Originally created 08/25/04

Budget plan erases pay raises



A surefire way to reduce Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center's $1.66 million proposed budget for next year is to eliminate pay raises for all center employees, the center's manager recommended Tuesday at the Coliseum Authority's monthly meeting.

Manager Larry Rogers said he was able to trim nearly $65,000 from the center's budget. Almost half of that sum, $30,718, comes from cutting employee pay raises, he said.

"We just gotta do what we gotta do," Mr. Rogers said.

In early August, the Coliseum Authority voted to cut the 2004-05 budget by $100,000. But Mr. Rogers said Tuesday that reducing funds by that much would reflect negatively on the civic center's integrity.

Next year's proposed budget includes a projected $653,768 deficit, according to civic center documents. This year's $1.68 million spending plan included a $542,518 deficit.

Employee pay raises have been a hot topic since early summer, when board members protested Mr. Rogers' request for a 7 percent pay raise for himself, with all other civic center employees scheduled to receive only 3 percent raises. He later withdrew his request.

In mid-July, board members voted to freeze money for pay raises for at least six months. Employees would receive the raises only after performance evaluations and the recommendation of supervisors.

After the vote, board member Bill Maddox said the budget's looming deficit played a role in freezing the raises.

A revised budget will be brought before the Coliseum Authority at its September meeting, Mr. Rogers said.

In other news, Mr. Rogers said the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center lost the chance to have music superstar Elton John stop in Augusta for several days of rehearsal for his upcoming tour because of scheduling conflicts with the Augusta Lynx ice hockey team.

Mr. John also would have opened his tour with a performance at the center, Mr. Rogers added.

Reach Kate Lewis at (706) 823-3215 or kate.lewis@augustachronicle.com.

PROPOSED BUDGET CUTS

Proposed 2004-05 budget cuts for the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center Complex (Civic center and Bell Auditorium)
Employee raises $30,718
Already out of budget12,200
Replace stage lighting fixtures (Bell)3,000
Promotional items3,000
Replace mulch2,500
Strip and seal arena concourse and hallways 2,100
Reduce Bell/arena touch-up painting2,000
Uniforms for event staff
2,000
Promotional events1,800
Purchase new drop boxes (6)1,800
New entrance mats (Bell/arena)1,100
Forklift training1,000
Water (bottle rentals)1,000
Replace flooring in elevators300
Total$64,518