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Augusta Commission committee votes to advance stormwater fee

Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 8:06 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013 1:38 AM
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The Augusta Commission inched closer Monday to implementation of a stormwater fee to pay for improvements to the city’s system. A committee voted to hire AMEC Inc. for $484,452.54 to handle the next phase of the project.

Pushed by Engineering Director Abie Ladson, the fee will be charged based on a property’s square feet of impermeable surface, such as roofs and parking lots. For a typical homeowner, the fee would amount to a few dollars a month. Unlike a tax, no owner is exempt, unless the commission opts to exclude that owner.

District 8 Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle spoke out against the next phase of the project, which the commission set in motion last year, saying the handful of ditches that help drain his largely rural, flat district have been viewed with “total disregard” by city maintenance crews until recently.

“If (stormwater) doesn’t go into a creek or pipe, let’s figure out a way to exempt the people,” Guilfoyle said. “Whoever gets county water and sewage, bill them.”

Ladson has promoted the plan as a needed source of money to complete an inventory of existing stormwater structures required by federal law and a way to fund infrastructure improvements. The fee is expected to generate $9.9 million annually, according to Ladson. The fee also could be used to repair roads and other infrastructure damaged by flooding, he said.

According to a schedule included with the agenda item, AMEC and its subconsultants will use the money to complete an educational program for the public using stakeholder meetings and town hall presentations, create a list of capital needs, and develop a rate structure and billing system for implementing the plan.

District 1 Commissioner Bill Fennoy, whose district experiences significant flooding from inadequate or aging infrastructure, made a motion to approve the bid award, which is funded through existing sales taxes. He was seconded by Commissioner Mary Davis, and the motion was approved by committee, 3-0, with Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson absent Monday.

Johnson and Commissioners Alvin Mason, Donnie Smith and Grady Smith were absent Monday, causing the cancellation of three other committee meetings for lack of a quorum.

The six present made up a quorum for a called legal meeting, however, and spent a half-hour behind closed doors with attorneys and City Administrator Fred Russell.

After the legal session, the group approved a $123,460 settlement with former city employee David Pugh. According to the settlement, Pugh had worked for the government since 1969 and experiences chronic lower back pain, despite four surgeries, that leaves him 15 percent permanently disabled.

In another matter, although some commissioners have expressed a desire to evaluate Russell’s job performance for the first time since he became administrator, the effort had grown Monday to an evaluation of all employees who report directly to the commission, such as the city clerk, deputy administrators, city attorneys, environmental services director and finance director.

Though Augusta has an existing evaluation tool for all employees, it lacks anything specific for “direct reports,” those department heads and other staffers who answer directly to the commission, said Human Resources Director Tanika Bryant, who was hired this year.

To evaluate the top city staffers, Bryant said, she expected commissioners to contribute their recommendations toward a model under development that will allow commissioners to evaluate top staffers online.

Bryant said she hopes that if the commission approves the initiative, she would have the evaluation for direct reports in place by January.

The administrative services committee referred four agenda items related to the personnel evaluations to a work session scheduled for 2 p.m. Oct. 16.

SLUM TALK TODAY

Discussion of the proposed designation of the downtown Central Business District as a “slum” under Georgia’s Urban Redevelopment Law – and other potential funding sources – will be the topic of a 1 p.m. work session today in the commission chamber, 530 Greene St.

The designation was the first effort by city leaders to find $26 million to remodel the municipal building, but most commissioners were upset to find out about the proposal when it appeared on a meeting agenda.

Financial consultant Diane McNabb and others are expected to present potential funding sources at the work session, requested by Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

Comments (15) Add comment
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dichotomy
34502
Points
dichotomy 10/07/13 - 11:57 pm
11
0
"District 1 Commissioner Bill

"District 1 Commissioner Bill Fennoy, whose district experiences significant flooding from inadequate or aging infrastructure, made a motion to approve the bid award, which is funded through existing sales taxes. He was seconded by Commissioner Mary Davis"

I hate these commissioners that continue to vote to STEAL and SPEND more and More and MOre and MORe and MORE TAX AND FEE money from people in this county who DO NOT and WILL NOT get ANY service from this new TAX. I feel like I am trapped in TAX HELL with 9 commissioner's hands in my pocket.

What are Fennoy and Davis complaining about. At least their districts HAVE SOME INFRASTRUCTURE....which is more than I can say for my district. But now THEY want ME to pay to fix the pipes in THEIR districts. Words cannot express how much I hate this TAX STEALING, FREE SPENDING, CONSULTANT HIRING, MONEY WASTING, DUAL TAX SYSTEM PROTECTING, Richmond County Commission. And I bet they wonder why people go of. Why in the world did the county residents EVER decide to put their fate in the hands of a city full of welfare residents that had already run the their area into the ground.

Don't bother puckering up Southeast Richmond County. You ain't even going to get kissed on this one.

deestafford
28807
Points
deestafford 10/08/13 - 12:06 am
9
0
Surprise! Surprise!

The bohemouth is turning the taxpayers upside down again and shakin' money from their pockets because it rains on their property.

bubbasauce
22194
Points
bubbasauce 10/08/13 - 01:58 am
8
0
Well said Dichotomy, I am

Well said Dichotomy, I am sick and tired of these money moocher commissiomers also. I can say at least my commissioner Mr. Guillofoyle is against this fee. It is another way to steal money from taxpayers and what is so sad is that most people are clueless about what they are doing. Mr. Abieee Lads on you are a total disgrace to Richmond County and to your so called engineering title that you have. You are just a squirrel in your imaginary world, trying to steal a nut!

nocnoc
45125
Points
nocnoc 10/08/13 - 07:35 am
9
0
Simply Stated ------ > T-MINUS 167 days

The only thing that will save Richmond County, south of Tobacco Rd., is DE-CONSOLIDATION. Otherwise continue to expect DOWNTOWN to pass more taxes that ONLY serve to help Downtown resolve its perpetual $$$$ issues.

