The Augusta Commission has approved next year's budget. Commissioners are proud that they did not raise taxes. That would be great, except it is an irresponsible, baldfaced lie.
It is irresponsible because it does not consider the welfare of the people of Richmond County, i.e. cutting back on police protection. It is a lie because the commission has been adding extra taxes on us all year.
I do believe the water and sewer bill has gone up. The franchise fee for Cablevision has been raised. Now who pays these fees? We do because the increase is passed on to the customer. A tax by any other name is still a tax. So who're commissioners trying to kid?
The 2001 budget is the most irresponsible action the commission could have taken. As I understand it, the commission was short less than $1 million in balancing the budget. The county has a reserve fund of $25 million to support the county's AAA bond rating. The county could have used that money to make up the shortfall and replaced it later.
If the bond rating is lost, it can be gotten back, but one life lost due to a reduced police presence is too high a cost to pay ...
As much as it hurts my soul to agree with Phil Kent, I must say that his Dec. 24 column, and the section "Last-minute gift ideas" were the best. Why are commissioners and the legislative delegation (Sen. Charles Walker, D-Augusta) afraid to let the mayor have any powers? Are they afraid they can't control him?
Another good point was about commissioners Lee Beard, Willie Mays and Marion Williams going to Washington, D.C. and telling the world that Augusta has a "Civil War" mentality. The only thing that accomplished was to make themselves, and Augusta look pretty stupid ...
Robert P. McConnell Jr., Hephzibah
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