2007 city budget brings changes to Augusta

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January 3, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Three days into the New Year, you may already be feeling the pinch of Augusta's new budget.

This new budget went into effect January 1, and there are lots of changes from last year. Some of them may take some time to happen; others have gone into effect right away.

If the grass around town seems to be higher than normal, and if you don't see transit buses running as frequently now, City Administrator Fred Russell says you're feeling the effects of Augusta's budget cuts.

"We've tried to minimize the impact as best we could, given the constraints of a tight budget," he told News 12.

After the commission wrestled for months coming up with the numbers, what was once just a document is now being put into play.

The sheriff's office is now operating with half a million dollars less, and the Recreation and Parks Department has a million dollars less to play with.

Soon will come the news of which city workers will lose their jobs after Mr. Russell makes $1.6 million in job cuts.

"It's still a flexible number," Russell said. "On that day we announce, we'll be able to give you the specific number of positions that we abolish versus the number that might include people going home."

But one thing that won't be going anytime soon is the arts, with the Arts Council receiving double the money from last year. Expect to see more plays, festivals, and concerts in 2007.

No word on what department those job cuts will come from. Mr. Russell says he expects to make the announcement sometime in the next two weeks.

Some business owners are already feeling the effect of the new budget. Starting this week, alcohol and other license fees have been increased.

Also under this new budget, city workers will receive a two percent raise, beginning in July.