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Augusta Commission might return to convention center issue

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Augusta commissioners could again weigh in on the management agreements for the Augusta Convention Center during a meeting Thursday.

The 5 p.m. session, rescheduled from Tues­day because of elections, is the first opportunity commissioners have to vote on the management details since several attended a Friday closed-door meeting with attorneys.

The commission’s inability to finalize a management agreement with Augusta Riverfront LLC to operate the convention center, also known as the TEE Center, recently prompted the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police to cancel its four-day winter training conference, which was to be the venue’s first convention. Mayor Deke Copenhaver subsequently canceled a meeting on the agreement to avoid further publicity on the dispute.

The documents are attached to Thursday’s meeting agenda, but Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle and city Administrator Fred Russell said they didn’t know whether Augusta River­front had considered any of the proposed changes discussed Friday.

The firm, which has run the downtown Marriott and conference center for 23 years, shares management with Morris Comm­unications Co., the owner of The Augusta Chronicle.

The commission’s 2009 decision to build a convention center adjoining the Marriott and conference center and later to fast-track it and fund it using tax-exempt bonds made for a complex set of operating documents and several commissioners raised questions about the details.

Corey Johnson, who attended the Friday meeting and was not one of five who previously voted to approve the agreements, said he hoped proposed changes – including a shorter, five-year term and criteria for employee bonuses based on event bookings – could be incorporated.

“If not, we’re going to have to go in there and find somebody to manage it,” Johnson said.

Many of the issues commissioners raised were first identified by Lincolnton, Ga., resident Al Gray, who runs a construction cost-recovery business and attended the Friday meeting.

Commissioner Jerry Brig­ham, who previously voted in favor of the management contract, said the details need to be approved before four new commissioners take office in January.

“If it’s not decided by the end of December, it’s not going to be decided,” he said.

Thursday’s 5 p.m. commission meeting follows a 4 p.m. public hearing on the city’s 2013 budget.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Augusta Commission meeting; voting on management details for the Augusta Convention Center is on the agenda

WHEN: 5 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Commission Chamber, Municipal Building, 530 Greene St.

Comments (16) Add comment
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dichotomy
33059
Points
dichotomy 11/07/12 - 09:48 pm
4
0
The commissioners who want to

The commissioners who want to change this agreement need to use their recently acquired leverage. If Riverfront LLC will not negotiate you should threaten to put off the vote until after Marion Williams is sworn in. THAT ought to bring anyone who wants to see this thing opened to the negotiating table. The blackmail fees go up in January.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 11/08/12 - 12:01 am
2
0
On Thursday, we will see

On Thursday, we will see first-hand how much a vote goes for on the Augusta Commission.

Just a few years ago, it cost $50 million to buy the deciding vote to build the TEE Center.

What will it go for today?

Any guesses?

rebellious
20780
Points
rebellious 11/08/12 - 12:19 am
1
1
It's OK

if commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle has swung a deal for 50 million to be spent south of say Tobacco Road, and I would accept Meadowbrook/Rosier/Phinizy Road line. Heck I would buy into a Gordon Hwy line, but that money would be dumped into Hyde Park, which really isn't contaminated and is a boondogle for some new landowners.

seenitB4
87396
Points
seenitB4 11/08/12 - 04:47 am
1
2
Guess what...

Gwinnett may get a nice hotel (300 rooms) next to our convention center...but the Marriott will be paying for it....yea....

seenitB4
87396
Points
seenitB4 11/08/12 - 05:50 am
1
0
Some news

Gwinnett County is about to get a real economic boost if a developer's proposal to build a multi-million dollar hotel is approved by Gwinnett County's board of commissioners.

Nilhan Hospitality, located in the new city of Peachtree Corners, was one of four companies that submitted bids for a cenvention center hotel. On Wednesday the Gwinnett Convention & Visitors Bureau's board of directors selected the Peacthree Corners firm to build a $57 million Marriott Hotel which will connect to the Gwinnett Center.

