Adding insult to injury

Proposed tax to fund downtown safety plan is too burdensome

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On May 3, a couple was brutally beaten with a metal bat on Augusta’s Riverwalk. The savage attack shocked the city.

But now Augusta officials want to turn around and take a club to downtown property owners.

The sheriff and city administrator have put forth a plan to tax downtown property owners for stepped-up law enforcement.

What an incredible insult. They want to tax the very business people and property owners who are hurt the most by downtown crime?

More than that, it’s a horrible precedent. Is there any other area of the city that is asked to pay more for law enforcement?

If the city needs more money to make downtown safer – which is, after all, a good part of the city’s job – then levy a tax on all taxpayers. Making the Riverwalk or any area of the city safer benefits the entire populace. Taxing one segment of the population to get it done is a reprehensible idea.

And, again, what a dreadful precedent. Should we also charge other problem areas higher taxes for police protection? Do we really want to go down that road?

Downtown property owners only recently managed to end a voluntary tax they had graciously put on themselves for increased cleanup, maintenance and security. They ended it because the program didn’t live up to its promise, and ended up being just another tax.

This is no time to try to burden them again.

Besides, higher taxes, in our view, would be most counterproductive in fighting crime.

That’s because the long-term answer to making Riverwalk and nearby downtown destinations safer is to draw more people there. There is safety in numbers. Had the Riverwalk had the vitality of riverside attractions in cities such as Savannah and Greenville, S.C., it’s doubtful such a brazen attack as the May 3 one would even be attempted.

We need more people living downtown, and particularly along the riverfront – which is arguably blighted. Higher taxes is no way to lure them there.

The safety plan put forth also recommends closing Riverwalk in the wee hours – from 11 p.m. to sunrise (we would suggest midnight might be better). One supposes such a move might help. Still, it does feel an awful lot like surrender.

Chasing law-abiding citizens away at night – and, worse, hitting some of them over the head with higher taxes – is a pretty odd way of fighting crime.

It’s more like adding insult to injury.

Comments (16) Add comment
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Riverman1
82249
Points
Riverman1 07/11/13 - 04:42 am
7
1
To Be Fair

The problem is we expect a higher level of police protection on the Riverwalk and downtown. There are other areas that have higher crime, but they don’t have increased law enforcement. It comes down to whether an area should pay more for increased police protection…if it wants it.

The mall even with its many tax generating businesses certainly does pay for their security to a large degree. They maintain a large privately paid force. The new hotel complex on Stevens Creek road pays off duty officers for a presence and that area generates more visitors and taxes than the hotels downtown. In my opinion, the Marriott should also provide security on the Riverwalk. The same with the merchants on Broad St.

myfather15
54360
Points
myfather15 07/11/13 - 06:30 am
3
5
I agree with Riverman

Even some supermarket's pay off duty deputies to sit in their parking lots at night, for added protection!! Now, they do this of their own choice, so it shouldn't be forced on anyone! But with the Sheriff's Office and County, there of course is a budget. They have furloughed County deputies and fireman, so do you think they BELIEVE they can afford overtime or added pay for security downtown?

It all goes back to the old saying, "you can please some of the people all the time, but you will never please all of the people, even some of the time".

If the S.O takes the Crime Supression team who are on regular duty, and places all or most of them downtown, the residents of other areas are going to complain!! So you would need to bring in off-duty deputies who are willing and want to make extra pay for their families. Many deputies are more than willing because they are trying to provide for their families. But this costs lots of money!! They've got to find a way without FORCING more taxes on people!! Any ideas?

seenitB4
85384
Points
seenitB4 07/11/13 - 06:43 am
4
3
Well golly gee--more people huh

Well why not hog tie a few from south Augusta & take them downtown..take dichotomy first why doncha...

This is funny...broken record funny....let me see now--more folks in the tee...more folks living on the banks---more feet on the ground on Broad....we will force you if you don't come...

