Augusta groups vow to carry on without sales tax package

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 9:32 PM
Last updated Thursday, May 22, 2014 12:35 AM
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The Imperial Theatre will “go back to the drawing board” and continue to seek funds from individual, corporate and foundation donors in light of Tuesday’s failed vote on the latest special purpose local option sales tax, its executive director said.

By a slim 664-vote margin, Augusta voters rejected the $194 million tax package, which included $6 million to make further improvements at the 96-year-old theater.

Charles Scavullo said he didn’t credit SPLOST opponents for the referendum’s failure, but instead the sales package itself.

“It should have been able to stand on its own two feet,” he said. “It should have been constructed to meet the needs of the broader community.”

Fortunately for the theater, it has $1 million left from SPLOST 6 it can use to complete immediate infrastructure needs, including work on fire escapes, repainting and electrical upgrades.

The SPLOST 7 allocation plus a few million more would have enabled the theater to complete all the work it has planned, he said.

“Eight to $9 million would enable the Imperial to totally finish the venue of the theater up completely,” Scavullo said. “It’s still the challenge we’ll face, but one way or another we’ll get it done.”
Similarly, Symphony Orchestra Augusta will continue raising funds to complete plans to renovate the nearby Miller Theater, which had $4.25 million in the sales tax package.

“We’ll still complete this project,” said Executive Director Mieko DiSano. “It’s an extremely viable project that already has many supporters, and we’ve already raised a significant number of dollars.”

DiSano said the organization was disappointed the sales package didn’t pass, but will carry on.

“We have a great sector of the community that’s extremely dedicated to Augusta and Augusta’s success,” she said. “It’s just unfortunate that in our own community, our own citizens don’t want to help ourselves.”

Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle, a SPLOST 7 proponent, said he was disappointed and blamed himself for the tax package’s failure.

“I blame myself for not reaching out to the constituents and explaining it better,” Guilfoyle said.

Cutting funding to agencies “stops the momentum” of groups such as Augusta Canal Authority, which claimed a seven-to-one return using SPLOST funds as leverage for other grants, he said.

Commissioner Donnie Smith said he thought recent shootings at Paine College, another beneficiary of the tax package, might have dampened public enthusiasm, as did misunderstandings about Augusta Regional Collaboration’s plans to spend $5.25 million in SPLOST 7 dollars on a “mills campus” proposal to accommodate Georgia Regents University.

Smith said he expects someone to fulfill a GRUdeadline to complete dormitories by fall 2016, but was unaware if the university had interest in using the mills.

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Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 05/21/14 - 10:29 pm
6
0
Cry me a river
Unpublished

Let the pity party begin. Here's some advice. Do your own fundraising and stop expecting Augusta's taxpayers fun all your pet projects.

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 05/21/14 - 10:34 pm
9
1
Cry me a river
Unpublished

Let the pity party begin. Here's some advice. Do your own fundraising and stop expecting Augusta's taxpayers to fund all your pet projects. As for the Miller Theater, taxpayers have been more than generous. they got $6 million from the last SPLOST. The Imperial has gotten $millions of SPLOST over the years and what do they have to show for it? Every time they come back for more and more, but what can they show for the money they have already been given. Commissioners should depend a full audit of all of the SPLOST monies given to these outside agencies and groups.

Riverman1
84110
Points
Riverman1 05/22/14 - 05:30 am
7
1
Simple Question

"Smith said he expects someone to fulfill a GRUdeadline to complete dormitories by fall 2016, but was unaware if the university had interest in using the mills."

If the Commission doesn't know if GRU has interest in the mills, why in the world would the city give Matt K $5.2 million for a mills campus "proposal?" How much is he being paid for his work? Simple question that no one can or will answer.

pja5529
1917
Points
pja5529 05/22/14 - 08:18 am
5
0
Mills

From what I've read and from the people I've talked too, the ideal situation would be for GRU to use the mills but the mills are going to be revitalized so that ANY business or entity could use them even if GRU decides not to. However my question is does the city even own the mills?

story1
802
Points
story1 05/22/14 - 09:07 am
7
0
Now Is The Time

to do a complete audit of ALL past Splost recipients. Weed out the agencies that Splost money has mysteriously disappeared. The general public will feel better about voting Yes next time around if steps like this are taken.

pja5529
1917
Points
pja5529 05/22/14 - 09:18 am
1
7
Audits

Audits are already done on SPLOST every year.

story1
802
Points
story1 05/22/14 - 09:30 am
7
1
Yea, Right.

