Augusta’s downtown Business Improvement District will likely end its five-year tenure as a funding source for the Clean Augusta Downtown Initiative after an Augusta Commission vote to renew it failed, 5-4.
The commission vetoed the district at its last meeting of the year Tuesday night despite Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Margaret Woodard’s presentation of about 114 signed petitions from property owners in support of the BID.
The move means no more work for the yellow-shirted CADIs and downtown property owners will likely see decreased maintenance, City Administrator Fred Russell said.
Established under state law, the BID allows property owners to voluntarily pay higher taxes for added services, as long as more than 50 percent of owners or the owners of more than 50 percent of the district’s assessed value agree. The commission must approve the BID management plan.
The BID took a hit last week when its largest property owner, Morris Communications Co. and three related entities, opted against supporting the renewal.
Still, Woodard and a committee campaigned through the weekend and arrived at a Tuesday public hearing on the BID with a stack of 114 signed petitions, four more than the 110 Woodard said the BID needed to pass.
A last-minute push saw children and spouses of CADIs, plus a handful of DDA members and others, arrive at the commission meeting wearing yellowT-shirts that said “I am 4 CADI.”
Some downtown property owners have been critical of the BID since its formation five years ago, but dissatisfaction has grown in recent months, with many complaining the CADIs weren’t as helpful as Woodard tirelessly insists. Others said the BID ought to pay for added security instead of what it funds now.
Speaking on the BID’s behalf at the hearing, optometrist Ben Casella said the CADIs were very helpful assisting his elderly patients but are not police with arrest powers.
Numerous others spoke for and against the BID on Tuesday both at the 3 p.m. public hearing and during Tuesday’s regular meeting, the final one of the year and the last for four outgoing commissioners. Commissioners Bill Lockett, Alvin Mason, Joe Jackson and Wayne Guilfoyle voted no on the BID, and a substitute motion to approve the BID with conditions also failed.