Augusta-area lawmakers hear road construction plans

Walter Jones/ Morris News Service
State Reps. Ben Harbin, (left) of Columbia County, and Wayne Howard, of Richmond County, make points during Tuesday's delegation meeting.
Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 3:12 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 1:13 AM
  • Follow Government

ATLANTA — State transportation officials pledged cooperation and coordination to local legislators Tuesday as the Augusta region begins road projects financed by a new sales tax.

Back | Next
State Reps. Gloria Frazier (from left), D-Hephzibah; Ben Harbin, R-Evans; and Wayne Howard, D-Augusta, attended Tuesday's meeting of officials from Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties.  WALTER C. JONES/MORRIS NEWS SERVICE
WALTER C. JONES/MORRIS NEWS SERVICE
State Reps. Gloria Frazier (from left), D-Hephzibah; Ben Harbin, R-Evans; and Wayne Howard, D-Augusta, attended Tuesday's meeting of officials from Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties.

Additionally, officials from Georgia Regents University reported that the governor’s proposed budget includes funding for cancer research but not a planned satellite campus in Rome or equipment for the medical-commons building.

GRU and transportation representatives met with legislative delegations from Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties in a rare, joint meeting. The three counties are part of one of three regions in the state where voters agreed in July to raise the sales tax for transportation improvements.

“We’re ready to deliver,” Transportation Commissioner Keith Golden said. “… Our goal is to make every other region wish they had passed it.”

Retailers began collecting the tax Jan. 1, but the first revenue won’t be available until mid-March. A quarter of them will go directly to each local government in the region for transportation projects of their choosing, while the bulk of the money will go through the Depart­ment of Transportation, which is negotiating to hire an accounting firm to manage the cash flow for projects included in the list submitted to voters.

Rep. Gloria Frazier, D-
Heph­zibah, expressed concern that local businesses be included in the contracts. Golden said the first task of the accounting firm will be providing information to those companies on how they can bid for the work.

Georgia law prohibits the state from steering contracts to local businesses, he said.

“There is no home-field advantage,” he said.

If Augusta or other local governments oversee projects, however, they can apply their own contracting preferences, he said.

A senator from one of the regions where the sales tax failed announced Tuesday that he is sponsoring legislation to repeal a bonus awarded to regions that passed it. Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, argues it is unfair to make regions where it failed pay more for their share of transportation projects as a penalty.

CONSTRUCTION WAS ALSO on the agenda of GRU lobbyist Michael Shaffer, who filled in for the university’s ailing president, Dr. Ricardo Azziz. Gov. Nathan Deal’s recommended budget includes a second yearly installment of $5 million for cancer-related research and $45 million in bonds to build a cancer research building.

The budget does not include money for equipping the medical-commons building. Construction was speeded up, and now it could be completed before the next fiscal year ends and another appropriation can be made.

Deal also didn’t make arrangements to fund a satellite campus in Rome at about $1 million yearly. The medical community in the north Georgia city has been eager to begin offering instruction to medical students at its hospitals as is done already at satellite campuses in Savannah and Albany.

“Rome has been incredible,” Shaffer said.

Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans, said that GRU’s campuses in Augusta and Athens and the satellite campuses broaden the political support for the university which can be critical to getting funding in the Legislature.

“It helps Georgia Regents to have a presence all over the state,” he said.

Comments (10) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 01/29/13 - 03:41 pm
2
1
“We’re ready to deliver,”

“We’re ready to deliver,” said Transportation Commissioner Keith Golden. “… Our goal is to make every other region wish they had passed it.”

I find that a political statement....but if he means it and we are one of the few who passed it...whatcha got for us? What do you have for us that exceeds what we pay? That was the promise before the vote, wasn't it?

The truth is by making other regions wish they had passed it, you have to take from THEM. That may tick them off instead of making them wish they had passed it.

The reality is Georgia is a conservative state, against most taxes, and the only areas voting for this tax are Democratic voting districts. Something is wrong with the whole concept of conservative districts paying more to fund those Democratic voting districts for their roads. I bet this won't last long, but I hope we get our promised extra funding before everyone wakes up.

dichotomy
37615
Points
dichotomy 01/29/13 - 04:53 pm
0
0
If Senator Albers manages to

If Senator Albers manages to stir up enough votes from the 3/4 of the state that did not approve TSPLOST, and passes a bill that withholds the extra funding, does that nullify the program AND the extra sales tax? If I was from a district that voted against TSPLOST I would certainly support a bill to withhold the extra money, money out of my constituents pockets.

thauch12
7076
Points
thauch12 01/29/13 - 07:36 pm
1
1
Riverman, I agree with most

Riverman, I agree with most of your statement but the one fallacy in your line of reasoning is thinking that "the only areas voting for this tax are Democratic voting districts." Metro Atlanta (DeKalb, Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett Counties) overall voted Democrat and TSPLOST failed there...

Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 01/29/13 - 10:09 pm
0
0
thauch12

You are right, Atlanta went against it, too. The NAACP was against it there saying the plans for the money didn't help the inner city enough. What's funny about all this is TSPLOST was supposed to help Atlanta the most. They will come up with some way to screw the three districts that passed the measure out of the promises made.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 01/30/13 - 07:58 am
0
0
Georgia law prohibits the state

from steering contracts to local businesses, he said.

Which means WE pay the Tsplost, and at the State level they play politics for donations.

BTW: Remember the outright LIE that TSPLOST would help LOCALl businesses and employ LOCAL Labor?

2 Words "GULLIBLE FOOLS".

seenitB4
98503
Points
seenitB4 01/30/13 - 09:19 am
1
1
thauch12

Gwinnett is NOT a democratic county....it might get there one day but now most vote for Rep.

thauch12
7076
Points
thauch12 01/30/13 - 10:58 am
2
1
Cool seenit. But if you'll

Cool seenit. But if you'll read my comment again, you'll notice I was referring to Metro Atlanta OVERALL so I don't really see your point.

seenitB4
98503
Points
seenitB4 01/30/13 - 12:40 pm
1
1
^^^^

My point is .....

Metro Atlanta (DeKalb, Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett Counties) overall voted Democrat and TSPLOST failed ...I think I read Gwinnettt....are my eyes lying....

countyman
21682
Points
countyman 01/30/13 - 02:11 pm
2
1
Neither Cobb or Gwinnett

Neither Cobb or Gwinnett would be considered a democratic counties..

thauch12
7076
Points
thauch12 01/30/13 - 08:43 pm
1
1
Very good! Now step back and see the forest.

Once again, if you read what I wrote I said was speaking about the OVERALL REGION which is what is relevant in the discussion about TSPLOST because it was the regional votes that mattered.

Back to Top
loading...
Top headlines

Stormwater fee to fund Columbia County repairs

Columbia County is set to invest an additional $600,000 in its aging stormwater system next year, with the hope that more money and manpower will result in half as many repair orders and fewer ...
Search Augusta jobs