Augusta Commissioner Marion Williams’ proposal to require city employees to live where they work has merit, and when looked at with eyes of fairness and parity it has the potential to boost Augusta’s tax base and improve the community.
You point out that the state prohibits residency requirements for city employees, but the state needs to reconsider. Georgia has had many laws that have been amended, repealed or abolished that no longer apply. Let’s look at some “compelling governmental reasons” such as absentee slumlords and abandoned-building owners who owe a lot more than the commissioner in unpaid taxes. Are they even trying to pay them?
Figure this: If Augusta public safety personnel as well as city employees, the high-tax-dollar people, were required to live in the city, it would have an immediate impact on crime and eyesore properties. Those who refuse to live where they work may find employment elsewhere. Their choice.
Those wanting better schools and safer environments must create them. And they will, improving the quality of life for all. Requests for improvements would grow the economy, provide jobs and promote the general welfare. Isn’t that what we are supposed to be about?
The black population makes up half of Augusta, but makes up a much lower percentage of high-tax-dollar earners. They welcome more opportunity. Your alleging of decreased quality in services is a myth. City residents are more than capable of providing excellent work, and they will only improve if what Mr. Williams is proposing becomes law.
When so-called carpetbaggers came from outside to help people learn to read and write, among other things, residents cried then that they were more qualified to do what was needed. Qualifications and capabilities never were the real problems. Willingness and opportunity were the chief factors. If Augusta isn’t good enough to live in, why let outsiders suck more life out?