"Nilham Hospitality were actually planning on building a Marriott Hotel nearby," said Lisa Anders, CCVB's executive director, "and had already been approved for a Marriott franchise."

Anders said Nilhan's proposal would be completely privately financed and require no bonds or county money. "The developer is ready and fully financed," said Anders. "It's a huge economic development for the county. It's amazing in today's economy to find a developer with private funding."

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/08/12 - 07:21 am
1
0
SeenitB4 -posts on how it should be done

In general terms the Gwinnett Deal mimics Augusta to a "T" (yes the PUN was intended). They have Marriott Hotel, and a new Convention Center

Let me repeat the best part again of SIB4 snipped.

"... completely privately financed and require no bonds or county money."

So Why Did It work There Privately?
Simply, the investors saw an opportunity that would make $$$.

So why did Augusta decide to do it differently?
Well, as we are seeing now with last minute release of better operational figures. Note that I did not say truthful or accurate figures.

Too much build-able Downtown land was purchased and owned by those involved in this scheme.

There was no opportunity and no profitable demand in Augusta for a private investor to do the same thing.

Too many of the Taxpayers are fully aware that the TEE Center Deal never should have happen the way it did.

It boils down to Yet Another Downtown Deal Gone Bad for the Taxpayers while the "Right" people cleanup.

It is a like we are watching a weird version of an Obama Transfer of Wealth.

We would have been completely hosed again, if it had not been for the efforts just 3 sensible commissioners. Sticking their necks out, to challenge the sweet status quo deals prone to failure that always focus on Downtown.

Remember these 3 commissioner come re-election.
They went to bat for the Taxpayers despite the powerful downtown click.

Ruckus
467
Points
Ruckus 11/08/12 - 06:56 am
0
0
Slow Paced Augusta

I would'nt be suprised if this place does'nt open up in 2014 as slow as the process and thought put into this. Alot of the issues should have been ironed out before scheduling any events.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/08/12 - 07:41 am
0
0
I agree with Ruckus, up to a point.

Wondering Out Loud,
Is there any serious INCREASED negative impact on the taxpayers working out a realistic deal?

I am all for the commissioners taking their time get a viable contract in place that protects the Taxpayers and limits the Taxpayers liability. In fact if River Front LLC and the River Front 5 want to wait until the new Commission is sworn in, in 2013, I am all for it.

Call me foolish but I thought we elected Commissioners to do what is best for the TAXPAYERS, not the contractors to the taxpayer?

Note I said best for the Taxpayers.

Wondering Out Loud agian,
If it doesn't open until 2014, will the Taxpayer actually save $990k to $1M a year in additional operational costs?

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/08/12 - 08:29 am
2
0
rebellious - What is the South Side anymore?

To many it use to be anything the South Side of Tubman home Rd, South of Gordon Hwy / and East of the US-1 corridor.

After the consolidation to save Augusta, many felt it moved to Lumpkin Rd. and East of US-1 corridor.

Now a days I'd bet you a small BBQ plate at Sconyer's on a Friday, that many feel it is Tobacco Rd. and East of Ft. Gordon Gate 5.

No matter what the borders, Augusta is best described as an ugly Virus spreading into the South Side. All the while feeding off the Host (The South Side) to feed its spread to stay alive.

The TEE - River Runt Convention Center being the latest infection that needs feeding.

Little Lamb
46068
Points
Little Lamb 11/08/12 - 08:51 am
1
0
New Commission

Voters just elected Marion Williams, Mary Davis, and Donnie Smith. They still have to elect a District 1 commissioner next month, and there's a good chance it won't be the incumbent. Don't you think it is a bad idea for this lame duck commission to vote on this very expensive deal against the Augusta taxpayers? I do. Put off the TEE Center deal until the new commission comes on board!

Little Lamb
46068
Points
Little Lamb 11/08/12 - 08:57 am
2
0
Polish

I walked by the TEE Center yesterday and I saw a worker polishing a handrail on the stairs. He was actually working diligently, buffing that rail with his rag in order to bring up a shine. I had to ask myself, “Why is it that important to polish a handrail November 7, when there are no conventions scheduled until next spring?”