An YES it can legally be done, as it has in other GA Metro areas.
All it takes is a petition to get a Voter referendum.

Any South Sider's and PRO DE-CONSOLIDATION residents
up to a Saturday BBQ meeting to work out a plan?

jmo
16772
Points
jmo 10/08/13 - 07:35 am
7
0
"Just a few more dollars a month"

I'm sick of this justification for every tax. A bunch of "fews" add up to a "lot".

nocnoc
45125
Points
nocnoc 10/08/13 - 07:39 am
6
0
14,473,419 seconds,

241,223 minutes, 4020 hours, or 23 week and counting down.

The bottom line to Downtown?

ONE LESS TAXPAYER.

Little Lamb
47048
Points
Little Lamb 10/08/13 - 08:31 am
6
0
Just Once

I'd like to see a reporter give us a straight answer as to whether the stormwater fee calculation formula will be the same for residential property (single-family and multiple family), commercial property, professional office property, warehouse property, and factory property.

Little Lamb
47048
Points
Little Lamb 10/08/13 - 08:37 am
4
1
Waiver

The Obama administration has raised "government by waiver" to a level never-before imagined in the United States. Josef Stalin would be proud of Obama. Now, we can add Fred Russell and Abie Ladson to the list of those who promote government by waiver. Look at this quote from the story above:

Unlike a tax, no owner is exempt, unless the commission opts to exclude that owner.

Marion Williams with his church building will be first in line for a waiver.

Also, do you think Paul Simon will get in line for a waiver for the Marriott Hotel, since it's connected to a government building and all?

GnipGnop
12467
Points
GnipGnop 10/08/13 - 09:03 am
5
0
Pathetic:adj.

A word used to describe the government of ARC. All those consolidation lies that were told...how is that working out for South Augusta? Lower water bills, free trash pickup, street sweepers cleaning your streets...BS is what is what it was and what it will always be!

Susan McCord
127
Points
Susan McCord 10/08/13 - 11:46 am
2
0
Lamb

I think the consultants are helping devise the rate structure. I don't think they've decided who all will pay what yet.

Sweet son
10753
Points
Sweet son 10/08/13 - 12:30 pm
3
0
SPLOST?

Why is the whole storm water project not funded solely with SPLOST money? I realize that everyone wants a piece of the SPLOST pie but if this is so important then why would it not take a priority spot?

The storm water problem did not happen overnight and we taxpayers should not be expected to be taxed again to pay for repairs overnight!

Don't know what the term is for the current SPLOST is but I am sure it is years. How about phases overtime and different projects so that one company will not be the monopoly contractor on the whole job?

Commissioner Guilfoyle is a smart businessman but Wayne, if water is not absorbed by the ground before it leaves someone's property it goes into a pipe or a ditch/creek etc.

Little Lamb
47048
Points
Little Lamb 10/08/13 - 04:14 pm
3
0
One Year Ago Today

On Oct. 8, 2012, the Chronicle published the initial salvo in this stormwater fee war. Here is an exerpt:

At a work session Monday, Engi­neering Director Abie Ladson presented a detailed proposal for implementing the fee, which would be billed based on a property’s square footage of surfaces impervious to water – such as rooftops, driveways or parking lots. The fee for a typical household would be $5 to $6 a month, and property owners of every variety, even tax-exempt churches and schools, would be assessed the amount. The bigger the building and parking lot, the larger the fee, which proponents hope will raise $9.9 million annually.

Well, it looks like Abie Ladson did some calculations and figured he could raise $10 million a year with his formula. But now that we're so enamored with waivers, we will likely be stuck with a patronage system where politically connected property owners will be exempted from the fee.

Sweet son
10753
Points
Sweet son 10/08/13 - 06:10 pm
3
0
Storm Water TAX!

Just say NO!

seenitB4
90981
Points
seenitB4 10/08/13 - 06:59 pm
2
0
Doesn't matter guys

We have it too....if you have a lot of paved driveway you will pay more...:(

dichotomy
34502
Points
dichotomy 10/08/13 - 07:51 pm
1
0
"if water is not absorbed by

"if water is not absorbed by the ground before it leaves someone's property it goes into a pipe or a ditch/creek etc."

First.....no water runs off of my property no matter how hard and how long it rains. My house is in the middle of 16 acres of sandy, loamy soil that absorbs all water.

Second......Southeast Richmond County residents have ditches that have been here for 30, 40, 50 years. No maintenance, no nothing. They will not get anything new for this TAX. All of the money will be spent repairing drain pipes downtown, East Augusta, and West Augusta while Southeast Richmond County will still have the same old ditch we've had for 50 years.

ANY TAX should be for equal grade service. If they are going to tax me for rain water I WANT MY ROAD FRONTAGE PIPED, BURIED, AND LEVELED TO THE ROAD JUST LIKE DOWNTOWN. I WANT EQUAL SERVICE FOR EQUAL TAXATION.

This is JUST ANOTHER ILLEGAL, DISCRIMINATORY TAX thrust upon the RURUAL RESIDENTS by the BLOOD SUCKERS ON THE "CITY" OF AUGUSTA COMMISSION.

To paraphrase Hillary Clinton, "It takes a working County to raise a Welfare City."

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