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Commissioners discuss goals at retreat

Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013 9:27 PM
Last updated Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 2:06 AM
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The Augusta commission, including its four new members, talked about their goals in a four-hour retreat Thursday.

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Commissioners Corey Johnson (left) and Mary Davis attend a retreat Thursday with fellow commission members to get up to speed on important issues.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Commissioners Corey Johnson (left) and Mary Davis attend a retreat Thursday with fellow commission members to get up to speed on important issues.

Held in a meeting room at the downtown main library, the session included a presentation from each commissioner.

“It was interesting that all of us seemed like we were on the same page,” Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson said when the meeting was over.

Grouped by topic, commissioners’ goals targeted “personnel” and “economic development” most often.

Included under economic development was new District 3 Commissioner Mary Davis’ goal of collaborating with Georgia Regents University officials to ensure the merger of Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities is beneficial to Augusta in the long-term.

New District 7 Com­mis­sioner Donnie Smith included working with nonprofits to reduce poverty, partnering with area governments to develop “a regional approach” to economic development and developing an inland port at the city’s south Augusta industrial park.

Commissioner Bill Lockett raised a familiar issue of “distrust” among com­mis­sion members and the mayor and repeated a call not to be ignored.

“For the mayor to have a great legacy, we’re going to have to start counting to 10 and quit stopping at 6,” said Lockett, of the minimum of six votes required to pass a measure.

“The rules of the game is what they are,” said Commissioner Alvin Mason. “If you want it differently, perhaps you change the rules of the game.”

New Super District 9 Com­missioner Marion Williams, who served previously as District 2 commissioner, listed two goals: Addressing abandoned properties and Adminstrator Fred Russell’s job. The group did not discuss Russell at the retreat, although several commission members included a goal of improving the city’s handling of blighted properties.

New District 1 Com­mis­sion­er Bill Fennoy suggested the group tour blighted areas in Districts 1 and 2, in the day and night.

“There are people in Augusta who have that type of element to deal with daily,” he said.

Davis, Smith and Commissioner Alvin Mason raised the need to reform the city’s two-tiered tax code, which bills residents at different rates depending on where they live. Mason said he’ll revive a committee formed last year to address the issue.

Johnson also raised the issue of the city’s vacant human resources director and recreation, parks and facilities director positions. The city hasn’t had a permanent HR director since late 2011 and has been without a recreation director since April.

At the end of the retreat, the body heard from the city’s new sheriff and solicitor. Sheriff Richard Roundtree told the commission of his plans for the department and invited each commission member to nominate a resident from his or her district to serve on a citizen panel.

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countyman 01/04/13 - 01:23 am
The feeling of being

The feeling of being optimistic got even better after hearing the ideas from Donnie Smith. The plans for a inland port could have been presented before Plant Vogtle started construction, but it's still a good idea.

Please let's fix the bus system(new routes; additional buses; stop at 1am-2am), add sidewalks/bike lanes to the major roads, demolish Regency Mall(regional sports complex), create a beach/extend the riverwalk in East Augusta, and build a large park/water falls/bridges somewhere in the CBD by 2015.

soapy_725 01/04/13 - 09:52 am
Off site retreats are always fun (-:

Then you have to return to the real world where some people do nothing productive and others bear the load. To bad the taxpayers are not given a day of greet and meet at the expense of the ARC government. Oh, wait, the taxpayers would be entertaining themselves. The mayor and commissioners could get along just peachy if were not engaged in county management.

Riverman1 01/04/13 - 11:52 am
I don't know about the inland

I don't know about the inland port idea. It adds another procedure to the shipping process. The inland port idea is simply shipping via rail from Savannah (and possibly other ports) to Augusta and then placing the freight on trucks here. The cargo could just as easily be placed on trucks in Savannah at the port.

Brad Owens
Brad Owens 01/04/13 - 12:38 pm
Budget? Taxes? Deficits?

NO talk of budget, taxes or the deficit?

OpenCurtain 01/04/13 - 02:13 pm
Brad - word has it

There are going to some serious budget changes proposed in the coming weeks.

Some include Contract reviews of older good old boy deals still in operation.

Sweet son
Sweet son 01/04/13 - 03:04 pm
Look Out Fred!

Marion has shown his fangs! Or maybe I am wrong and Marion wants to give you a raise!

catawba7 01/04/13 - 07:19 pm
Crooks cannot fix something illegal

(No support for any new project or initiative until they FIX THE ILLEGAL TAX SYSTEM and start spreading the spending and services around to all districts equally.)

CROOKS cannot fix an illegal system. Ask South Augusta residents...who have been pilfered to death.

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