Commissioners tour District 6, discuss budget issue

By: Jonathan Martin
By: Jonathan Martin

Augusta commissioners were back on the bus June 9, this time touring District 6.

News 12's Jonathan Martin was on board.

Commissioners all voted during a retreat to participate in these tours in order to learn more about the needs across the city, and they seem to be learning a lot.

Mayor Copenhaver and six commissioners were on board, including Andy Cheek, who represents the half-residential, half-retail area. Cheek says his district doesn't have as many needs as some others, but there are still areas of concern.

"The neighborhoods need some help in enhanced crime protection, code enforcement, infrastructure," Cheek says.

And while Andy Cheek's district is a concern of city leaders, so is the city's budget--$5 million in the hole.

"We're going to have to balance the budget, so it's either going to be reductions or layoffs or reducing services," says commissioner Joe Bowles. "We cant continue on the term were headed towards."

Bowles told his fellow commissioners that to get the budget back in order, they need to take back four percent of the eight percent raises given to county employees. But not everyone seems to agree.

"Four percent would help us balance the budget, but we can find four percent somewhere else," says commissioner Don Grantham.

"The cuts have to start at the top," said interim commissioner Keith Brown. "It's certainly not my wish for anyone to be laid off. We may have to investigate the possibility of having people take a pay cut."

But one thing commissioners did agree on during the tour is that whether it's new condos, more shopping centers, or a drag strip, something has to be done soon to get money coming into the city.

"We have done a really good job of being in favor of these things without following through, and that needs to change," Cheek says. "It really needs to change if we are going to keep the city of Augusta solvent."

There's one more bus tour left: District 4. That's the area represented by interim commissioner Brown.

As far as the budget, we expect some answers about what cuts will be made soon, as a committee is set to meet next week.


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