Give it a break,....if they WANTED to live in downtown THEY would be there already......why is downtown any different from major stores furnishing security......mall with extra security.....and neighborhoods with security & gates...

seenitB4
85384
Points
seenitB4 07/11/13 - 06:47 am
5
0
BTW

Atlanta is loaded with people but the crime has sky rocketed....so much for boots on the ground.

adding insult to injury statement hehehe....that happens to south Augusta all the time..heh

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7387
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 07/11/13 - 07:23 am
9
0
TAX

OK then by the reasoning of some people here, let's increase the tax on Section 8 Properties. Those are drawing most of the resources. Who says they have to put the entire traffic division or crime suppression team downtown. Strategic rotation of a few members from each team through that area will suffice. People, get out of your shoebox.. Haven't you heard of scheduling. It can be worked with the current staffing, just by using common sense and a little creativity in scheduling. As for the maintenance, I still believe some department heads, supervisors and employees should have to answer for their failure to do their jobs. The ARC is famous for building and getting great things, but, they've also become famous for not maintaining what they have. If you look at Greenville, Savannah, Myrtle Beach, Jekyll Island, San Antonio and anywhere else, you'll notice one thing, MAINTENANCE! It's constantly done and kept up so that it's not a huge one time expense but a steady and predictable operating cost. If I ran my business the way ARC does, I would have been bankrupt 15 years ago!!!

Bizkit
30698
Points
Bizkit 07/11/13 - 08:16 am
7
1
A simpler solution is to have

A simpler solution is to have a sign to tell people only walk on Riverwalk late at night packin' heat in Charles Bronson fashion. Oh wait if that couple that was beat with a bat had protected themselves with a weapon-then we would have another Martin-Zimmerman like case and the community would be outraged. You just can't win. I know add to the sign carry some video equipment to tape the beating and then popin' a cap in em. Oh wait if the couple had protected themselves then now they would be in jail and likely serving time. You just can't win.

RMSHEFF
15748
Points
RMSHEFF 07/11/13 - 09:05 am
8
1
The Government never misses

The Government never misses an opportunity to punish those who actually pay the bills....the taxpayers! Is it any wonder why they have such a hard time bringing new businesses downtown ! We have a big LEADERSHIP void in Augusta. Would it be ok to increase taxes on high crime neighborhoods to help offset their high law enforcement cost ? Oh...I forgot ...most of the high crime neighborhood are owned by the Government.

deestafford
26316
Points
deestafford 07/11/13 - 09:37 am
1
2
I don't know if this will work or not but could

the situation be helped by training some local folks to be unpaid volunteers to patrol the area? They would be trained by the sheriff, uniformed and armed. It's obvious that our law enforcement's plate is already full and they are short handed as it is. I'm now sure scheduling will help because as MF says you take officers from one area to cover this area.

Of course, if we are able to tear down the levee and put businesses, restaurants or whatever down there the area would be lighted and the problem will most likely go away.

allhans
23531
Points
allhans 07/11/13 - 10:01 am
5
0
How about a sign saying

How about a sign saying "enter at own risk". (:

linnie baynham
9
Points
linnie baynham 07/11/13 - 10:45 am
5
0
Regarding Adding Insult to Injury

I wholeheartedly agree with everything except your remarks regarding the “safety plan” … closing the Riverwalk from 5th to 9th streets at any time is taking away my rights as a homeowner. My home is in the Riverplace at Port Royal Condominiums, and the very area being targeted for closure is my own “front yard” and I have the right to be there any time I wish. I’m not foolish, and have no intent or plan to stroll the Riverwalk at say, 3AM. But, if for some idiotic reason I decide I want to, then that’s my right. Absolutely no closures!

RMSHEFF
15748
Points
RMSHEFF 07/11/13 - 11:15 am
4
0
baynham

You are correct. To close this area is surrendering and conceding control to the criminal element. This area belongs to us and not the criminals. This is like saying we cannot control crime in this area, not unlike many US border areas that the Federal government tells Americans not to go.

llewallen
72
Points
llewallen 07/11/13 - 11:45 am
4
1
North Augusta

Do they have this kind of problem on thier side of the river? What are they doing differently?

dichotomy
32062
Points
dichotomy 07/11/13 - 11:47 am
5
1
"..take dichotomy first why

"..take dichotomy first why doncha..."

You don't want to do that. One Zimmerman trial is enough and I don't want a ride on the same railroad he is getting....with the Judge tooting the whistle and the Dept. of Justice organizing the necktie party. I'll just stay right here on the free fire zone and walk my random armed patrols at night. I won't go looking for them, but if they are feeling froggy I'm just like the Price Is Right.......Come On Down.

"I would have been bankrupt 15 years ago!!!"

