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Augusta Commission sets work session to discuss SPLOST

Mayor wants approval of 7 projects by March 17

Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 8:15 PM
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 1:59 AM
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A work session Thursday will serve as “SPLOST 101” for the Augusta Commission, which is faced with developing a sales tax package over the next six weeks despite most members having little experience with the funding mechanism.

Deputy Augusta Finance Director Tim Schroer said the mayor’s office asked him to put together a program about the special purpose local option sales tax the city has relied on to fund capital projects since 1988.

Time is of the essence for the 10-member commission, whom Mayor Deke Copenhaver is pushing to approve a list of SPLOST 7 projects by March 17 to make the May 20 ballot. The referendum must pass and include $8 million for Georgia Regents University, or GRU won’t build a new cancer research center in Augusta, Copenhaver said.

This SPLOST is also slated to fund extensive renovations well under way at Augusta Municipal Building.

Besides the renovations and cancer center match, city departments, the mayor and outside agencies have requested nearly $700 million in other projects.

They include $12.5 million for a water park, $19 million for renovations at the downtown Imperial and Miller theatres, $12 million for a GRU Mills Campus and $3 million for a downtown business incubator.

With the addition last year of the new one-cent transportation sales tax, sales taxes in Augusta-Richmond County are now 8 cents on the dollar.

Another SPLOST-related meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday at Diamond Lakes Community Center on Windsor Spring Road with the municipalities of Hephzibah and Blythe to discuss proposed projects.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: SPLOST 7 Work Session

WHEN: 11:30 a.m. Thursday

WHERE: Augusta Municipal Building, 8th Floor Commission Chamber, 530 Greene St.

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badmoon426
1187
Points
badmoon426 02/05/14 - 08:50 pm
14
3
When Did Local Government...

...start crossing the line getting involved in the private sector and get involved in state funded projects?

Exactly why is there any need to fund a water park? Wasn't there a water park in West Augusta that failed?

AS for the GRU Cancer Center why does the local taxpayer have to fund a project that should be funded by the Board of Regents (BoR)? Has the state even requested that the needed local funds for this project to be started and completed?

As for the Mills project why is this being funded at all? The BoR has given no real indication they are are interested in the Mills for the future needs. If it is being done for development purposes then I suggest the private sector take the entire lead.

Really we have a government that has continually put the cart before the horse in almost every recent building project.

countyman
21687
Points
countyman 02/05/14 - 09:55 pm
3
12
Water park

Krystal River water park was located in Evans and failed due to the insurance cost.. The local government in Statesboro(small college town)built a water park and they attract close to 100,000 visitors..

The state doesn't have enough money to pay for the entire cancer center building.

The splost money funding the Mills Campus will help construct the new GRU campus..

The new outlet mall will dramatically increase the amount of local splost funds available.

Augz79
1083
Points
Augz79 02/05/14 - 10:20 pm
6
3
SPLOST

City of Hephzibah will be getting a portion of the SPLOST proceeds regardless, as that is their fair share. The water park is just how they want to use their share. (i.e. Water park = moot point).

City of Augusta is the one that needs to be kept on a short leash.
* $34 million for Diamond Lakes (why?)
* $30 million we already spent, putting lipstick on the Marble Palace (Thanks, Fred)
* $14 million for public arts (remember how expensive the bridge mural on 15th was?)
* $12.9 million for Symphony Orchestra Augusta (welfare for the upper middle class)
* $12 million for the Mills District plan (this needs to be explained further, 12 mil is a lot)
* $8 million for Paine College (they just got the HEAL complex with the last SPLOST, they can't fund-raise this next project?)
* $6 million for Imperial Theatre renovation (welfare for the downtown revitalizationists)
source

pja5529
2726
Points
pja5529 02/05/14 - 11:37 pm
3
4
Water Park

The water park in Statesboro actually makes the city money. Its so successful that hey expanded after 2 years. If anything should be a part of the SPLOST it's this and anything that brings in more money to the city.

dsmith46
35
Points
dsmith46 02/06/14 - 06:35 am
5
1
RUSH

Why does everything done by the Commission seem to be put off till the last minute and then have to be done with such haste that I always feel that they are not even given the time to read and understand what they will be voting on. I think the voters should be given the time also to know what they are voting for or against instead of getting the same story everytime that if you don't pass it, we will lose the matching funding or whatever other excuse will be given.

seenitB4
98561
Points
seenitB4 02/06/14 - 06:42 am
3
1
I love Augusta-but

Some of the items seem lke a re-run on that list..I really wish yall had a cpa on your commish.

