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Plan to develop Augusta stormwater fee passes

Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 6:34 PM
Last updated 7:30 PM
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The stormwater management program that will likely cost property owners a few extra dollars a month moved forward Tuesday after the Augusta Commission authorized its next phase of development.

The 8-1 vote, opposed only by Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle, revived what has become a familiar debate over drainage infrastructure. Guilfoyle maintains his rural District 8 relies on barely-maintained ditches and little else, so people there shouldn’t have to pay a fee.

Engineering Director Abie Ladson, who has pushed for the fee for a year, said the commission on Tuesday authorized only paying consultant AMEC Inc. $484,453 to develop a stormwater management plan, including completing an inventory of all stormwater structures. AMEC will help Augusta determine where to charge the fee and how much to charge, he said.

Ladson has estimated the fee will generate up to $10 million in annual revenue to fund maintenance of aging and insufficient stormwater infrastructure that causes areas around the city to flood during heavy rains, but hasn’t spoken specifically about its impact on property owners.

Typically, as it is in Columbia County, the fee is charged to all property owners, regardless of tax-exempt status. The suburban county imposed the fee in 2000 on an area east of William Few Parkway and north of Wrightsboro Road, where most of its population lives.

Commissioner Marion Williams asked Ladson if the fee would remain in place once repairs were made. Ladson said yes, that it would fund ongoing maintenance and accommodate growth.

“It’s one of those things that we all have to do our part,” Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson said of paying the fee if the commission OKs its imposition. “We have to do something. I think this is going to help address beautification” as well as improve drainage infrastructure.

“Water doesn’t stop flowing and wind doesn’t stop blowing at the district line,” quipped Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

Besides Guilfoyle, none on the commission spoke out against the fee. Commissioner Donnie Smith said it could help areas of his district such as National Hills, whose inadequate stormwater system causes certain areas to flood.

“We spend money on our road systems on a constant basis,” Smith said. “The same would apply on the stormwater system, am I right?”

Guilfoyle said the argument that, like school taxes, all should pay to help some in need did not apply.

“When you’ve got apartment complexes and you’ve got two kids in every apartment,” he said, “that apartment complex don’t pay its fair share.”

IN OTHER ACTION, the Augusta Commission:

• Recognized employee of the month, Richmond County Sheriff’s Deputy Austin Shepherd, for rescuing a homeless family he encountered while on patrol and finding them food, clothing and shelter.

• Voted to allow a meeting between General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie, attorney Colette Holt and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Coordinator Yvonne Gentry to discuss creating a program that is not race and gender neutral for the city’s award of contracts. The city has been enjoined from using the criteria since a court order declared it was unconstitutional for using outdated data.

• Approved the city’s Information Technology department moving forward with development of a city government cable channel.

• Received City Administrator Fred Russell’s recommended budget for fiscal 2014, which starts in January. The 166-page document includes a $1,500 bonus for all employees and must be balanced by Nov. 19, but currently shows an $8.5 million deficit, Russell said.

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bubbasauce
17216
Points
bubbasauce 10/15/13 - 07:34 pm
9
3

You got to be kidding?

You got to be kidding? Obviously we here in Richmond County have such incompetent people they have to hire consultants to do everything for them. What a joke you all are down there. Does anyone know how to get anything done without a consultant telling them? That is exactly what is wrong with our brilliant minds downtown just as it is in D.C., Washington, D.C. that is. Thanks Wayne for not being a lap dog for Mr. Abbiieee and others! Keep it up Commissioners and pretty soon we will have a Detroit City on our hands. I for one am sick and tired of getting nickel and dimed to death! Incompetence is ransit downtown that's for sure.

prov227
2291
Points
prov227 10/15/13 - 07:39 pm
8
2

A new tax

and not even a wimper from the taxpayer.

Gage Creed
12363
Points
Gage Creed 10/15/13 - 08:16 pm
9
1

"• Voted to allow a meeting

"• Voted to allow a meeting between General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie, attorney Colette Holt and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Coordinator Yvonne Gentry to discuss creating a program that is not race and gender neutral for the city’s award of contracts. "

So the government is going to meet to discuss awarding city contracts based on race and gender???? UNBELIEVABLE!!

jmo
12213
Points
jmo 10/15/13 - 08:38 pm
6
1

My favorite justification......

Only a few extra dollars a month. BBBBBBBSSSSSSS. I'm tired of it.

showboat
264
Points
showboat 10/15/13 - 08:38 pm
0
0

You mean to tell me that

Unpublished

You mean to tell me that they are going to give some hard working people some more money. we will be watching this items.

