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Hephzibah, Blythe want more sales-tax funds

Friday, Feb. 7, 2014 9:16 PM
Last updated 9:40 PM
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Hephzibah and Blythe are both asking for a larger share of Augusta’s new round of 1-cent sales tax revenue than in the past in order to fund projects their mayors say will accommodate expected growth in the region.

Their allocations would be included in the roughly $200 million in capital projects that Augusta staff is working to narrow down from a $700 million list of needs and wants. The Augusta Commission must approve the special purpose local option sales tax project list by March 10 for it to make the May 20 ballot.

Hephzibah is asking for $10.2 million, more than double what it received in the previous tax, for a new agricultural center, bike lanes, a recreational facility and other upgrades. Blythe’s wish list amount doubled to $2.2 million for water system upgrades, a community building and equipment.

With significant growth anticipated between now and the Army Cyber Command’s launch in 2019, city officials said infrastructure upgrades are needed to accommodate the families and workers expected to relocate there.

“We’ve got a lot to look forward to, and it’s a chance in a lifetime opportunity that we have,” said District 8 Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle. “If we don’t prepare for it and be proactive instead of reactive, we’re going to lose. We’re going to fall behind.”

Guilfoyle said because Blythe and Hephzibah don’t charge their citizens taxes, the sales tax acts as a vital funding source for building infrastructure.

The most ambitious project Hephzibah hopes to build with the tax funds is a $4.7 million recreational multi-use facility it would lease to the YMCA to generate income for the city. It would have a swimming pool and water park and would aim to attract people from south Rich­mond County and beyond, Hephzibah Mayor Robert Buchwitz said.

“We’re trying to create some small businesses and job opportunities and places for children to go as well,” he said.

The city hopes to build a $1.8 million agricultural center and arena on the same site as the recreational facility, which would be on a 150-acre city-owned lot between Wilson and Mims roads.

Buchwitz said the agricultural center could be a “destination place” for large events and daily activities.

The city wants to use
$1 million to build a fire station close to the Richmond Coun­ty, Heph­zibah and Burke Coun­ty line that was denied in previous rounds of the sales tax.

Buchwitz said Hephzibah has an automatic aid agreement with Richmond County to provide fire service on the south end of Richmond County and that a new station makes sense.

“This facility would serve more south Richmond County people at this time than it would Hephzibah residents, but as we continue to grow and try to attract some of the Cyber Command people to Heph­zibah, south Richmond County area, we feel like that area will grow,” he said.

The city wants $230,000 to automate its water meter system; $1.2 million for bike lanes; $100,000 for Windsor Spring Road beautification; $500,000 to connect its sewer to Augusta; and various vehicles and equipment.

Blythe Mayor Brent Weir said his city’s infrastructure needs should also be looked at as regional needs.

Blythe’s plan would use $900,000 for a new community building/library/park; $350,000 for water system upgrades; $300,000 for road improvements; $300,000 for police vehicles; and upgrades for Wi-Fi, equipment and information technology.

“We don’t have any other huge sources of funding, so when a SPLOST package comes around, we can make huge improvements to our infrastructure that wouldn’t happen any other way,” Weir said.

Augusta Mayor Deke Copen­­haver said its up to the commission to look at the two cities’ needs and decide how much can be spared from Augusta’s $200 million base. However, he said not preparing for a region’s needs and being overwhelmed by growth later could be more costly than planning up front.

“I do like the fact Heph­zibah is looking at positioning themselves for growth as we see the impact coming from the Cyber Command and everything else,” Copenhaver said. “I’m not at all offended they’re looking outside the box.”

Comments (28) Add comment
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countyman
19158
Points
countyman 02/07/14 - 10:49 pm
3
5
All three cities working together

The city of Hephzibah needs to become more suburban oriented and still provide the rural lifestyle. Blythe is a great place to create a new exurb, building new large estate homes in the area..

dichotomy
30671
Points
dichotomy 02/08/14 - 12:03 am
4
1
"and still provide the rural

"and still provide the rural lifestyle."

That's why we keep those silos countyman....striving to provide that rural lifestyle. No sir...we don't want those problematic decisions like whether or not to put up another traffic light between the Publix shopping plaza and the Kroger shopping plaza.

