Commission approves budget without tax increase

After a lengthy discussion about funding cuts for outside agencies, the Augusta Commission approved a 2010 budget today that does not include a tax rate increase.

The vote was 8-1, with Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Mason opposed and Betty Beard absent.

In the motion made by Joe Bowles, the mayor will form a subcommittee to review agencies receiving city funds, to determine whether some ought to be cut more than others, or less than others. The issue was raised by Don Grantham, who said he had problems with the city's 15 percent cuts across the board.

He said he didn't understand why the Augusta Museum of History and the Lucy Craft Laney Museum are being funded at the same level, and are each being cut the same amount, when the former is so much larger and serves far more people than the latter. After the reductions, each museum would receive $148,750 next year.

"I just think we need to give full consideration to those agencies that are providing services to numbers in our community," Mr. Grantham said.

Mr. Mason said he voted against the budget because he has several problems with it, inluding $1 million in cuts to the sheriff's office and fudning for prisoners.

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