Little Lamb
40134
Points
Little Lamb 10/15/13 - 09:38 pm
8
1

Columbia County

The Columbia County stormwater fee applies only in the developed areas, where there are underground storm sewer pipes fed by above-ground drainage culverts on roadsides. The rural residents, where there are only ditches, do not pay the fee.

That's what Wayne Guilfoyle was trying to get across, even if he had trouble articulating it.

row
18
Points
row 10/15/13 - 09:42 pm
6
1

Rain Tax

Bend over Richmond County here comes another one, but ya'll should be used to it by now. They might as well add another penny to the Splost, that would make it an even nickel. Consultants got to eat too.

dichotomy
26632
Points
dichotomy 10/15/13 - 10:50 pm
9
2

And arrogant Donnie Smith

And arrogant Donnie Smith talking about everyone doing their part. Easy for him to say since he represents a district THAT ACTUALLY GETS SERVICES. I wish I could get him face to face out here in my ditch for 5 minutes and I'd impress him with the Southeast Richmond County point of view.

Southeast Richmond County.....it is TIME. We have NO CHANCE OF BEING REPRESENTED FAIRLY IN RICHMOND COUNTY. NO CHANCE OF EVERY GETTING A FAIR SHAKE OR A FAIR SHARE OF THE DISTRIBUTION OF OUR MONEY. The commission is stacked with people from districts THAT HAVE ALL OF THE COUNTY SERVICES and WE ARE IN A DISTRICT THAT DOES NOT HAVE SERVICES and they WANT YOU TO PAY FOR THEIR DISTRICT'S SERVICES. They continue to treat us this way and they continue to STEAL OUR MONEY AND GIVE US NOTHING. We have run out of ways to call their attention to our problems without doing something radical. IT'S TIME SOUTHEAST RIGHMOND COUNTY....IT'S TIME.

People like these arrogant 8 commissioners have decided to take YOUR money and GIVE YOU NO SERVICE. Their districts HAVE services. WE DO NOT AND NEVER WILL. We HAVE to take some kind of affirmative actions to protect ourselves from these ROBBERS AND THIEVES. This is a MUGGING and we don't have many options TO DEFEND OURSELVES. A mugging is a mugging whether it be on a street corner or in the commission chambers. SOUTHEAST RICHMOND COUNTY, YOU HAVE BEEN ROBBED....AGAIN.....STILL.

This is NOT a few dollars a month. This is MILLIONS of dollars taken out of DISTRICT 8 each year FOR WHICH YOU WILL RECEIVE NOTHING, NOT A DAMNED THING.....as is the usual case for Southeast Richmond County. They steal your money and dump their crap out here. It is time to physically raise up and TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR DISTRICT.

Kudos to Commissioner Guilfoyle for trying to represent us BUT HE HAS NO CHANCE. He is 1 against 9 who are determined to steal our money, bleed us dry, and leave us to die a slow death. WE DO NOT HAVE A CHANCE IN THIS COUNTY. SOMETHING RADICAL HAS TO HAPPEN. THIS CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE WITHOUT CONSEQUENCES. THERE IS A 17 YEAR HISTORY OF THEM TAKING OUR MONEY AND GIVING US NOTHING. IT HAS TO STOP.

dichotomy
26632
Points
dichotomy 10/15/13 - 11:01 pm
3
1

Anybody got a list of the 8

Anybody got a list of the 8 commissioners that voted to steal our money?

welbow
27155
Points
welbow 10/15/13 - 11:28 pm
2
0

@dichotomy

Here ya go:

http://www.augustaga.gov/index.aspx?nid=652

Take off Guilfoyle obviously.

As someone who lives in, what I think was the old city, I agree. Why should we pay more because the folks in the marble palace have wasted our money?

There are parts of our county government that are like zits, waiting for someone brave enough to squeeze and clean out all the pus.

Darby
19141
Points
Darby 10/16/13 - 12:18 am
6
2

Just one more example in a never ending saga of mindless,

thoughtless absence of leadership. Hang on Richmond County, it's only going to get worse as Democrats take total control of local government.

Welcome to little Detroit!

Riverman1
70534
Points
Riverman1 10/16/13 - 04:36 am
4
1

Deke Tries To Be Funny

When Deke tries to joke he reminds me of the kid in the AT&T commercial saying, “Queen my dishes please,” and then having to tell the other kids, "it’s a funny."