Little Lamb
46068
Points
Little Lamb 11/08/12 - 09:05 am
1
0
Lame Duck

Here are words of a commissioner in the mold of Barak Obama, my way or highway:

Commissioner Jerry Brig­ham, who previously voted in favor of the management contract, said the details need to be approved before four new commissioners take office in January. “If it’s not decided by the end of December, it’s not going to be decided,” he said.

What kind of arrogance is this? Brigham pontificates that the commission that comes behind him will be incapable of making a decision. That is condescending and demeaning to the newly-elected commissioners.

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 11/08/12 - 09:05 am
1
0
There is power to make change
Unpublished

27,000 separate lawsuits by members of the Catawba Indians of York Co. SC brought the court system of three counties to a standstill. A plug in the sewer line from the courthouse was installed and the sh_ backed up. Figurative analogy.

Citizens can file suits for fraud and malfeasance in office. Naming individual officials and government entities. Just imagine what 40 thousand separate lawsuits would do in ARC. The courts are overwhelmed now. Maybe Freddie Sanders or Ken Nugent would like a shot at some major publicity.

National news reports Augusta GA , its mayor King Deke, county administrator, contractors, tax officials has been sued by its Taxpayer Association for fraud, conspiracy to defraud, mail fraud (tax statements). The power of the court of public opinion. The end of Deke's trip to Washington.

The Catawba's did not get everything they wanted. But they got the attention of county, state and federal government. They let the world know they had been robbed, were compensated for damages and had their reservation boundaries enlarged.

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 11/08/12 - 09:15 am
1
0
If this county government is not getting kickbacks
Unpublished

in major bucks, they are the most ignorant set of public officials in history. There are only two choices for this "circus de so macabre". A dozen leaders for diverse cultures who come together in a room and instantly agree to defraud the taxpayers of ARC. Not in the real world? So how many individual does it take to form a legal conspiracy? TWO. Augusta has known for 70 + years that governmental corruption is very profitable. Crime does pay. And pays more when you control the police, tax and court system.

There may be a third reason. Half to three quarters are incompetent, devoid of business or common sense. The remainder are criminals.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/08/12 - 09:36 am
0
0
Little Lamb

OH! it will get decide if it is still awaiting a vote in 2013.

I guessing Mr. Brigham understands the 2013 vote is not the vote he might get out of the 2012 group.

Little Lamb
46068
Points
Little Lamb 11/08/12 - 10:51 am
0
0
Polish, Again

I've been thinking about this management agreement. Paul Simon is pushing the commission for quick (my way or highway) approval of his deal with no changes. He has said in the past that he desires to hire and train workers to be ready for the first convention. That implies that he wants a permanent staff sitting around waiting for the next convention. Of course, all their salaries, benefits, Social Security/Medicare payments, uniforms, etc. will be billed to the Augusta Taxpayer because of the management agreements.

Will these workers be twiddling their thumbs or will they be polishing handrails between conventions?

The preferred way to handle this would be to hire temporary workers to clean and prepare the space before the convention starts, serve the conventiongoers during the convention, clean up after the convention, then go back to their temp agency in between conventions. They would not have to draw a salary all the time.

rebellious
20780
Points
rebellious 11/08/12 - 11:01 am
1
0
If

District 1 race goes the way I think it will (Fennoy), the commission will be back to a 5/5 ethnic makeup. So for 2 years, expect stagnation, blocking, absences, and otherwise a period of malaise especially considering the stance Mr. Williams takes. So I might agree with Mr. Brigham. If the deal paid the city of Augusta $900,000 per year to cover the losses, not sure you could get the new commission to a majority vote with that makeup.

rebellious
20780
Points
rebellious 11/08/12 - 11:03 am
1
0
Summit Up

Counting 2 days til the meeting of the "Mines".

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