Sales tax project list is approved

  • Follow Metro

The tinkering, negotiating and second-guessing are over.

Augusta commissioners approved a final special-purpose sales tax project list totaling $184,724,000 Thursday. It passed 9-0, with Commissioner Joe Bowles absent.

The package goes before voters in a special election June 16. If approved, the amount will take an estimated five years to collect. Based on the projected end date of the ongoing sales tax and the current collection rate of $3.1 million per month, the next sales tax would end September 2015.

Last week commissioners asked City Administrator Fred Russell to come up with an alternative list totaling $181 million, which he did by eliminating a $1.5 million cost escalation reserve fund and slashing allocations for Hephzibah, Blythe, Municipal Building improvements and a storm water utility program.

Commissioners didn't go for it, opting for an alternative they'd worked out behind the scenes. Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Mason made the motion to accept the $184.7 million amount Mr. Russell recommended earlier this month, with a few changes. The $1.5 million reserve was cut, and in its place an extra $1 million was added to the Regency Mall lake plan -- bringing that project total to $3.5 million -- and $500,000 was added for a Garden City Beautification Initiative.

Mr. Mason said the initiative will spruce up city gateways such as Deans Bridge Road, Peach Orchard Road, Mike Padgett Highway, Gordon Highway and Washington Road.

The extra $1 million for the lake plan involves forcing the hand of Regency Mall's owner, New York-based Cardinal Entities, which killed a previous plan to buy and raze the vacant mall by claiming its worth as $50 million, even though the company protested last year when the tax assessor's office tried to raise the value to $5.7 million. South Augusta commissioners were adamant that the next SPLOST address the mall, which they blame for stymieing redevelopment in the Gordon Highway corridor and all of the city south of it.

Mr. Mason said along with building a 13-acre lake around what's now Regency Boulevard, the city can also undertake "significant beautification" designed to boost property values and hopefully prompt Cardinal to get on board with the city's mixed-use plan for the site, which includes apartments, town homes, commercial space, open space, jogging tracks, tennis courts and an indoor pool.

If nothing else, boosting the property value will boost the owner's taxes, Mr. Mason said.

"Let's beautify it, and hope that will motivate him," the mayor pro tem said. "Even if that means to sell it to us at a reasonable cost."

Sixty-seven percent of the sales tax package is for infrastructure. The list also includes:

- $18 million for Municipal Building renovations

- $17 million to replace police vehicles and fire trucks

- $10.9 million for parks and recreation

- $10 million to pay off debt from money fronted to Medical College of Georgia to buy Gilbert Manor public housing project

- $5.7 million for Hephzibah and Blythe

- $5.1 million toward restoration of the Miller Theatre

- $4 million to dredge Lake Olmstead

- $2.5 million for Paine College's Health Education Activities Learning Complex

Before voting for it, some commissioners expressed dissatisfaction with the list and wondered aloud if the city might have trouble collecting that amount within a reasonable time if the economy doesn't recover.

Jerry Brigham said he wished the list could have been cut to about $160 million, but he knew the board wasn't going to do that.

"I can't oppose it," Don Grantham said, "but I can still have my disagreements."

To stay on schedule, the Augusta Commission must approve the wording of the referendum going before voters on March 3. Voters have the final say on the $184.7 million package in a special election scheduled June 16.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

Project list

View an outline of the projects approved Thursday by commissioners. [PDF]

Comments (22)

Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 02/20/09 - 06:00 am
0
0

Included is money to beautify

Included is money to beautify the south Augusta gateways to the city. It's past time south Augusta was brought into the fold.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 02/20/09 - 07:23 am
0
0

May the RCBOE impose a

May the RCBOE impose a SPLOST?

LadyCisback
4
Points
LadyCisback 02/20/09 - 07:48 am
0
0

All that money for the

All that money for the beautification of Augusta.... exactly where does the education falls into the equation!!

Poor-Enough
0
Points
Poor-Enough 02/20/09 - 07:57 am
0
0

If they spend money on

If they spend money on education, they might accidently raise an educated populus. If they do that, people will start to see the wasteful spending that is happening with the Augusta SPLOST, and those people may actually step up and remove some of these idiots from office. Maybe find some busines men and women who can operate within a budget instead of mismanaging a larger budget!

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 02/20/09 - 08:49 am
0
0

Adding the Regency Mall lake

Adding the Regency Mall lake plan and Garden City Beautification Initiative is enough for me to vote NO for this SPLOST in June.

TrukinRanger
1554
Points
TrukinRanger 02/20/09 - 09:42 am
0
0

I'm all for the

Unpublished

I'm all for the Beautification.. hopefully that means lots of bulldoziers!

dadgethiskids
0
Points
dadgethiskids 02/20/09 - 09:53 am
0
0

How can tax dollars be spent

How can tax dollars be spent on a private institution such as Paine College?

disssman
6
Points
disssman 02/20/09 - 10:01 am
0
0

Glad to see that the Miller

Glad to see that the Miller is MORE important than either Hephzibah or Blythe. Funny I didn't see antthing in there for the southend? Commissioners must have some relatives around Lake Ohmstead. And I still don't know what a lake is supposed to do for us? And when did Paine College become a taxpayer funded activity? Personally, I think it is dead on arrival.

waiting_patiently
0
Points
waiting_patiently 02/20/09 - 10:03 am
0
0

What good is this going to

What good is this going to do? Screw the Beautification! Okay so property value goes up, and then property taxes go up! Its bad enough when u live in a neighbor hood where 75% of it is renter's (who don't pay property tax). Oh by the way there's where you education money comes from. You're welcome neighbors!!!!! So now we will all be broke, pinching pennies to pay a higher property tax, but we will live in a Beautiful City with another lake for people to drown in! Yay!