Riverman1
70534
Points
Riverman1 10/16/13 - 04:43 am
3
2

Wayne Guilfoyle Was Eloquent

LL, I thought Wayne Guilfoyle was eloquent, succinct and accurate. Deke trying to get philosophical with him is what needs explaining. I thought Deke is supposed to sit there, not touch any buttons, keep his mouth shut and only pass out the certificates of appreciation. I would include passing out the water bottles to commissioners, but Russell does that. Maybe Deke could help with that to give him something to do instead of trying to speak.

dsmith46
35
Points
dsmith46 10/16/13 - 07:49 am
4
1

Stormwater Fee

I have to stand by my comment of yesterday and say again that I don't object to the fee (tax), but I hate to waste a half a million dollars that could be spent on storm water control. This city wastes more money on consultants and studies from outside the existing goverment that has plenty of qualified people to do this work and probably better than the outsiders. I repeat that I think it would be easy to find an existing plan in another city and implement it here without needing an outsider. I don't think that these plans wouldn't be shared with us, especially if we give them credit for helping us out.

GnipGnop
10947
Points
GnipGnop 10/16/13 - 07:51 am
5
1

Once again

TAX TAX TAX....anybody that re-elects any of these buffoons gets what they deserve.

Little Lamb
40134
Points
Little Lamb 10/16/13 - 08:08 am
6
1

Comprehension

This is the quote I was referring to, RM:

“When you’ve got apartment complexes and you’ve got two kids in every apartment,” Commissioner Guilfoyle said, “that apartment complex don’t pay its fair share.”

Now, I don't begrudge him the grammatical faux pas. I'm talking about the substance, the logic of what he said. He implies that apartment buildings will not pay appropriate fees based on the density of population compared with single family residences. That is a red herring. The stormwater fee is based on impervious surface. Population density is not and should not be part of the equation. The basis is how much rain that falls on your property soaks into the ground on your property versus the rain that falls on your property that is directed to a storm drain (ditch or buried pipe).

That being said, I sympathize and agree with Guilfoyle and Dichotomy. There is a case to be made that property served by ditches should pay a lower fee (or no fee) than property served by buried storm drainage pipes. Guilfoyle could not explain the concept because he never thought it out completely. If Commissioner Guilfoyle wishes, I will be glad to come to a committee meeting or a commission meeting as his guest and explain it to Donnie Smith and Corey Johnson and Deke Copenhaver, complete with flip chart diagrams. I could even make up a power point presentation with a little preparation.

Richmond County property owners with large tracts of timberland, farm acreage, and other uses that have little impervious surface would presumably pay little or nothing. Think of the property owners in Hyde Park that have had their house demolished and driveway removed. They will pay nothing, while their next door neighbor with a small house sitting on a small lot, they will pay.

As I mentioned above, Columbia County tried to accommodate the ditch versus drain argument by giving rural property owners exemption from the fee. It's not a completely fair solution because many of those people have some impervious surface, and some of the rain that falls on their property runs into storm ditches and onto someone else’s property eventually.

The best solution is to nix the storm water fee, and instead make do with current tax collections.

Or, if they are bound and determined to have a storm water fee just because Columbia County has one; then combine the new fee with a small property tax rollback. Such a rollback would garner good will from beleaguered taxpayers who see nothing but sneaky ways to increase income without any attempt to cut waste and fraud. $400,000 to pay a consultant to calculate how to collect a fee is outrageous waste. We have accountants at the marble palace who could do that as a part of their normal job duties at no extra cost.

my.voice
4194
Points
my.voice 10/16/13 - 08:20 am
8
1

Next Month - ARC

Next Month - ARC Administrator Alfred E Newman will introduce a tax on taxes department. A consultant will be hired to study developing a department whose sole existence will be to find new and creative ways to tax the population.

Fiat_Lux
13863
Points
Fiat_Lux 10/16/13 - 08:23 am
6
1

Regarding all the services in Donnie Smith's district

Well, I live in it. Our street is a mess of rotten pavement due to crappy drainage everywhere.

Your ditch may be a mess, but I have a 8-foot wide, 8-foot deep sinkhole in my backyard from a collapsed county sewage line to an apartment complex that never was built. My sinkhole made it to the list of county responsibilities to be repaired--at some point when they get around to it. That was 5 months ago.

Your ditch may get attention before my backyard does. Meanwhile, the hole has begun eating my garden and my fence. Pretty soon, it will be my neighbor's problem too.

nocnoc
30838
Points
nocnoc 10/16/13 - 08:32 am
5
1

Dist 8 what more of a reason do you need ?

Start planning for a petition drive for a District 8 2016 Voter referendum.

A DE-Consolidation referendum

How many more tax increases or much more of your tax money do you want to send DownTown?

all while District 8 does without the basic maintenance and repairs. Repairs we received prior to the Consolidation mistake to bail out Downtown.

It is a fact Consolidation diluted your vote. Downtown can raise your taxes to feed themselves as they wish.