Riverman1
94247
Points
Riverman1 02/06/14 - 06:53 am
7
4
Do Other Cities Give To State Government?

What stands out to me is the $12 million for the mills project that the city is trying to give to the state and the $8 million for building at GRU. That's $20 million to the state. Can we at least be told what the $12 million is for and how much Matty K is being paid? A few years ago, the city tore down the housing project and GAVE the land to GRU. Does any other city in Georgia give that kind of money to state government? Does GRU show Augusta even a smidgen of respect?

seenitB4
98561
Points
seenitB4 02/06/14 - 06:58 am
3
1
Does GRU show Augusta even a smidgen of respect?

AND that could be the reason they need the money....no respect means no money.

corgimom
38741
Points
corgimom 02/06/14 - 07:00 am
6
3
One of the reasons that the

One of the reasons that the water park failed is that there was a free lake to swim in just a few miles up the road from it.

And that lake is still there, and it's still free.

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 02/06/14 - 08:12 am
6
3
Falsehood

Countyman posted:

The state doesn't have enough money to pay for the entire cancer center building.

Not so. The state has the power to tax. The state can pay for anything it sets its mind to.

Sure, Augusta also has the power to tax. So Augustans can pay for the cancer center if they want to. But the bigger question is appropriateness. Grooo is a state university. It should pay for its programs out of state funds, alumni contributions, grants, and tuition. To put the cancer center on the backs of Augustans paying sales taxes is just wrong.

nocnoc
49634
Points
nocnoc 02/06/14 - 08:13 am
7
1
A Taxing Orgasm

A few of these Commissioners, would do well to take along a extra change of underwear. Because from what I hear, very little of this TAX $$$$ is going to fix the Infrastructure of ARC. It seems it is about spending for Wet Dreams, Non-essentials, and Name attaching Golden Fleece projects .

nocnoc
49634
Points
nocnoc 02/06/14 - 08:21 am
8
1
BTW:

Brown Rd & Old Waynesboro Rd 4 way.

That last super quick & cheap Pot Hole repair job using just gravel, has washed out again.

Dichotomy does that make 3 or 4 times in the last 12 months?

An some people wonder why the South Side gripes when Downtown has constant Wet Dreams to build something expensive and new.

Instead of maintaining what they already have COUNTY WIDE.

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 02/06/14 - 08:23 am
8
2
Past is Prologue

Tom Corwin and Susan McCord wrote an important story in January that points out the falsehoods in Mayor Copenhaver's pitch. Please read the story linked below:

City Funds Not Needed

story1
807
Points
story1 02/06/14 - 08:34 am
11
2
Vote No

As a community, we must go to the poll and Vote No on Splost this time around. Yes, we need infrastructure support and $ for roads and bridges but if our current leaders slip Fluff into the mix like an incubator, water park, theaters, ball park, race track etc. etc. we need to send them a message with a "No" vote.

lgr
240
Points
lgr 02/06/14 - 09:01 am
8
3
splost

i always vote no for these taxes. who in their right minds agrees to pay a higher tax? they sell this thing saying it will keep your property tax down, but mine always seems to go up. none of these things listed are of any interest to me.

pitcher
47
Points
pitcher 02/06/14 - 09:08 am
9
1
I agree, vote no!

It is unprofessional to rush a vote on something this important, but it will probably be voted down.

We need infrastructure, but nonprofits need to fund raise for things that they want. GRU is a state university. It was made clear that it did not belong to Augusta. Augusta can and should help since GRU is a source for jobs and chances for our students, but it already helps. AZZIZ gets a huge salary, over $600,000, plus a large house to live in. Let him donate some of his salary to the cancer center.

dsterling9
1255
Points
dsterling9 02/06/14 - 10:03 am
7
2
SPLOST

At this point I say No!

