Commission can't hide truth anymore

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Your city leaders are preparing to face perhaps the most difficult and delicate budget decisions Augusta has seen in years, if not decades.

At a time in which the private sector is struggling to pick itself up from what some are calling the "Great Recession," the Augusta government is staring at a potential $8.6 million deficit in its 2010 budget.

That's a lot of money to come up with in any economy, much less this one.

Not surprisingly, tax revenues are expected to be down. In addition, the city used $5.1 million in its rainy-day fund this past year to balance the budget.

In essence, the city was living beyond its means even before now.

That's not an option anymore.

Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Mason suggested this week looking at using monies from the Utilities Department enterprise funds -- but apparently didn't do his homework: The money is reportedly off-limits for general use, and has been allocated to other things anyway.

In short, there's no easy way out anymore.

Commissioner Joe Bowles wondered on Tuesday why the city hasn't taken the responsible step of cutting costs by looking at furloughs or layoffs. He noted, quite rightly, that most other units of government and private businesses have scaled back thusly on personnel costs.

As if to prove Bowles' point, the Georgia Department of Driver Services was closed Thursday for the first of four employee furlough days; the offices will also close Nov. 19, Dec. 18 and Jan. 28.

Augusta commissioners simply must marshal the courage to take similarly painful steps in order to avoid more property tax increases. City administrator Fred Russell is already calling for a 1.317 millage increase to shore up the expected $5.9 million hole in the law enforcement budget. That would add $46 in taxes on a $100,000 house.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver lamented the double whammy that occurs when the state pushes costs down to the municipal and county level -- but doesn't provide cities and counties with the flexibility needed to cover those costs, especially in local option sales taxes. He said such matters will be the No. 1 priority for the Georgia Municipal Association this coming year.

Copenhaver suggested, for instance, that local sales taxes be collected locally instead of going to Atlanta. When such a change was instituted in Alabama, he said, local tax receipts soared. Russell added his suspicions about state sales tax procedures when he noticed that several Georgia localities' sales tax revenues, as reported by the state, decreased by the same amount.

But the truth is, we can't expect an easy fix from Atlanta.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham said taking utility money for the general fund, even if it could be done, would be simply hiding a tax increase -- just, we might add, like raiding the savings account has been.

The truth is, the city has been living beyond its means, and that's not an option anymore.

It's time to stop hiding the truth and make the tough choices, commissioners.

Comments (50) Add comment
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jackfruitpaper833
41
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jackfruitpaper833 10/23/09 - 11:21 am
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LOL @ all this HATE towards

LOL @ all this HATE towards me for saying if I was in Joe's district I would vote for the OTHER GUY LOL..... How did you hate white people so much and you hate all white people derive from that post. FALLS OUT LAUGHING....

AWyld1
3
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AWyld1 10/23/09 - 11:29 am
0
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It's from ALL your posts.

It's from ALL your posts. Anyone who reads the posts everyday knows what you are.

harrisburgwillrise
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harrisburgwillrise 10/23/09 - 11:32 am
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concerned:You are right, but

concerned:You are right, but doing nothing is worse. Maybe if the creeps have to move enough, they will set up shop in another town.

jackfruitpaper833
41
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jackfruitpaper833 10/23/09 - 11:32 am
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Then AWyld1 it's sad, it's a

Then AWyld1 it's sad, it's a good thing I know I'm not. So it doesn't matter to me what anyone else thinks.

AWyld1
3
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AWyld1 10/23/09 - 11:38 am
0
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Well of course a racist will

Well of course a racist will never admit to being one. Instead of hiding behind a sheet you hide behind a computer. Any rational person that reads your posts can see you for what you are. Even the "non-angry white men". It must matter a lot to you. You devote 50% of your posts to saying you are not a racist. You are bothered by it or you would do like one of the other, and biggest, racists on here (justus4) and never respond to it.

Rozzie2003
5
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Rozzie2003 10/23/09 - 12:16 pm
0
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Joe Bowles, thanks for voting

Joe Bowles, thanks for voting to name the courthouse for Judge Ruffun. Reading one of your blogs, you mentioned Limbaugh.
I hope you aren't one of his Dittoheads. Consider you too intelligent.

creolechick
76
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creolechick 10/23/09 - 12:55 pm
0
0
The commission needs to limit

The commission needs to limit the trash pickup to 1 day per week for trash and still have the 1 day of recycling pickup. Maybe this will force people to recycle. I know many will resist at first but they will get used to it just like the paper bags for yard debris. But everyone got used to that. This would be going green and saving some green.

convertedsoutherner
2
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convertedsoutherner 10/23/09 - 12:57 pm
0
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Those who listen/read all

Those who listen/read all available media will be better informed and able to look at an issue with more objectivity. So just because a lib doesn't want to be informed with different information, doesn't mean everyone feels or should feel that way. Whether we believe or not still means that we ALL still have a freedom of choice. Enjoy it while you can.

harrisburgwillrise
0
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harrisburgwillrise 10/23/09 - 01:20 pm
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creolechick, you are right.

creolechick, you are right. I don't put my trashcan out everytime the truck rolls by. I recycle as well. I don't think that the masses understand that the recycle can is free; no extra charge. The trash trucks empty every can that sits on the street whether it needs it or not. If they rolled by once a week for garbage, this would save money. There are a lot of ways to save money without raising property taxes.

creolechick
76
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creolechick 10/23/09 - 01:35 pm
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I know it just astounds me

I know it just astounds me that in my entire neighborhood there are only 2 houses with the recycle can by the street on pick up day. I don't think people even know the option of this. We really need to get the word out. Our regular trash can is NEVER full. We could go 2 weeks to get it emptied. But the recycle can goes out every Friday. We definitely wouldn't need 2 trash days if more people would utilize this service.

