Columbia County judge gives SPLOST 7 vote a green light

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) - -An Augusta businessman is trying to put a stop to SPLOST 7. Les Morton filed legal documents suggesting SPLOST 7 will have a negative impact on him and others in Augusta.

He has two cases against the city in superior and federal court. Some city leaders are saying they are not surprised by trying to
"The SPLOST was totally wrong from the beginning. It was rushed we didn't take time to meet on it," said Commissioner Marion Williams.

Commissioner Marion Williams says he's not surprised an injunction has been filed against the mayor and the commission about SPLOST 7. Williams says there was no public input.
"It was rammed down our throats. I think the community would want some dialogue. It was all wrong," said Commissioner Marion Williams.

Les Morton specifically identified King and Sibley Mills and the Augusta Canal Authority in documents to the courts
Both are set to receive around $8 million in SPLOST funds combined.

"This is no different than some of the colleagues who voted for SPLOST 6. There is nothing different the only thing this one has is less pork," said Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle.

The law states SPLOST should be used for projects like major or permanent improvements to land and structures. Out of the nearly $200 million plan around $20 million would go to outside agencies like the Imperial Theater, GRU- Augusta and Paine College.

In the legal documents, Morton states, that the city doesn't own any of those agencies and that leaders are not using SPLOST funds properly.

"I know a lot of people don't want to take taxpayers money and designate it towards certain private industries. It was one of the things brought on by one of the commissioners," said Commissioner Grady Smith.

On Wednesday Columbia County Superior Court Judge Michael Annis ruled in favor of the city of Augusta. Judge Annis said the burden of proof was up to Mr. Morton and that he didn't prove his case.

Morton tells News12 he plans to file another case in federal court and is hoping for a different outcome.


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