g-dog express
0
Points
g-dog express 02/20/09 - 10:07 am
0
0

Isn't it amazing when the

Isn't it amazing when the economy is bad and companies are cutting back; people can't make house payments; the economy is tanking all the government can think to do is to takeand spend more money from the tax payer. When will the government stop taking and taking and start solving the financial problems. Take Regency Mall for example. I could agree that the building needs to come down for safety issues. Does the CSRA really need another lake? Isn't there enough already? I'm sure Lake Olmstead needs to be dredged but can't they until economic times get better? Would it harm the ecology beyond repair to wait for a few years? I need new glasses but I'll have to wait until I can afford them. It appears to me that most of these things could wait a little while. Give the money back to those who earn it.

corgimom
19199
Points
corgimom 02/20/09 - 10:31 am
0
0

I don't live in Augusta any

I don't live in Augusta any longer, but just because of the Miller Theatre and Regency Mall, and Paine College proposals, I would vote NO. Let the owner of Regency Mall donate it to the county or the Army- they could conduct training exercises there and when they were done, blow the damn thing up and be done with it.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 02/20/09 - 12:00 pm
0
0

Well $100.000 to spruce up

Well $100.000 to spruce up each of the gateways into the city, or will Washington road get the bulk? Can you believe it. Just what are they going to do with ALL that money, H--- I spend 1% of that amount on my lawn every year? Add a flower bed or two and just where? Oh I forgot we will spend anout 2/3rds of the money for a study so we are absolutely sure of the locations. BTW didn't we just fire a bunch of people whose job it is to take care of items like this? Who wants to bet that the 5.1 Mil for the Miller actually turns into 10 Mil ? I can see it now, the lake property isn't available and we have the money so we need to spend it on something.

Little Lamb
40103
Points
Little Lamb 02/20/09 - 12:00 pm
0
0

I'm with No Longer Amazed.

I'm with No Longer Amazed. I'm voting NO in June.

booger
0
Points
booger 02/20/09 - 12:22 pm
0
0

No mention of the Paine

No mention of the Paine college gymnasium. Did that come out. Do not think the city can legally support a private institution.

jack
10
Points
jack 02/20/09 - 12:46 pm
0
0

Vote NO on the lake and Paine

Vote NO on the lake and Paine College. The lake is not necesary and Paine is a private school.

KingJames
10
Points
KingJames 02/20/09 - 01:38 pm
0
0

What will you people ever

What will you people ever vote for? You spend more time complaining about everything than you actually do making suggestions for improvements. If you don't like any of the decisions being made by the commission, then maybe you should run for office. I don't agree with everything they voted on, but at least I try to see why some things are done while others are not. Most of you never like anything that happens in government. PatT, at least I can say you aren't complaining today, and I agree with your first post. The rest of you hold Augusta down with negativity.

Self01
0
Points
Self01 02/20/09 - 01:41 pm
0
0

When the vote is taken in

When the vote is taken in June, it's either a yes or no vote for SPLOST. Therefore, before anyone makes up his/her mind as to how to vote, it is essential to be familiar with the entire list of projects as proposed, all of which are worthy projects and reinforce and add to the positive characteristics of Augusta-Richmond County!

sprintman
0
Points
sprintman 02/20/09 - 02:14 pm
0
0

Some people will complain

Some people will complain about everything. Im voting yes to keep moving Augusta forward. More jobs for the area because of splost. Look at how many construction workers it will take for the miller, infrastrucutre, Hephzibah, Blythe, paine college, muncipal building, etc improvements. Paine college health education center = higher quality of education in Augusta. Miller theatre = higher quality of life in Augusta. Hephzibah and Blythe = higher quality of life for those two cities and higher population in richmond county.

sprintman
0
Points
sprintman 02/20/09 - 02:17 pm
0
0

Mr. Mason said the initiative

Mr. Mason said the initiative will spruce up city gateways such as Deans Bridge Road, Peach Orchard Road, Mike Padgett Highway, Gordon Highway and Washington Road.

I agree 100%

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 02/20/09 - 04:29 pm
0
0

I'm sorry, sprintman, all I

I'm sorry, sprintman, all I see is "Garden City Beautification Initiative 500,000." Please don't say that I should have been there to hear it, like disssman has said in the past where are the details?

BakersfieldCityLimits
1
Points
BakersfieldCityLimits 02/20/09 - 06:06 pm
0
0

I say close a few fire

I say close a few fire stations and lay off 50 deputies to make ends meet.

LaTwon
1
Points
LaTwon 02/20/09 - 06:21 pm
0
0

i thought joe bowles the

i thought joe bowles the accountant said that the 10 million dollars for mcg wasnt going to cost the taxpayer a penny?
how bout it joe? do you not know what you are voting on?

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 02/20/09 - 06:51 pm
0
0

LaTwon: I did wonder about

LaTwon: I did wonder about "Commissioner Joe Bowles absent." Also, "Before voting for it, some commissioners expressed dissatisfaction with the list," and ended up "opting for an alternative they'd worked out behind the scenes." "Jerry Brigham said he wished the list could have been cut," and Don Grantham said "I can't oppose oppose it, but I can still have my disagreements." Well, I have to vote in June for all or nothing. I can assure you in advance that it will be "NO" for nothing!

Back to Top

Top headlines

Judge denies request to delay sales tax vote

A superior court judge denied a request Wednesday from a Richmond County citizen seeking a court order to postpone the May 20 special purpose local option sales tax referendum.
Loading...