How can one find out what 'outside agencies' are requesting funding through the SPLOST? Giving funds to agencies not directly connected with the city/county government could be an avenue for abuse. If funds are given to these agencies is there an audit/accounting follow up?

Is there a means of estimating returns on giving funds to GRU? This is a state operated and funded entity. Based on recent past experience GRU may promise things and renege at the last moment. If funds are to be allowed to GRU the city/county government needs to have a written agreement in advance.

Further, not sure the mayor's 'special programs' should be included.

nocnoc
49634
Points
nocnoc 02/06/14 - 10:34 am
8
1
My vote

ON ANY NEW SPLOST TAXES

NO!

Focus on fixing and maintaining when we have.
Focus on LOWERING TAXES not increasing them just to spend
TAXPAYER $$$$$ on new stuff.

LOWER Taxes to compete with the surrounding LOWER TAX bases around ARC.

story1
807
Points
story1 02/06/14 - 10:47 am
6
1
dsterling9 - Great Point

dsterling9, let us know if you find an audit/accounting trail for Splost money going to outside agencies. One non profit had over $100k in Splost money go missing with no investigation, no audit and no questions from city leaders. Would it be too much asking our leaders to approve an outside firm to audit past Splost recipients and determine how the gifted money was spent.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
11294
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 02/06/14 - 11:14 am
7
3
SPLOST Slush

Ok, so ARC will now be setting a 9% sales tax rate. Hmm, that's 9 cents on the dollar, 90 cents on $10, $9 on the $100 and $90 on every $1,000 you spend. Now if surrounding counties have a lower tax can you guess who will get the business? Sorry ARC business owners, it seems as if your elected officials have degrees from the Obama School of Tax and Spend!!!

countyman
21687
Points
countyman 02/06/14 - 11:46 am
2
5
Splost

The SPLOST funds are the best way to pay for new projects in Richmond County. The outlet mall will bring even more people from outside from area to Augusta.

Nocnoc... $2 million/Old Waynesboro rd resurfacing(Hwy 56 to Burke County)

How many people have seen the entire list of projects? The $700 million is the wish list and not the final product..

Over $370 million on infrastructure
$5 million for the demolition program.

South Augusta
$2 million/Phinizy Swamp
$2 million/Meadowbrook Park
$1.8 million/Apple Valley park
$5 million/Elliott Park
$34 million/Diamond Lakes

$10 million for Hephzibah
$1.5 million for Blythe
http://aug-cdn.com/sites/default/files/SPLOST%20VII%20Project%20Request%...

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
11294
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 02/06/14 - 12:35 pm
7
2
wish list

$2 million/Phinizy Swamp - Money in the Swamp?
$2 million/Meadowbrook Park - Yep, a new place for drug deals, assaults and Murders.
$1.8 million/Apple Valley park - See Meadowbrook Park
$5 million/Elliott Park - See Meadowbrook Park
$34 million/Diamond Lakes - A Water Park. Look at the demographics of the area. What you see is what you'll get!
None of these will improve property values or the quality of life. They'll become gathering places for thugs!!

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
11294
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 02/06/14 - 12:36 pm
3
1
Location

It's not what you provide, but where you provide it!!!!

countyman
21687
Points
countyman 02/06/14 - 01:49 pm
2
5
Hilarious

The 2008/2012 median income average of Burke County is $31,000 and the poverty rate is 31%..

Why are you so quick to generalize all of the residents living in South Augusta?

What thugs live in Diamond Lakes?? The majority of homes near Diamond Lakes are between $150,000 and $300,000.. The Lakes at Spirit Creek subdivision begins in the $190's.. The majority of residential growth and expensive real estate in South Augusta is near the park..

When did Phinizy Swamp become a hangout for thugs? Please stop being afraid of your shadow and explore the CSRA sometime..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrDrKJ6VPhg

countyman
21687
Points
countyman 02/06/14 - 01:43 pm
2
6
Facts vs opinions

Let's please look at the demographics surrounding Diamond Lakes.. Definitely much better neighborhoods compared to Burke County...

1. Walton Acres
2. Manchester
3. Walton Farms
4. Lakes at Spirit Creek
5. Spring Creek Village

Augz79
1083
Points
Augz79 02/06/14 - 01:54 pm
7
2
What does Burke County have to do with anything?