Riverman1
79582
Points
Riverman1 02/08/14 - 04:57 am
3
5
Countywide Offices to Hephzibah

Richmond County would benefit by locating some countywide offices in Heph­zibah. Everything shouldn't be built in the old city of Augusta.

corgimom
28161
Points
corgimom 02/08/14 - 07:42 am
3
0
6 Silos Over Hephzibah!

6 Silos Over Hephzibah!

nocnoc
38632
Points
nocnoc 02/08/14 - 08:08 am
3
0
Sorry H & B

But Downtown has other ideas on how to use $$$$$$$$$
The CBD needs a New set of shoes, a coffee shop and cleanup

BTW:
Any truth to the rumor there was a silly proposal to build a DOWNTOWN Cyber Command Welcome Center, staffed with 10 people?

scoobynews
3771
Points
scoobynews 02/08/14 - 08:19 am
6
2
Richmond is dislusional if

Richmond is dislusional if they think most of these cyber command employees are going to move there when they get here. Word of month spreads quickly. The upper crust will do their research on the school districts, crime rates, and amenities. The internet has made this very easy to do long before they even get here. They will focus on the Evans area if they are high ranking.

seenitB4
81674
Points
seenitB4 02/08/14 - 09:05 am
4
1
Some will move there

The city of Blythe/Heph DESERVES more money...they have been slighted for too long...I can see nice subdivs & people moving nearby...good going Wayne & please keep it up..

seenitB4
81674
Points
seenitB4 02/08/14 - 09:07 am
3
3
Yes this this too!

Richmond County would benefit by locating some countywide offices in Heph­zibah..(river)

avidreader
2999
Points
avidreader 02/08/14 - 09:29 am
5
2
Agree With Scooby!

As Scooby says, "Richmond County is delusional." Columbia county will reap the lion's share of the housing benefits. Of course, I may be way off the mark in my assumptions. I'm just thinking like an educated, responsible father with a loving wife and motivated children. Let's see; my nearest shopping districts would be Tobacco Road or Columbia Road?

griff6035
3904
Points
griff6035 02/08/14 - 09:42 am
4
2
Locations for Cyber Command Personnel

North Burke county has plenty of open land and two pretty good school systems, The County public school system, and Edmond Burke Academy.

seenitB4
81674
Points
seenitB4 02/08/14 - 10:05 am
2
0
scooby/avidreader

I get what you are saying, but...you are not immune to daddy gov's plan. Evidently...you haven't read the plan that is now ongoing....I can attest to it because I see it in all areas of Atlanta..ALL areas.

http://news.investors.com/012114-687022-hud-regulation-targets-local-zon...

corgimom
28161
Points
corgimom 02/08/14 - 10:26 am
4
1
Scooby, Army people all know

Scooby, Army people all know each other, I'm sure people in the Cyber Command has already contacted their friends at Ft. Gordon, the word has already gone out, you can be assured.

itsanotherday1
40334
Points
itsanotherday1 02/08/14 - 10:55 am
3
1
I don't see them moving

I don't see them moving anywhere but north of Gordon Highway. Grovetown has exploded with new housing over the past few years, as has the Columbia to Lewiston Rd end of William Few Pkwy. There are neighborhood schools there, but most of all, IT IS CLOSE TO WORK.

seenitB4
81674
Points
seenitB4 02/08/14 - 11:03 am
4
1
Don't under estimate Burke county

I can see the leaders coming out big time to lure some of the home owners in their direction....cheaper land/homes & really not to far to drive...

countyman
19158
Points
countyman 02/08/14 - 11:45 am
3
2
Richmond County

I think some of the residents living in Columbia County are delusional about the growth outside of the county. Why are private developers building new homes in multiple places if everybody is moving to Evans? The outlet mall, Gander Mountain, and Whole Foods would be coming to Evans if all the people from the cyber command were expected to move there..

I know the local media doesn't focus on the growth in Richmond County, but just drive around sometime..

Five new subdivisions are under construction in Richmond County outside of Fort Gordon(Gates 1 & 2)...

The demographics in West Augusta, North Richmond, Summerville, and Forest Hills are on par with Evans..

