublished

I brought you into this world, I can take you out. Let the adults stand up and take action.

Fools_and_sages
360
Points
Fools_and_sages 09/16/12 - 01:28 pm
3
0

I'm not a lifelong resident

Unpublished

I was not born and raised in Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia, or the deep south. I've been here less than a decade-- but long enough to be able to say I'm tired of the status quo that exists because so many city/county commissioners are reluctant to take real actions to correct the fiscal issues that do not involve privatizing everything. I just think it's ridiculous that our city/county commissioners know there is a problem and they don't do anything about it when they know it's their job! Part of the solution to making government work correctly is taking the people out of government who refuse to fix the issues they can easily identify and can easily solve. This tax disparity issue is known and, apparently, it's been known for nearly 20 years. The members of the city/county commission have the power to change it and avoid legal expenses! I have never seen any city government offer to spend money they don't have on a court case to fix something they could fix themselves for free! It's absolutely ludicrous. Vote these jokers out and put in people who will roll up their sleeves and get some dirt on their hands to fix the fiscal mess in Augusta-Richmond County so that our roads, sewers, public buildings and spaces, city services, and the public school system might actually improve instead of continuing this slow atrophying decline. This ludicrousness may be the "way things have always been"-- but it doesn't have to be this way. The People can choose more effective commissioners-- it's called the right to vote. However, voting only works to change things if you stop putting the same jokers in office.

Fiat_Lux
13863
Points
Fiat_Lux 09/16/12 - 02:14 pm
2
2

I don't remember the last fire than burned down most of Augusta,

but I've seen plenty of pictures from my great-grandparents' photo album. The bottom line on all this is that most of old Augusta would fall apart or be destroyed without the tax support of the Hill, South Augusta and West Augusta, and then anarchy really would reign, at least in old Augusta. The creep of crime we are experiencing in once safe and peaceful areas of the county would turn into a flood.

It's not a lot different than choosing to send our troops to fight in Afghanistan instead of waiting to until those who would destroy us and our way of life are at our own front door.

Little Lamb
40136
Points
Little Lamb 09/16/12 - 02:39 pm
1
0

What, Russell work?

Steve Crawford wrote:

Unraveling these issues and repairing Augusta’s property-tax system will be no easy job, City Administrator Fred Russell said. This city has asked consultants to look at the issue in the past, including one from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute, without much luck.

Expecting Fred (What, me worry?) Russell to spend any of his precious time or to order some of his employees to come up with a solution is too much to ask of Russell. He said it wouldn't be easy, and all he will do are easy jobs.

itsanotherday1
34625
Points
itsanotherday1 09/16/12 - 02:50 pm
2
0

Why is the issue that

Why is the issue that complicated? Everyone in ColCo pays their own garbage fees, including incorporated Grovetown and Harlem. Get the city/county out of the garbage business so people can choose what level, if any, garbage service they need and let them pay for it. Put a fire tax into the property tax calculation and everyone pays the same rate.

Why the heck everything has to be so complicated, I'll never understand.

gargoyle
10171
Points
gargoyle 09/16/12 - 02:51 pm
3
0

Tulliie and Fools and sages,

Tulliie and Fools and sages, My daughter just moved from Travis Rd. to Carolina and my son headed to Mcduffie. My daughter didn't want to raise two boys in the dysfunction that South Augusta has become. My son didn't want to buy property in Augusta from day one. Last weekend my wife and I were out in Edgefield and the conversation turned to why don't we just move there? The only reason we could come up with why we shouldn't was we were close to work as the only advantage. The convenience is wearing thin as retirement approaches. I have no faith in leadership or the vision they espouse after looking into whom they are beholding to. Many are being serviced so a few can be served; I love the area but hate the politics. Someone else posted that they didn't understand why riots weren't happening in the streets of South Augusta. I wonder too. The downtown cabal has insulated themselves from the concerns of the taxpayers of the rest of Richmond County by limiting representation and adding levels of government self serving flunkeys. It’s probably time for me to head to the river before I tell ya how I really feel