You cherry-pick subdivisions out of south Richmond county to create this picture you want to create... and then compare it to a rural county that has nothing to do with any of this. Unless you are a realtor or live in one of those subdivisions, who cares??? SPLOST is about improving the infrastructure and quality of life for the entire county. If you want to start picking on smaller counties, put your big boy pants on and start comparing Richmond to Columbia County, and throw your handful of cherry-picked neighborhoods up against their whole county. People move to CC over RC for real reasons. Stop trying to manipulate reality and address RC's real challenges (substandard schools being the main problem).

nocnoc
49634
Points
nocnoc 02/06/14 - 02:07 pm
4
1
Let City-Data speak

Take a moment and study the ALL the data.

Open 2 windows
select Richmond and 1 other.
Go down to the MAP then select from any of the 20 data criteria and compare.

You can also click on Zip codes and see a wealth of info which quickly dis-spells a lot misinformation and HYPE.

EXAMPLE:
Augusta-Richmond County (balance), GA
30815, 30906
Population: 10,126
Households: 4,073
Family households: 2,761 (67.8%)
Non-Family households: 1,312 (32.2%)
White Population: 7,584 (74.9%)
Black Population: 1,873 (18.5%)
Asian Population: 81 (0.8%)
Hispanic Population: 60 (0.6%)
American Indian Population: 50 (0.5%)
Multirace Population: 475 (4.7%)
Median household income: $43,830
Median house or condo value: $111,921
Median contract rent: $492
Unemployment: 3.5%
Residents below the poverty level: 10.9%
Median resident age: 36.3
Males: 49.7%
Females: 50.3%

Richmond Co.
http://www.city-data.com/county/Richmond_County-GA.html

Columbia Co.
http://www.city-data.com/county/Columbia_County-GA.html

Burke Co.
http://www.city-data.com/county/Burke_County-GA.html

nocnoc
49634
Points
nocnoc 02/06/14 - 02:17 pm
4
1
Is ARC-GA charging NYC tax rates?

The New York City Sales Tax rate is 4.5%,
NY State Sales and Use Tax is 4% and the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District surcharge of 0.375% for a total Sales and Use Tax of 8.875 percent.

What was Augusta's & Ga's combined tax rate again?

All we need now is a Proposal for a Subway and a City Income tax.

GnipGnop
12744
Points
GnipGnop 02/06/14 - 02:23 pm
5
2
If a water park is so

profitable then why hasn't a private investor built one? NO MORE TAX MONEY FOR PET PROJECTS!!! MCG (No to GRU) has slapped Augusta in the face time and time again but yet you want Augustans to give them money? You don't need parks you need to do the things you already collected taxes for...like say widen Windsor Spring Road? Keep getting these SPLOSTS passed and you will drive up the economy of the surrounding areas. Some people don't have to explore South Augusta...they were either raised there or live there. They own property there and they are tired of seeing their property taxes raised so someone else can profit for themselves in downtown while South Augusta sinks into oblivion...that's not an opinion that is a FACT!

countyman
21687
Points
countyman 02/06/14 - 02:34 pm
2
5
Facts

The poster actually lives in Burke County and the subdivisions I mentioned earlier are next to Diamond Lakes park... The $12.5 million water park will be located in South Augusta(Diamond Lakes and Regency Mall mentioned) and not the city of Hephzibah.. The city of Hephzibah wants $10 million in total and $4 million for the recreational facility(small YMCA water park)..

What does Columbia County have to do with anything? I lived in both counties(RC/CC) and many people aren't moving to CC for 'real reasons'. They've been following the media hype, steering from local realtors, and the traditional suburban growth patterns.. The same patterns happen across the US and then people began moving back into the urban core. The graduation rate at Cross Creek is right on par with any high school in Columbia County. Many residents will still try to steer middle/upper middle class white people away from moving to South Augusta. Put on your big boy pants, instead of focusing on those neighborhoods in South Augusta, let's compare the homes in Summerville, Forest Hills, West Augusta, and North Richmond against Columbia County..

Nocnoc.. All of the subdivisions I mentioned in South Augusta have a Hephzibah address(30815)..

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