Candidates want infrastructure, attention for District 2

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The Augusta Commission District 2 election pits a longtime local businessman and pastor against a former branch president of the Augusta NAACP.

Tax records show Cleveland Gar­rison’s Kingdom Full Gospel Church owes more than $5,000 in property taxes on the church-owned Norfolk Street property, valued at $400,000 on city tax rolls.

Garrison said that’s from a mistake his attorney, Randy Frails, made that should be cleared up soon.

Kingdom acquired the former South­side Baptist Church in 1999, then sold it in 2009 to Kaleo Ministry, which made off with church fixtures when foreclosure proceedings began.

Kingdom got the church back and is holding services, but “the lawyer misfiled the paperwork,” Garrison said. A copy of the church’s 501(c)3 form should have the matter resolved soon, he said.

It’s not the first financial issue Gar­rison and his church have run into. Court judgments and garnishments pepper the record, but most appear to have been paid and canceled.

“Being in business, you’re going to have that,” said Garrison, who’s also worked for years in welding and ornamental iron. He’s installed security bars on windows across the city, and the ironwork around the federal courthouse.

Garrison said it’s important that contracting work stays local, a sentiment shared by several contractors on the commission.

“That’s a must because when the work stays local, the dollars stay local and the revenue doesn’t go out of Augusta,” he said.

Residents of District 2, which includes Hyde Park, Southgate and Daniel Field, continue to “feel like they’ve been neglected,” despite its current commissioner, Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson, doing the best he could, Garrison said.

“Most of the time when people are having problems, they come to me,” Garrison said. Unlike some on the commission, he said, he refuses to argue.

“You’ve got to respect people’s feelings at all times,” Garrison said.

His rival for the seat, Den­­­nis Williams, is a retired linen services manager for the Veterans Administration who led the Augusta NAACP from 1988 to 1994.

His VA career took him to Queens, N.Y., and while he continued to visit several times a year, Williams didn’t return permanently to Au­gus­ta and District 2 until 2011.

Williams speaks of the whole city “getting along and working for the common good” if he’s elected
May 20.

Like Garrison, Williams said the district suffers from neglected infrastructure that is unlikely to inspire public confidence in any
increase in taxes or fees, such as the proposed stormwater fee.

“The people don’t want to pay more money or taxes when they’re not getting what they’re paying for now,” Williams said.

He said his record doesn’t include any serious financial missteps, but he didn’t condemn his opponent for potentially having them.

“Things happen,” he said. “It takes you years to build up a good credit rating, but it could be ruined just by making a bad investment.”

Besides maintenance, other issues he hopes to help the commission address include bringing more jobs to south Augusta and revamping the proposed special purpose local option sales tax package, which neither he nor Garrison support. He feels priority infrastructure projects ought to be fully funded by the penny tax and completed, rather than partially funded without sufficient funds to finish them.

Williams has the backing of Super District 9 Com­mis­sion­er Marion Williams – no relation – who previously represented the area and is campaigning vigorously for him.

Marion Williams said Den­nis Williams won his favor by attending commission meetings and other events. The district, like District 1, suffers most from blight and neglect by property owners, he said.

“We let people get away with things we don’t in other districts,” Marion Williams said.

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avidreader 05/09/14 - 05:21 am

Good luck District 2. If Marion is supporting Dennis then there are problems a-brewin'.

ColCo 05/09/14 - 05:35 am
What do the districts pay?

It would be interesting to see exactly what each commission district contributes to the tax base each year versus what is spent in each district. The tax commissioner claims he can't, more likely is afraid to, produce the figures by commission district.

Truth Matters
Truth Matters 05/09/14 - 06:18 am
"It would be interesting to

"It would be interesting to see exactly what each commission district contributes to the tax base each year versus what is spent in each district."

Are you advocating that dollars spent in a district be matched $ for $ based on property tax paid from a given district?

People do pay taxes other than property. There are a lot of renters in high end areas who do not pay property tax on their apartments or assisted living facility but still contribute to the overall economics of the area.

JRC2024 05/09/14 - 08:16 am
TM, the people living in the

TM, the people living in the high end apartments and houses do pay the property tax of the owners. It is always included in the overall projected cost of maintaining the property and is then added into the rent payment. You are misinformed if you think not.
Blighted properties should be torn down AT THE OWNERS EXPENSE and property owners who do not pay their taxes should have liens placed on them and then taken to court to get a judgement and then start the garnishment process on the pay checks. They should not get off free. That goes for the lower class and higher class homes. in all areas.

itsanotherday1 05/09/14 - 08:59 am
I found this line interesting

"Garrison said it’s important that contracting work stays local, a sentiment shared by several contractors on the commission."

As a tiebreaker, I will agree. However, if you can get equal or better quality work done for a lower price, you do it for the interests of the taxpayers.

Clearly, there is a crossover point where keeping the money local has greater impact than cost savings, but a general policy to only use local contractors is bad business.

Riverman1 05/09/14 - 09:56 am
Taxes By District

"It would be interesting to see exactly what each commission district contributes to the tax base each year versus what is spent in each district."

Yeah, that would be something.

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