Not if you had the POWER to TAX more and more and more like they do. And, after 17 years, we are STILL almost bankrupt. When you have to furlough people who provide emergency services, you are bankrupt......regardless of what Fred says. You are spending more than you are taking in........that's bankrupt. You are renovating buildings on borrowed money...that has not even been approved by the voters.....that's bankrupt.

They almost got us max'd out on property taxes....which is why they invented the SCHEME of SPLOST.....and now they have SPLOST'ed us until the last SPLOST initiative revenues are "below expectation" because they have driven many of us to shop elsewhere.....OUT OF SPITE. And look at all of the DEBT they have obligated us to based on still uncollected, and NOW EVEN UNAPPROVED, SPLOST money. AND FOR WHAT? Are you feeling it? I'm certainly not feeling ANY positive effect from 17 years of wasting my tax money....my REAL tax money....PLUS my bogus fake issue "SPLOST" money. I've still got the same muddy ditch beside the same pothole filled road, with LESS fire, police, and ambulance protection, and paying 3 times (adjusted for inflation) what I was for trash collection when I move here 23 years ago. And just of good measure, they have run off all of the retail shopping and restaurants with their "less protection", "less service" and Section 8 undesirable relocation policies. Maybe the downtown looks better.....but I DON'T LIVE DOWNTOWN. I merely PAY FOR OTHER PEOPLE TO LIVE DOWNTOWN.....AND THEIR SERVICES.

Speaking of that, where are the hard hitting investigative Chronicle reports on EQUALIZATION OF PROPERTY TAXES....AND.....EQUALIZTION OF PROPERTY VALUATIONS....AND....EQUALIZATION OF FEES FOR COUNTY SERVICES LIKE GARBAGE AND STREET LIGHTS. Where are our Commissioners.....ort overpaid Department heads, our overpaid Legal Department.......are they still hiding in the corner and claiming they are too stupid to figure out how to TAX everyone EQUALLY.

Of course I do see their problem. It' hard to come up with an EQUAL system and still have the rural and suburban property owners SUBSIDIZING the services for DOWNTOWN property owners. I see their dilemma. BUT....it can be done because they already have plans to accomplish that objective with the RAIN TAX. The rural and suburban property owners will be paying to replace the ACTUAL, REAL drainage system, mostly in the "old city". You know.....where they have pipes in the ground instead of sediment filled, overgrown, hazardous ditches like you have.....pipes and right-of-way leveled to the road like you who will be paying for it WILL NEVER SEE in front of YOUR property.

corgimom
31170
Points
corgimom 07/11/13 - 02:36 pm
6
1
"What are they doing

"What are they doing differently?"

The city leaders, long ago, publically said "We see the problems in Augusta and we don't want to be another Augusta." The police force there is very proactive and so is the district attorney in prosecution.

They also don't have a bus system, with a bus system you get lots and lots of Section 8 and the corresponding criminals. Nor do they have a lot of goverment housing.

They also have better schools, a higher education level, and higher average and per capita income.

They also don't have a big predominately black area of town, and their riverfront, for the most part, has high-income housing.

The government there is more interested in quality of life issues and so are their residents. They are supportive of the police.

You also don't have a bunch of bar owners and restaurant owners in NA that protest a strong police presence because it cuts down on their income.

You drive through NA, it's beautiful and clean, very attractive, and then you come over the bridge, and the difference is stunning. You drive into Georgia into a seedy, rundown, disheveled downtown.

And that's why people are flocking to NA.

corgimom
31170
Points
corgimom 07/11/13 - 02:38 pm
5
4
"and the very area being

"and the very area being targeted for closure is my own “front yard” and I have the right to be there any time I wish. "

No, the residents of Port Royal do not own the Riverwalk, and no, it is not their front yard, and no, closing it does not infringe on their rights as a property owner. What an arrogant thing to say.

augusta citizen
9111
Points
augusta citizen 07/11/13 - 04:30 pm
2
2
rights and freedoms

linnie, you are, I assume an adult and saying that, you have the right to go anywhere, anytime you want, and I support that right. Corgimom, I see your point too, if I personally owned the Riverwalk, I would be closing it and putting up the sign that allhans suggested, "enter at your own risk", knowing that when something goes wrong there, I would be held accountable. I don't want to infringe on anyone's rights BUT I wouldn't want the liability of being responsible when someone assumed it was safe and it didn't turn out to be. This is a stumper, I guess the thing should just be closed down, I don't know.

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