Augusta 2007 Budget Breakdown

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December 1, 2006

Some big changes are on the way after Augusta commissioners adopted the 2007 budget yesterday.

Along with a property tax increase, some city departments got increased funding...and others were cut to bare bones.

News 12's Jonathan Martin spoke with some of those affected.

$4 million worth of cuts affects a lot of people, and the new budget approved by the Commission yesterday has some whose jobs survived the cuts breathing a sigh of relief, and those who didn’t looking for Plan B.

The new budget has Bettye Jones cuttin' a rug.

As director of the Weed and Seed after school and GED program in south Augusta's Barton Village, she can now relax knowing her job and the program will not be cut.

"Now that we have this money, we are going to do it," Jones said, breaking out into a dance. "This is the holy dance," she said. "We are going to do it. We are going to make a profound difference in Barton Village."

"We thought for sure we were going to lose this," she said. "We're not going to lose that program with this money."

Thursday, the Augusta Commission adopted the city's 2007 spending plan, which includes a small property tax increase, more funding for the arts, and restoring $150,000 for the neighborhood enhancement program Jones runs.

While she and her staff are planning for next year, Whitney Mills and other transit riders are trying to figure out what they will do as the new budget puts the brakes on the downtown shuttle and leaves buses running every hour instead of 30 minutes apart.

"If they take one bus from Augusta Mall, East Augusta, and Washington Road, we're not going to have enough buses," Mills said. "People are going to be late for work, late to go anywhere they got to go."

City Administrator Fred Russell says tough decisions had to be made...and though many services got the ax, Russell says it's important to remember this is a plan for coming year, and not forever.

"It's an outline of what to expect to happen in the future, and hopes to happen. If revenues are up, we will adjust downward, if revenues are flat, we will live with what we've got," he said.

Also in this budget, recreational fees will increase, liquor license fees will increase, the sheriff's office loses half a million dollars from the operating budget, and in January, Fred Russell plans to have a list of 35 jobs that will be cut.