Little Lamb
49036
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Little Lamb 10/23/09 - 02:34 pm
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Harrisburgwillrise and

Harrisburgwillrise and Creolechick have brought up good points. Another place for the city to save money is to switch to once a week garbage pickup. That will save a lot of diesel fuel as well as money for labor and wear and tear on trucks and roads.

MrAlwaysRight
0
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MrAlwaysRight 10/23/09 - 04:01 pm
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Grasshopper, please don't

Grasshopper, please don't compare anyone or any group to the KKK until they have committed murders, lynching, and bombed churches like the KKK. Posted by concernednative on Fri Oct 23, 2009 11:28 AM ...Tell that to the certain "poser poster" who constantly slanders with "KKKanity".

concernednative
28
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concernednative 10/23/09 - 04:24 pm
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I have and two wrongs don't

I have and two wrongs don't make a right. I have often posted on here in broad terms that shouldn't be done.

corgimom
38421
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corgimom 10/23/09 - 04:28 pm
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If anything, we need more

If anything, we need more judges. The Constitution states that people have the right to a speedy trial, the judges are a necessity.

lifelongresidient
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lifelongresidient 10/23/09 - 04:31 pm
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hey joe i don't hate

hey joe i don't hate limbaugh, BTW...why is he even mentioned.i have been a valuable listener since the mid 1980's i have not agreed on everything he said did nor will i ever with him or anyone else...the mark of someone with an open mind is the ability to hear information/data/opinions for all sides and think for yourself(is seems that you lack), it is you who when RUSH sez march you march.BTW joe can you tell me what radio station call letters in a major media market from the hours of 12-3 that rush started on in the mid-1980's??? that being said this is not about him it's about your promise as i had mentioned before in an article in the metro spirit regarding andy cheek's term ending and his pending move to sc, it mentioned in the article that you agreed to take over the support for the ellis street option..BTW.. tell us mr. bowles when the original plan was initiated and the article appeared in the metro sprirt did you support it or did you not??? that is the question....if you threw your support behind it at that time then do you still support it, if not then why change now? is it hat you are up for re-election andyou don't want that question to come it???

corgimom
38421
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corgimom 10/23/09 - 04:31 pm
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If you reduce trash pickup to

If you reduce trash pickup to once a week, you need twice as many trucks and personnel and twice as many trash cans. The volume of trash still stays the same. And businesses- especially restaurants- need more than once a week pickup, so you won't save too much. We hate once a week pickup- in the summertime, that garbage STINKS and it attracts animals with the smell.

AWyld1
3
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AWyld1 10/23/09 - 04:32 pm
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The once a week garbage

The once a week garbage pickup will only save for the taxpayer...the county pays nothing for our trash pickup. It's a extra tax disguised as a service. Wonder who got the kickback from that?

old man river
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old man river 10/23/09 - 05:56 pm
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It's an awful thing when

It's an awful thing when adults...and I use that loosely with justus and fruity...use this and any other forum as a race baiting platform. Look around folks...this whole country is suffering through an economic crisis. I don't think any commissioner took the time to get elected in order to make things worse. I believe they all want to make things better for Augusta, but some ideas are more feasible than others. Joe has been a level headed leader is his district as has Jerry been in mine. We are still going to have to tighten our belts a bit more until this black cloud lifts. All of these radical ideas are outrageous and most of the time I think some people on here throw them out there just to get a reaction. Let's PLEASE find a plan we can agree on as a majority and work towards that goal. Let's go to more meetings instead of using 2nd hand media info to become 'experts.'

old man river
0
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old man river 10/23/09 - 06:00 pm
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lifelong, do you have the

lifelong, do you have the exact same convictions you had twenty years ago? No wavering or having your mind changed? I doubt it, so if one man changed his mind on an issue, it's not that big of an issue. Good grief, Obama has changed his mind on so many things, it's incredible. But he is my president and I will support him.

corgimom
38421
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corgimom 10/23/09 - 07:19 pm
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Old man river, you are

Old man river, you are talking to too many Augustans that have lived here too long and seen too much. "I believe they all want to make things better for Augusta". OK.

creolechick
76
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creolechick 10/23/09 - 10:40 pm
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Corgimom, we previously lived

Corgimom, we previously lived in Aiken co. and only had trash pickup once a week and it worked out fine. The trash didn't stink any more than usual and we weren't over run. Probably because we recycled which is what I'm recommending. Do you have a recycling can? It is the same size as your regular can but with a blue lid. Believe me you can make do with once a week if you recycle which is something we should all start doing anyway. We have to tighten the belt somewhere.

eachoneteachone
0
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eachoneteachone 10/23/09 - 11:02 pm
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Palmer is the only candidate

Palmer is the only candidate with a plan to save tax payers money. www.butchforaugusta.org

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