Government

More News | | | Editor

Downtown tax district could include cleanup service

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 8:27 PM
Last updated 8:39 PM
  • Follow Government

A cleanup service downtown could return under Sheriff Richard Roundtree’s proposed special tax district for that area, according to documents obtained by The Augusta Chronicle.

Roundtree’s recent proposal, to tax certain downtown property owners an additional 6 mills to fund added law enforcement, would generate enough extra revenue by its second year to “perform a cleaning service” if taxpayers want.

Using the same tax district boundaries as the defunct Clean Augusta Downtown Initiative, the proposal would generate approximately the same amount of revenue, $353,834, enough to fund the salaries of three deputies and three community safety officers dedicated to the district.

After the initial purchase of three $30,000 police cruisers, three $1,000 bicycles and $19,500 in equipment and “alternative,” “less-imposing” uniforms for the downtown officers, the program will have a surplus $120,000 in its second year, according to documents Roundtree has provided certain property owners.

With that surplus, to total roughly $480,000 over the special tax district’s initial five-year lifespan under Georgia law, the sheriff and a new “advisory board” established to guide the program could opt to hire a cleaning service, the sheriff said.

Roundtree did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday about the plan’s details, which many downtown property owners say they have yet to see.

“It seems like it’s CADI all over again,” said downtown property owner Robin Schweitzer, after learning details of Roundtree’s proposal from a reporter. “Now it’s backward. We’re going to do security, and we might sprinkle in a little cleaning.”

The CADI program was billed as additional security and cleaning services, but once implemented was primarily a cleaning service. Roundtree said his plan saves taxpayer dollars because no project manager will be needed to oversee personnel and the city won’t charge the sheriff’s office a 3 percent collection fee.

Also included in the sheriff’s plan is $20,000 from collections to fund special events “to draw consumers into the Central Business District,” according to plan documents.

Schweitzer said she and other downtown property owners she’d met with were becoming anxious because they’d received no information about the proposal besides what they read or saw in the news.

“I just hope that we’re able to voice our opinion in some fashion, and they don’t shut us out like they did with CADI,” she said.

To be implemented, the sheriff’s Continuously Patrolled District must receive supporting signatures from either 51 percent of property owners or the owners of 51 percent of the district’s assessed value. After that, the Augusta Commission must approve it.

While most property owners had yet to receive information about the sheriff’s proposal and doubted they’d support it, at least one up-and-coming downtown enterprise is willing to give the sheriff’s plan a try.

Darby Carpenter, the general manager at Farmhaus Burgers, the second Broad Street restaurant opened by chef Sean Wight, said his company has been impressed with Roundtree’s recent community policing efforts downtown and was willing to pay for more. Wight owns one of his restaurant buildings and is renovating apartments upstairs and adding a third restaurant, Craft and Vine, at street level.

“We started seeing the new officers, not only the police presence, but they’re very helpful to people that are patronizing Broad Street,” Carpenter said. “If that (the tax) is what it takes for people to feel safe downtown, I think it’s fine.”

Comments (12) 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.
GnipGnop
11527
Points
GnipGnop 07/30/13 - 08:42 pm
9
2
This is a double tax....

You already pay taxes for both of these services...this should be illegal!!

Graymare
2618
Points
Graymare 07/30/13 - 08:59 pm
6
1
I agree GnipGnop

Why don't the shop owners get together and hire their own clean up folks and why doesn't the PD just do it's job. Taxpayers pay for the PD already! Maybe the PD could use the "funeral" money for more downtown patrols.

seenitB4
81570
Points
seenitB4 07/31/13 - 06:52 am
2
4
Business downtown

If I owned a business in that area I would pay for extra police protection...just like I pay for extra police patrol in this sub div....it helps.

Bulldog
1296
Points
Bulldog 07/31/13 - 07:41 am
2
3
The elephant in the room

The elephant in the room is not being discussed. That elephant is the lack of adequate law enforcement. Who's fault is that? Well, I for one lay that one right in front of the County Commission! The sheriff is doing his job, but if we want to turn this county around, the County Commission is going to have to develop some gumption and fund a hell of a lot more budget for the RCSD. The deputies are grossly underpaid and readily available anti-crime technology is not being purchased. The SINGLE BIGGEST issue in Augusta Richmond County is CRIME and the PERCEPTION of CRIME. If we can put a real dent into that problem, we will be well on our way to turning ourselves around.

...point to ponder
714
Points
...point to ponder 07/31/13 - 08:18 am
5
0
Hold everything...

...the Mayor and the commission are quiet on this. They are allowing the Sheriff to overstep his boundaries taking on this mission to propse a security tax peppered with a dust mop!

Enough is enough....

Sheriff, do your job in the downtown district as you are already doing without making it sound and look like 'extortion'/ protection money.

Commission and Mayor.... Do your job--- provide any additional funding required to keep the downtown both safe and clean! * you obviously have the money given your spending habits elsewhere. The Commision builds a convention hall but forgets to police the area....

* the current administration is void of any leadership in this regard. May be they need to take tour.

resident
470
Points
resident 07/31/13 - 08:23 am
5
0
I am just thinking

Well I was just thinking that couldn't they have used some of that 26Milion they are spending on their Taj Mahal to fund this? Seems like priorities are a bit askew.

...point to ponder
714
Points
...point to ponder 07/31/13 - 08:43 am
4
0
Yes...... very well said

Yes...... very well said 'resident'...."Seems like priorities are a bit askew"

That is the bottom line.

thauch12
6138
Points
thauch12 07/31/13 - 09:07 am
7
0
Wait a minute...

This article makes it seem as if there will be a nearly half a million dollar slush fund as a result of this tax. This begs the question...why is the proposed new tax rate so high in the first place?

badmoon426
922
Points
badmoon426 07/31/13 - 09:38 am
5
0
Neither Fish Nor Fowl...

...is how I see it.

Why are is the government cutting corners on the police department? If the tax is specifically for added police protection then in the second year add more officers instead of street sweepers.

This proposal needs to directly address the issue of a perceived lack of police protection in the downtown area.

As for the CADI program it was discredited and defunded, it is absolutely asinine to try and resurrect this failed budgetary black pit.

badmoon426
922
Points
badmoon426 07/31/13 - 09:40 am
3
0
Maybe the Sheriff...

...should just stick to protecting the citizens of Augusta Richmond County and let someone else worry about keeping downtown clean.

augusta citizen
8646
Points
augusta citizen 07/31/13 - 07:46 pm
1
0
No new taxes

No new taxes, no new taxes, no new taxes........................!!!!

Little Lamb
43868
Points
Little Lamb 08/01/13 - 09:08 am
0
0
Fishy

From the story:

Roundtree’s recent proposal, to tax certain downtown property owners an additional 6 mills to fund added law enforcement, would generate enough extra revenue by its second year to “perform a cleaning service” if taxpayers want.

The sheriff is in charge of this tax. We don't need our sheriff to perform a cleaning service. If 6 mils will generate more money than the sheriff needs to police the CPD, just make the tax 4 mils or 5 mils, whatever the sheriff really needs. Sounds like ole Fred (What, me worry?) is piggybacking on the sheriff's back.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Man reports McCormick attack

A South Carolina man told police three men attempted to sexually assault him and then shot at him while he was bicycling in McCormick County late Saturday.
Search Augusta jobs