Good response from folks that do not want the subject of "Splost Audit" discussed.

jimmymac
39881
Points
jimmymac 05/22/14 - 09:36 am
1
0
SPLOST
Unpublished

Congratulations to all who voted against the SPLOST boondoggle. Dems never saw a tax they didn't like.

Riverman1
84110
Points
Riverman1 05/22/14 - 11:06 am
6
0
We Need Disclosure on the Mills

PJA, you may be absolutely right about the plans for the mills, but all this is not being explained to the Commission or the public. EVERYTHING that's come out has been after people started complaining about the lack of information. It's a project that will be largely paid for by the county and the county should control how the money is spent. We shouldn't have to depend on what people have heard for information. Donnie Smith obviously doesn't know what the plans are either. I suspect few Commissioners do.

pja5529
1917
Points
pja5529 05/22/14 - 11:07 am
1
3
Are you talking about me?

Why wouldn't I want it discussed? Have you contacted anyone to try to obtain copies of the annual audit or are you just assuming that one isn't done?

pja5529
1917
Points
pja5529 05/22/14 - 11:13 am
3
1
Riverman

I agree about us needing disclosure and in fact people mentioned not voting for the SPLOST package because of the lack of disclosure from the commission about where exactly all of this money was going since in some cases the money was categorized broadly. I also believe that the city has still not gotten over the whole GRU name debacle so the citizens are naturally hesitant about giving any money to any project associated with GRU.

Riverman1
84110
Points
Riverman1 05/22/14 - 11:22 am
6
0
Dealing With GRU

PJA, heck, if this is some kind of dealing with GRU, I'd like to have the new Mayor and Commission with Hasan, who will probably win the run-off, on board. I believe they will drive a much tougher bargain than Deke trying to keep his Rasputin happy.

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 05/22/14 - 02:20 pm
8
0
Missing $150,000
Unpublished

Anyone remember the $150,000 that went missing from The Imperial box office several years back? Even though there was strong circumstantial evidence pointing to the culprit, the Imperial Board of Directors just swept it under the rug and did not pursue charges. Now how much SPLOST money have they gotten over the years? I'm sorry, but any organization that can allow $150,000 to just disappear like that and do nothing about it does not deserve to get one more penny of sales tax money.

Conservative Man
5564
Points
Conservative Man 05/22/14 - 02:41 pm
6
0
Ha!!..

..Donnie Smith thinks the shootings at Paine might have influenced the voters?…interesting since the vote tallies clearly show the "hill" and the whiter, more moneyed sections of town voted overwhelmingly FOR it..

With Commissioner Smith's recent petulant childish antics in Commission two weeks ago and obviously uninformed statements such as these I'm sure there are many voters in District 7 who are starting to look for someone else to fill that seat…

Hopefully they will succeed in 2016.

story1
802
Points
story1 05/22/14 - 02:53 pm
2
0
150K Missing

If this was Splost Money how come no investigation?

Ray Marks
48
Points
Ray Marks 05/22/14 - 03:23 pm
5
0
No Audits are or have been done

pja5529

There are not audits done every year on SPLOST money usage. There is a "report" published every year as required by Georia law.

A report and an audit are not the same thing ...

nocnoc
42692
Points
nocnoc 05/22/14 - 04:14 pm
5
0
S7 died because it was filled to the rim with handouts

While Mr. Scavullo won't credit the efforts of the S7 opponents for the referendum’s failure, but at least he somewhat admits it was so bad it could not stand without a massive sales job.

Either way I am glad those that originally were willing to accept easy low hanging fruit, will now have to work for it. Because People that earn what they get, appreciate what they earn even more.

nocnoc
42692
Points
nocnoc 05/22/14 - 04:56 pm
5
0
BTW: IT IS VERY INTERESTING TO NOTE

A lot S7 SIG's somehow have managed to get by without their
hands in AVERAGE JOE TAXPAYERS POCKET.

Why didn't they do this to begin with?

yaqov777
26
Points
yaqov777 05/23/14 - 09:18 am
1
0
Oh God..

cry me a river, DiSano. Here's an idea. How about do some work and raise your own funds instead of forcing others to pay your bills. It never ceases to amaze me how people believe they are somehow entitled to a single penny of the money that I earn. If I go out and work a full time job to care for the needs of my family, exactly how much of that do you believe belongs to you?

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