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City set to approve borrowing $8 million for Georgia Regents University research center

Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 7:38 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 1:39 AM
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An $8 million loan to help Georgia Regents University build a cancer research center and repay using future sales tax collections goes for Augusta Commission approval Tuesday.

The loan, a tax anticipation note issued in advance of the city’s next special purpose local option sales tax, needs approval now to make a July state deadline to bank matching funds for the GRU construction project, city Deputy Finance Director Tim Schroer told commissioners at a recent meeting.

Besides briefly discussing the loan last week, the mayor and commission have done little to narrow down a $741 million wish list of projects scheduled to go before voters May 20.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver said the likelihood of a referendum passing goes down if the amount is above $200 million, but the wish list continues to include items such as competing water parks and multiple performing arts facilities.

With commission approval of a package needed next month to include the referendum on the ballot, Commissioner Bill Lockett said the tax package must have more time and wants to delay the vote until November.

“The degree of urgency is obviously not well thought out,” Lockett said.

Also included on the meeting agenda is a discussion of the ongoing relief effort in response to last week’s ice storm.

IN OTHER ACTION

Also going before the commission Tuesday include:

• Considering a request from First Tee of Augusta Chairman Emeritus Paul Simon to reconsider his proposal to merge and share resources between First Tee and Augusta Municipal Golf Course

• A proposal from Augusta Interfaith Coalition Director Christopher Johnson to reduce the number of commissioners and make them full-time employees

• Approval of cost-of-living increases for city pensioners of 1.8 percent, effective in March

• Approving up to $150,000 in SPLOST 6 funds for Sand Ridge Community Association to complete capital improvements at Jamestown Community Park

• A request from Lockett for a detailed accounting of all SPLOST revenues and spending since the program began in 1988

• An update on the status of 2.4 percent budget cuts the commission approved for all departments in this year’s budget

Comments (33) Add comment
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corgimom
32139
Points
corgimom 02/17/14 - 11:15 pm
8
0
Can someone please tell me

Can someone please tell me what would happen if the SPLOST wouldn't be approved?

And does anybody really believe that the State of Georgia couldn't find $ 8 million to build this any other way?

KSL
128773
Points
KSL 02/18/14 - 02:57 am
3
2
I am with you on this, corgi.

I am with you on this, corgi. Every one in the district paying that tax should be objecting.

Riverman1
83469
Points
Riverman1 02/18/14 - 07:11 am
3
2
Is This A New State Directive?

Are there now policies that the construction of state owned facilities have to be partially paid for by the counties where the construction will take place? Is this the first case of a local contribution being required? Where is the state directive making local contributions a requirement?

In the future, I expect Clarke County to contribute greatly to any new UGA construction…especially their new medical school buildings. Atlanta should ante up for GA Tech or other state building projects, too.

What should be exposed is how Augusta came to believe this misconception that they had to contribute $8 million when other counties in the state have no such obligations for state projects. How did this come about? Whose idea was it?

corgimom
32139
Points
corgimom 02/18/14 - 07:24 am
3
0
Riverman, it's time to buy a

Riverman, it's time to buy a vowel.

"Pat, I'd like to buy an A."

Azziz. There could be no other reason.

nocnoc
42411
Points
nocnoc 02/18/14 - 07:57 am
2
0
While every family has been hit with Cancer at one time or

another and the research is needed.

I have CITY CHARTER issues with using ARC Taxpayer Funds to fund a State College that Augusta has been clearly reminded we have ZERO say in. Plus dealing a Person that just hosed us over with a smoke screen of deceptions.

It even has me seriously wondering if the $$$$ will be transferred in part or whole to other locations outside ARC after he gets it.

Just think ARC donates $8M and GRU can now shift $8M in their budget to other colleges (UGA) to build them up. Maybe to take over move MCG type teaching out of ARC.

Or, the $8M is nothing more than a repackaged bribe to get or help GRU to pay the Mill properties.

Serious when was the last time that TRUSTING President AZZZZZZ, actually paid off?

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 02/18/14 - 07:57 am
1
0
Its called "organized crime". Corruption, money laundering,
Unpublished

Its called "organized crime". Corruption, money laundering,

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 02/18/14 - 07:58 am
1
0
Taxpayer money to hospital to politician's in laws to politician
Unpublished

Taxpayer money to hospital to politician's in laws to politician

nocnoc
42411
Points
nocnoc 02/18/14 - 08:01 am
3
0
OK I'll ask it

Are ARC TAXPAYERS becoming loan officers to a number of Businesses & State funded Colleges.

GOV needs to let businesses be self funded.

ARC already pay taxes for the States College operations, why should ARC get a Double Whammy.

