Plan to privatize Augusta transit finalized

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The Augusta Commission finalized plans to turn over management of Augusta Public Transit to a private company, marking the end of city employment for about 70 bus drivers and other transit personnel.

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Lynn Bailey, the executive director of the Richmond County Board of Elections, talks with the Augusta Commission. The meeting discussed redistricting and management of the Patch.  Corey Perrine/Staff
Corey Perrine/Staff
Lynn Bailey, the executive director of the Richmond County Board of Elections, talks with the Augusta Commission. The meeting discussed redistricting and management of the Patch.

The commission also appeared to resolve an ongoing issue involving its meeting place by requesting a judge designate the municipal building as a "courthouse annex."

Kevin Adams, the founder of Mobility Transit, said bus employees should expect to see the firm's general manager at Augusta Public Transit by June 15 as Mobility begins a 45-day transition of the service. Riders should not expect any changes during the transition period, he said.

Under the terms of the agreement, most transit employees must be kept on with the company for the first two years of a five-year contract. The plan is supposed to save the city $400,000 a year from the $5 million cost of the service, which is only partially subsidized by bus fares.

In a 6-3 vote, the commission OK'd the agreement with Mobility. Commissioners Bill Lockett, Alvin Mason and Corey Johnson voted against it. Commissioner Johnny Hatney was absent.

Lockett reiterated concerns that the city really hadn't done enough in recent years to form an adequate basis for comparing savings. Johnson again cited Athens, Ga., as a city that later opted out of private bus management, asking why a consultant couldn't be used to improve the service in-house.

Commissioner Joe Bowles said the two-year guarantee for current employees "hamstrings" Mobility.

In other business, two commissioners who previously have objected to efforts to amend the charter or otherwise remedy a legal requirement that the commission meet monthly "at the courthouse" joined their counterparts in approving, 8-1, a motion asking a judge to designate the municipal building a "courthouse annex."

Johnson and Lockett joined six other commissioners in approving Commissioner Jerry Brigham's motion to ask Chief Superior Court Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet to supplement his previous order designating the new Augusta Judicial Building as "the courthouse" with an order designating the municipal building as an annex.

The measure, which Mason opposed, provides a suitable backup plan for occasional court overflow into a new commission chamber being designed, City Administrator Fred Russell said.

Taking place during the commission's first regular monthly meeting, the action comes just in time for the body to avoid being in conflict with the charter, said General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie.

Augusta Municipal Golf Course

On Tuesday, the commission authorized “tasking” the administrator and the recreation department with negotiating a package deal involving Affiniti Partners, First Tee of Augusta and The Patch in Augusta LLC to manage the municipal golf course. The course, budgeted to turn a profit or at least break even, has shown annual losses of more than $100,000 for the past few years.

Russell has said he was not sure whether The Patch in Augusta LLC was interested in doing anything with the course besides the lease proposal the firm twice has submitted in response to  the city’s request for proposals.

Affiniti, which did not respond to the request for proposals but  wrote a study recommending  changes be made at the course, including that a management firm be hired, manages Forest Hills Golf Club.
– Susan McCord, staff writer

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countyman
20127
Points
countyman 06/07/11 - 08:25 pm
0
0
Hopefully the private company

Hopefully the private company will help improve the bus system.. Please display the times and routes somewhere the local public can view. Actually let public know the city already installed bike racks on the buses.. They also must add extra buses and new destinations including the airport..

I'm happy the courthouse issue is dissolved and we can finally move on.. The chronicle kept making the issue a bigger deal than it actually was.

tckr1983
360
Points
tckr1983 06/07/11 - 08:55 pm
0
0
No countyman. It was a big

No countyman. It was a big issue. Our commission is a joke... to the point that I feel like we've landed on the moon... only to agree on where to meet so they can DO THEIR JOB. The commissions approval rating is probably hovering somewhere around the U.S. Congress' level... not good.

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 06/07/11 - 09:15 pm
0
0
All you want to know about

All you want to know about Augusta Transit has always been available @ http://www.augustaga.gov/index.aspx?NID=232

This includes a brochure, maps of routes, fares, etc.

countyman
20127
Points
countyman 06/07/11 - 09:45 pm
0
0
Tckr1983... I know for a fact

Tckr1983... I know for a fact Joe Bowles, Corey Johnson, and Alvin Mason would easily win the district again. I'm not a big fan of JR Hatney or Don Gratham.. But I bet the majority of people living in those districts are happy with their current commissioner. People living in Columbia County, etc don't get to see what the commisioners do on a daily basis.. Matt Aikten with the help of other's recently through a huge block party for District 1. Bringing the residents of Olde Town and East Augusta together..

The chronicle doesn't explain the entire story to the public.. They never mention 'where to meet' wasn't actually the hold up. The main issue in the amendment was addressing the administrator's offiice and duties. Bill Lockett and other's only wanted to deal with the courthouse meeting and the administrators duties seperate...