dichotomy
26639
Points
dichotomy 09/16/12 - 03:02 pm
2
0

Fools_and_sages.......you

Fools_and_sages.......you don't understand. There are two factions that control the commission and horse trade YOUR money. Neither of them represent suburban and rural RC. Even if the commissioners WE elect try to represent us, and that is seldom, the commissioners who represent the ones we subsidize, in alliance with the commissioners who are controlled by the downtown money men, way outnumber our 1, sometimes 2 votes. We haven't had a prayer of being represented since Consolidation. When the money men start pulling their commissioner's puppet strings and the "old city" commissioners start singing "what ya got to trade", it's all over with for the rural and suburban folks, especially the SOUTH ENDERS. We are blood donors at a vampire convention. It's works exactly like Charles Walker knew it would work. He knew the greed of the downtown money men and he instructed the majority black districts on how to play "what's in it for the big dog". The rural and suburban residents only consideration in Consolidation was as a revenue source.

And Fiat_Lux....."The creep of crime we are experiencing in once safe and peaceful areas of the county would turn into a flood."

I hate to tell you this, but rural an suburban residents paying blackmail hasn't helped for the last 17 years. In case you haven't noticed, the dam has broken. Instead of a flood, the "city" is charging us money to ship them out here on Section 8. Same results but more expensive.

itsanotherday1
34625
Points
itsanotherday1 09/16/12 - 03:13 pm
1
0

Dichotomy, maybe you and

Dichotomy, maybe you and others could initiate a class action against them. Clearly, they already admit they are screwing y'all.

rebellious
18707
Points
rebellious 09/16/12 - 04:46 pm
3
0

Seenit

I have been aware of this issue for some time and agree, our commissioners have weak spined away from it. The truth is any move to level the tax structure would be fought tooth and nail by those whose constituents benefit from the current setup and lobbied lacklusterly by those whose constutuents would benefit from a fairer collection system. Those who have lived here long enough recognize that the entire reason for consolidation was to rescue the old city from the brink of bankruptcy after a mayor raided the water system and every other fund available to finance the Riverwalk. Hows that working today?

I marvel at the political slogan of "One Augusta". The better translation is "One Downtown" and the rest of Augusta funding that loss leader. I still believe South Augusta could and should be promoted and developed as a primarily residential section for Augustans to enjoy spacious, country living and have a short, quick commute to work. I suspect, over the years, those who would benefit from the development of Columbia County had the same dream, just for Evans instead of the Southern region of the county. And so we go, building thoroughfares to facilitate the quick ingress and egress for Evans, and now Grovetown. We recruit businesses and manufacturing so we can create jobs for Col Cty residents. We redo, revitalize, and build new recreational and fine arts venues for them to enjoy. Augusta continues to see herself as the handmaid servant to what we mysteriously envision as a superior class of people, Columbia Countians.
Now understand I have nothing against people who live in Columbia County. Who can blame them for being willing recipients to the gratuitous offerings of their neighbor. I do think the angle of their rhinareum and the indication their feces emit no odor is annoying. Especially when I knew many who lived on the Southside of Augusta and ran barefoot with sweatrings around their necks.

Augusta longs for leadership. Leaders in Law Enforcement, Leaders in elected positions. Leaders in County Government paid positions. People who have vision for our county and the intelligence to plan the work and work the plan.

I just don't know where they are, or if they proffer for service will the electorate see through the political mumbo-jumbo of Love, Peace, Hope and Change.

There SeenitB4. Howz that for a downer?

dichotomy
26639
Points
dichotomy 09/16/12 - 05:28 pm
1
0

Sue Them

"Dichotomy, maybe you and others could initiate a class action against them"

I'm a willing participant and a willing financial contributor. But believe me, there are smarter, more eloquent, and more knowledgeable people on here to organize such an effort. I know nothing about lawyers and I do not trust any local lawyers. There is too much legal incest in Augusta with the lawyers, judges, and the ruling cabal. Found that out the hard way when trying to sue a former state senator doing business under his wifes name while he ran the committee that oversaw the rules and regulations and inspections for her(his) business. Anyone know of an out of town attorney that has successfully sued a municipality over similar issues? Or maybe one who has successfully fought to split off from a consolidated government and form their own municipality because of a history of unequal treatment and taxation?

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