Little Lamb
45808
Points
Little Lamb 02/18/14 - 09:48 am
4
0
BOR

$8 million for the Georgia Board of Regents is merely chump change. For Augusta, it’s real money. And since we don’t have $8 million lying around, they’re planning to borrow it!

That’s irresponsible and borderline lunacy!

Little Lamb
45808
Points
Little Lamb 02/18/14 - 09:49 am
1
0
Crony

I wonder whose bank will get to make the loan?

story1
802
Points
story1 02/18/14 - 09:53 am
4
1
Playing us like a drum....

City leaders are working tax payers like puppets. The last Splost was $160M with a good bit of fluff for outside agencies. Now, they want to narrow to $200M. ~$40M is a ton of money to be misused. Just vote NO on this Splost and send a message.

Bulldog
1321
Points
Bulldog 02/18/14 - 10:45 am
4
1
Too much from too few

I approve of the use of SPLOST funding IN PRINCIPLE, because it shifts the tax burden from property owners to everyone who spends anything. It is obviously a far fairer way to raise funding. However, as always, the devil is in the details. It is glaringly apparent that the last SPLOST is a disaster and now we are being told that we need another to pay for the last one! The commissioners need to get a grasp of reality here! Don't spend it until you actually have it, no matter how the funds are raised.

Little Lamb
45808
Points
Little Lamb 02/18/14 - 10:50 am
1
0
Employees

Can anyone else see some downsides in this:

• A proposal from Augusta Interfaith Coalition Director Christopher Johnson to reduce the number of commissioners and make them full-time employees

If we think commissioners commit mischief on a weekly basis as part-timers, just think of the damage they would do if they were full-timers.

john
977
Points
john 02/18/14 - 10:58 am
1
0
waste

they probably spent that much in the name change(s) and renovating Riki's house.

countyman
20005
Points
countyman 02/18/14 - 11:37 am
2
3
Double standard

Many people shop in Richmond County and the entire CSRA is paying for the RC splost projects.. The $8 million is for the Cancer Center and it will help increase the NIH funds, sales tax revenue, number of researchers, etc... The Augusta National is donating $6 million in order to help construct the Cancer Center..

The citizens of Richmond County can't allow for the residents who live outside the county to create the narrative..

The same people always complain about the TEE Center(approved by the voters), but never bring up the exhibition hall in Grovetown or the convention center opening in North Augusta..

The same people that complained about the baseball stadium/mixed use development going up in downtown Augusta(even though you had national developers included like Jim Jacoby). They don't seem to care if the less exciting project in North Augusta is moving forward..

The same people don't want the city to improve Diamond Lakes, but look at the money spent on Riverview Park in North Augusta..

Nocnoc.. The Mills Campus and the Cancer Center are two different projects..

lgr
207
Points
lgr 02/18/14 - 11:40 am
2
0
splost

some people just want everything to be built else where and they would rejoice in watching Richmond County go down the tubes. splost is a sales tax that everyone pays who shops here. i bet some of these people shop in n augusta or columbia county and help them pay for their projects and they never complain about those.

badmoon426
1172
Points
badmoon426 02/18/14 - 11:44 am
3
0
In the end..,

...when it become the responsibility of local government to fund state projects. Considering how Nathan 'Lets Make A' Deal is willing to make all sorts of Deals to strengthen his campaign after three lackluster corrupt years. Especially Deke Copenhaver endorsed him twice, I just do not understand why Deke Copenhaver doesn't approach the governor for a favor.

Also doesn't GRU have an endowment plus alumni to call upon to make ends meet.

This just gets my conspiracy cap on wondering exactly which receiptent of crony givernment is driving this bit of borrowing and why?

Little Lamb
45808
Points
Little Lamb 02/18/14 - 11:55 am
3
0
Borrowing

This “tax anticipation note” violates the letter and spirit of the SPLOST law. Government is supposed to create a list of proposed projects and allow the voters to approve or reject the list based on how they feel about the projects. By spending money against future SPLOST revenues, they bypass voter approval. It's hard to reject something that is already done.

Little Lamb
45808
Points
Little Lamb 02/18/14 - 12:02 pm
1
0
Not Required

It's worth it to re-read this story:

Money available without city's help

badmoon426
1172
Points
badmoon426 02/18/14 - 12:25 pm
2
0
So is this really...

...another scenario to take taxpayer money and siphon it off as a form of 'giverment' to already wealthy Augusta parasites?

It is amazing their appetites for our money.