People seem to forget the city tried to change the charter with 6 votes.. Several lawyers have said it may actually take 8 and not 6.. Let's not act like commissioneer lockett, mason, and johnson don't have legitimate reason why they vote a certain way..

countyman
20127
Points
countyman 06/07/11 - 09:42 pm
0
0
No Longer Amazed.. I meant

No Longer Amazed.. I meant the routes, times, etc should also be posted at the local bus stops...

tckr1983
360
Points
tckr1983 06/07/11 - 10:19 pm
0
0
County- I know you love

County-

I know you love Augusta, I do too. But come on man... the commission is a joke and an embarrassment to the city more often than it should be. I've read articles stating as such that the reason certain people voted no was for the reasons you gave... Problem is, there are i'm sure plenty of other things that have been voted on before as a combined vote... first thing that comes to mind is the vote on the Tee Center and Laney Walker/Bethlehem... that 100M dollar deal wasn't separate. No... this was all about POWER within the city and the commissioners not wanting to lose it, not one stinking ounce. It wreaks of political grandstanding and hardly about personal/moral voting procedures. I'm all for Augusta getting to that next tier... I'd bet my life on it not happening with this group.

countyman
20127
Points
countyman 06/07/11 - 10:59 pm
0
0
Tckr1983.. I've said on here

Tckr1983.. I've said on here before I'm not a huge fan of certain commissioneers.. We do need more people under the age of 40 to run the next time around. I'm just saying I bet Alvin Mason, Joe Bowles, and Corey Johnson would win easily at the moment. Some people are happy with the person they voted for..

Jason.. The Chronicle repeatedly told us what a great commissioner Corey Johnson was during the election... The chronicle definitely couldn't stand to have Marion Williams winning District 2 again... Now all of a sudden in 2011 the editorials are blaming Corey Johnson and other black commissioners for stopping progress. Because they voted no in the previous weeks..

How did Corey Johnson lose the traits you said made him a great person to lead District 2 in less than one year?? Corey Johnson didn't lose his good judgement he just doesn't agree with the editorial staff at the Chronicle..

Jason Wermers
3
Points
Jason Wermers 06/07/11 - 10:56 pm
0
0
Countyman, all I have to say

Countyman, all I have to say in response to that is: The newsroom and editorial page are two separate operations, producing their content independently of each other and without collaborating with each other.

tckr1983
360
Points
tckr1983 06/07/11 - 11:49 pm
0
0
Turning this into a race

Turning this into a race thing is the last thing that needs to happen. Common sense just needs to be applied with taxpayer time and money... there is a gap between Augustans and their mayor/city administrator/commission. They need to do a better job of getting their positions across to their constituents and explain their projects/deals before their implemented or even brought up for debate in the "annex". In such a way that shows taxpayers in print that they have nothing to worry about, we're going to do this the right way with your money. Interviews, self-written articles in the paper, biweekly community town hall meetings, etc. It needs to happen to bring this area together. I have no doubts that if done RIGHT, the mixed-use/baseball complex (or any other project/idea) could be built to benefit all and not come across to some as another opportunity to build something on the back of the taxpayers. On the news the other day the mayor and Matt Aitken said in regards to the mixed-use facility it's time to "get something done"... what does that mean? SHOW ME, US, EVERYONE exactly what that means, especially when the city is in the red. Make it painfully clear for everyone what's going to happen, leaving no rock unturned and people might be more inclined to get behind an opportunity on the river... which is GROSSLY underdeveloped.

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
Points
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 06/08/11 - 09:55 am
0
0
Looks like they are moving on

Looks like they are moving on from this. Carlisle is a very wise man and i'm sure now that they have tossed the ball to him we can get back into the game...-smile-

rickkilpatrick
0
Points
rickkilpatrick 06/08/11 - 10:08 am
0
0
As expected Lockett has not

As expected Lockett has not performed his due diligence or is being deceiptful. The Athens bus service is supported by mandatory student fees (30,000 plus students) from UGA. It is very likely the Athens bus service is profitable because of those fees. You cannot compare apples to oranges.

Curlie56
9
Points
Curlie56 06/08/11 - 04:47 pm
0
0
It appears to me that the

It appears to me that the commission is adding to the city's money woes through unemployment of many employees of the Richmond County Government. All of this to get their ball parks and pay some of these big fines they have received through mishandling of funds.

Stand up Augusta Richmond County Employees and get legal representation as well as form a classaction against all of this stealing and forcing employees to pay money from their checks to cover money that they have mishandled..not the employees, but the commission!

I want GOD to come through Augusta and clean this local government completely out! Wow, this is just crime at its' best! People stand up for yourselves, My gracious! Why is Hatney always running away? The only one I totally respect up there is Lockett..at least he stands for a purpose without wavering and not just trying to pad a resume!

Curlie56
9
Points
Curlie56 06/08/11 - 05:01 pm
0
0
Why is it that the

Why is it that the departments being "restructured" with Richmond County hold predominately black employees? Public works, recreation, transit and now the Patch (golf course)! umumum.

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