Avidreader.. The Jimmie Dyess area will likely become the nearest shopping district and it's much better than Columbia or Tobacco road.. The planned 25 acre shopping maybe dead, but they have plans for a mixed use development and strip center..

itsanotherday1
40334
Points
itsanotherday1 02/08/14 - 11:20 am
2
0
CM

Is that not north of Gordon Highway?

countyman
19158
Points
countyman 02/08/14 - 11:28 am
1
2
South of Gordon Hwy

Itsanotherday.. The comment wasn't directed to you, but many are people south of Gordon Hwy too.. The local media loves to focus on the growth in Grovetown all the time, but many other places are expanding..

There's plenty of land on the southside on Gordon Hwy between Jimmie Dyess Pkwy and Harlem...

New subdivisions/homes are popping up in the city limits of Hephzibah and South Augusta..

The apartment complex(Fort Gordon Place) is under construction at the intersection of Tobacco/Deans Bridge(right outside gate 5) and is suppose to include commercial in the future..

Little Lamb
43923
Points
Little Lamb 02/08/14 - 11:41 am
1
0
War on Terrorism

You know, if a future president were to actually win the war against Islamic terrorism, the NSA presence at Ft. Gordon would start to wither away. Don't forget that army bases wax and wane. Don't count on military gravy forever.

However, it's good to cash in on the gravy while it's here. Just don't bet the entire farm.

dichotomy
30671
Points
dichotomy 02/08/14 - 12:11 pm
2
0
It's too bad they turned down

It's too bad they turned down the charter school in Hephzibah. The RC school system is really the drawback to young middle income families locating to this end of the county. Two or three charter schools would sure help attract folks out this way.

countyman
19158
Points
countyman 02/08/14 - 12:18 pm
2
3
Irony

Dichotomy... Many of your comments don't help the situation either.. They might believe the entire area of South Richmond County is bad considering your constant negative remarks.. The growth in South Augusta will have a major effect on Hephzibah and Blythe..

The graduation rate in Cross Creek is on par with the best schools in the CSRA except for the magnet schools in Richmond County. The schools in Hephzibah aren't bad either, but they have to be promoted to the local public..

seenitB4
81674
Points
seenitB4 02/08/14 - 12:24 pm
5
2
ctyman

YOU bad mouth most of Augusta everyday...when you talk about the old timers & the very ones who BUILT the city...you are BAD MOUTHING!!

pot meet kettle.

Dixieman
12952
Points
Dixieman 02/08/14 - 01:45 pm
2
0
Well, of course they do, darling

Bunch of politicians want more $$$?
This is not news, like "dog bites man" is now news.
Now, if the story was "a bunch of politicians turn down $$$"?
Stop press! hold the front page!! That WOULD be news, like "man bites dog"!

countyman
19158
Points
countyman 02/08/14 - 02:23 pm
3
3
Seenitb4...

My comment was strictly related to the natives who feel the need to constantly bash Richmond County..

Since you like to join in sometimes, I guess you wouldn't understand..

allhans
23288
Points
allhans 02/08/14 - 03:10 pm
1
0
It appears that the BOE is

It appears that the BOE is expanding the Lake Forest Hills elementary school. Apparently this school will stay open.

seenitB4
81674
Points
seenitB4 02/08/14 - 05:13 pm
5
0
Oh I understand

You have an agenda on here...

YOU are not the police control over posts/

There isn't a place in the USA that is perfect...certainly not Richmond county...put on your big boy pants & suck it up...if you can't handle our posts just put us on ignore..

scoobynews
3771
Points
scoobynews 02/09/14 - 08:08 am
2
1
All people have to do is read

All people have to do is read the AC and realize why it gets bashed. Marion Williams alone makes it a joke!! Richmond county has taken a nose dive for years due to dirty politics and racism on both sides. As for those new developments near Grovetown the realtors need to educate themselves on school zones because they are telling people they are zoned for Columbia county. Especially the one right down by gate 2. Those McMansions are just built for multiple family's who can pile as many extended family members as they can to help pay the mortgage.

scoobynews
3771
Points
scoobynews 02/09/14 - 08:15 am
3
0
Seenit

Interesting read. I am not surprised by the results at all. Like the old saying you can led a horse to water but you can't make it drink. HUD mentality is what ruined south Augusta.

seenitB4
81674
Points
seenitB4 02/09/14 - 08:51 am
3
0
scooby

I 100% agree with you....^^^

I lived right off Wheeless in the past, I KNOW what we had & I LOVED it there...the US Gov has done more to DESTROY the best things of life. The sad thing is...It takes many years to undo the madness, & many children miss out on a good education. imo

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