WalterBradfordCannon
1442
Points
WalterBradfordCannon 02/18/14 - 12:33 pm
1
2
The state, quite simply, is

The state, quite simply, is reducing its support of education, year after year, and legislature after legislature. State government exists so we have state police, state educational institutions, and state maintained roads. All three of these are under pressure as the predominant feeling in Atlanta is smaller government is better. Smaller government means less police (we are less safe!), less education (our state becomes less competitive over time) and less road maintenance. Stop believing the liars in office and vote in someone who wants to set reasonable standards for education and state government and run the state well.

So what happens at GRU? The institution solicits a large donation specific to cancer research that is contingent on matching funds. GRU cannot get matching funds, because its state funding has been cut, year after year. The hospital's profitability is down because it is an academic hospital, and because it cannot turn away uninsured. The uninsured still exist because Nathan Deal is rejecting key provisions of the Affordable Care Act - he is turning down free money just to spite the POTUS. Azziz is simply trying to get money wherever he can for the benefit of the institution. That is the MOST IMPORTANT MISSION OF THE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT. He has raised more money in donations in 3 years than the previous presidents did in 10. Say what you will about the rest of his job performance, but he is closing deals on donations. Should Richmond County support this effort? That is debatable, but don't impugn Azziz' motives. He is doing his job, raising money.

badmoon426
1172
Points
badmoon426 02/18/14 - 12:34 pm
2
0
If this is...

...allowed to get through the commission none of the commissioners are fit to serve the people of their districts or the Augusta Richmond County.

badmoon426
1172
Points
badmoon426 02/18/14 - 12:44 pm
1
0
This would be an ideal...

...time to reach out to Amgen, Dendreon, Genentech and Genzyme (biotech companies involve in monoclonal antibody research for cancer therapies) to get them involved not only from a money standpoint but from an experience standpoint to really grow the 'high tech' industry in the area.

However, we seem to have small minds fixed only on short term gains. If I was mayor that would be what I was doing instead of trying to start a Jazz Cafe.

Riverman1
83469
Points
Riverman1 02/18/14 - 01:02 pm
3
0
From LL's Link

"However, Susan Barcus, the senior vice president for advancement and community relations and chief development officer for GRU, said “this really isn’t coming from us."

Also, in the story we have Corey Johnson apparently first coming up with the bogus idea that the county had to chip in $8 million.

Again, my simple point is if the new standard for state construction is the county will have to kick in a big contribution, it should be strictly enforced over the entire state from now on. How did Richmond County get so lucky to be first? Or could it be as the state official said in the article that there IS NO SUCH REQUIREMENT?

countyman
20005
Points
countyman 02/18/14 - 01:09 pm
1
2
Reality

The large biotech firms won't come here unless GRU receives the NCI designation and they build a larger cancer center...

The collaboration center on Broad street provides the opportunity for the employers(GRU, Fort Gordon, GA Power, SRS) who are responsible for helping create the private high tech jobs to congregate and share ideas..

Do people honestly realize the amount of private employers the NCI designation will attract?

Why are some posters consistently negative about everything? The same people were complaining about the recent outlet mall(PRIVATE SECTOR).

countyman
20005
Points
countyman 02/18/14 - 01:16 pm
1
3
GRU= jobs, revenue, growth, etc

The city of Athens has directly contributed to the growth of UGA..

The state of Georgia has provided the opportunity for major growth in Augusta over the last few years.. The $112 million Dental school opened back in 2011 and the $76 million Medical Commons is under construction.. The new Cancer Center is another huge project coming soon.

Sweet son
10323
Points
Sweet son 02/18/14 - 01:59 pm
2
0
Notice my Avtar!

I have a close family member who is fighting Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer. She has told me that the current facility does not have adequate space for the treatment of it's patients.

No matter what the funding program turns out to be the new center MUST be built.

Riverman1
83469
Points
Riverman1 02/18/14 - 02:04 pm
2
0
What Was That?

"The city of Athens has directly contributed to the growth of UGA.."

The city of Athens HAD to make a large contribution in order for something to be built at UGA?

dichotomy
32712
Points
dichotomy 02/18/14 - 05:52 pm
2
1
With the money we've borrowed

With the money we've borrowed on the next SPLOST to finish the Marble Palace and now with the "tax anticipation loan", whatever the hell that is, for the cancer center.....as far as I am concerned the list for the next SPLOST is complete. Close the list and let's vote because I'm not even sure you are going to get those things. The "city" is playing fast and loose with SPLOST money and exceeding their spending authority. How the hell do you spend "optional" tax money before we have approved it? It's time to send them a message and reel them in a little. Vote NO on SPLOST until our representatives learn to play by the rules.

Riverman1
83469
Points
Riverman1 02/18/14 - 02:17 pm
2
0
Have To Feel Sorry For Them

I'm going to feel sorry for anyone who hangs out at the Jazz Café all day drinking, thinking he is going to get some kind of business going.

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