City leaders call proposed 2008 budget "conservative"

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, October 17, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---The city of Augusta has released its annual budget plan, and it looks like it could mean you're going to pay more in taxes. News 12 is taking a closer look at the budget and what it means for you.

Augusta's taxes are on the rise again--a .863 mill rate increase to be exact. For owners of $100,000 homes that amounts to about $30 per year.

Richard Redding lives in Augusta. "It's easy to say, 'Well, let's just raise taxes,' but do I really just want them to just keep getting money and spending at will when they can maybe look at priorities and switch around some of the funds?" he asked.

So, where is your money going? For starters, it will help to ease jail overcrowding. Charles Toole is chief jailer for Augusta. He told News 12, "It causes problems, fights break out, medical problems...We're going into the flu season. If one catches the flu it's probably good odds that somebody else is gonna catch it."

There are about 358 beds in the jail, but today there were 509 people. That leaves hundreds sleeping on the floor.

"No one's generally coming in for any other reason that to get out of here, and if they want to get out of here in a timely fashion, cooperate, and it makes it a lot better for everybody," said Deputy Otis McGraw.

"You worry about your deputies more than anything else," said Chief Toole. "I don't want them hurt and I don't want the inmates hurt."

Overcrowded jails are not the only issue, though. Run-down homes are also an issue. The city wants to put over $100,000 to tearing them down.

And one more thing: $75,000 to help maintain a new James Brown exhibit at the Augusta Museum of History.

Worthwhile causes? You decide. As for Richard, he says, "I'm not for it at all."

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