DE-Consolidation has been legally accomplished in GA. already So there is no excuse other than enjoying being hosed over year after year to feed the Downtown Money Pit. Plus the $1/2 million dollar consulting fees that always seem to have the right people employed or involved.

BTW:
Remember one of the selling points of Consolidation was it would stabilize Taxes.

Any one want to chime in what the County Tax rate was prior to Consolidation vs. now?

Fiat_Lux
13863
Points
Fiat_Lux 10/16/13 - 08:35 am
2
1

@ nocnoc

I can hear the screams already.

Little Lamb
40134
Points
Little Lamb 10/16/13 - 08:50 am
3
2

Service Area

Here is a link to the Columbia County Government web page that shows the areas that are "served" by the Stormwater Utility (i.e., they pay the fee) and those that are not served by the Stormwater Utility (no fee). You can see that the western part of the county does not pay the fee, and only the eastern part (Martinez and Evans areas) pay the fee.

Service Areas

Maybe Wayne Guilfoyle can show this to Abie Ladson for food for thought. Of course, I live in District 7; so if District 8 is exempted from the fees, my fees will go up from Ladson's original dream. But, hey, we've all got to pitch in, right?

Little Lamb
40134
Points
Little Lamb 10/16/13 - 09:00 am
2
1

Question

Here is an interesting question: Does Fort Gordon maintain its storm drainage system, or do they expect Augusta to come onto fort property and clean out the ditches and repair the underground pipes? Will Fort Gordon have to pay the fees?

Bulldog
1251
Points
Bulldog 10/16/13 - 09:09 am
4
2

Are they all idiots?

Can Richmond County Employees do nothing? Apparently not! Every bit of planning is done by a consultant firm to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars! The objections of those in South Augusta are honest. Time to move elsewhere like the tens of thousands of others that have had it with the incompetence over the last 15 years! In all honesty, the issue lies with the commissioners. As a group, they are hardly the cream of the crop. When you have low education, low information commissioners, who are there only for their own self gratification, you have a formula for failure...

seenitB4
72606
Points
seenitB4 10/16/13 - 09:26 am
3
2

Amazing patience you have

When I read the posts on here day after day...I think..how much more can they endure....why aren't you downtown PROTESTING along side of the bus drivers...at least they have the %%$# to do that!!!

The idiots are putting millions on studies--consultants & yet you don't march in their face....either get off the POT or give up!!!

I would move to another county because that place is sinking ..

seenitB4
72606
Points
seenitB4 10/16/13 - 09:28 am
3
2

bulldog has the answer

Time to move elsewhere like the tens of thousands of others that have had it with the incompetence over the last 15 years!

nocnoc
30838
Points
nocnoc 10/16/13 - 09:35 am
2
2

LL makes the point

Columbia Co. DOES NOT CHARGE EVERY HOUSE.
It does not charge those in the rural areas.
that receive ZERO benefit.

Typically, as it is in Columbia County, the fee is charged to all property owners, regardless of tax-exempt status. HOWEVER the imposed fee is ONLY on areas east of William Few Parkway and north of Wrightsboro Road, where most of its population lives.

In short CC imposed a fair use tax of everyone.
Not the tax that ARC stuck rural districtd with in the Back.

BTW: Why did so many Districts commissioners vote for it?
Just Look at how they drew the district lines. http://www.augustaga.gov/index.aspx?nid=524

Maybe it is time to redraw some district lines so as to provide provide for EQUAL/Fair Representation for ALL County areas?

nocnoc
30838
Points
nocnoc 10/16/13 - 09:44 am
4
2

SIB4 - My countdown clock has been running.

T-Minus 160 days as of 9:34am
13,824,000 seconds
230,400 minutes
3840 hours

Last week we started looking between Cleveland Ga and Dahlonega Ga off Ga 52 and Long Branch.

The wife and I know this will be our last USA move.

seenitB4
72606
Points
seenitB4 10/16/13 - 09:46 am
4
2

nocnoc

You probably are getting out in the nick of time.

Fiat_Lux
13863
Points
Fiat_Lux 10/16/13 - 10:03 am
1
2

@ nocnoc

Try a bit further north. You should get out of Georgia altogether, which is quickly becoming a southern version of Michigan's trouble spots.

Move to Tennessee. They don't have state income tax and have always seemed to be less interested in keeping closed tabs on their people, at least it seems that way to me.

Darby
19141
Points
Darby 10/16/13 - 10:17 am
2
1

"Anybody got a list of the 8 commissioners that voted

to steal our money?"

.'
That's an easy one... ALL OF THEM, minus Guilfoyle.

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