Augusta prepares for another $600,000 study

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News12 First at Five/ Oct. 16, 2013

Augusta,Ga (WRDW)---More than $600,000 is being set aside in next year's budget for another disparity study in Augusta.

The problem for some is that city leaders have not done anything with a more than four year old $500,000 study. It found what some believe to be discrimination against women and minorities on city contracting jobs.

Four years after an initial report showed women and minorities were receiving fewer city contracting jobs and the augusta commission is could soon take action.

"I will say that the study shows a disparity between women and minorities," said DBE Director Yvonne Gentry.

"It's less than seven percent and it's been going on that way for more than 50 years. It's time for change," said Small Business Advocate Hartley Gibbons.

Gibbons wants Augusta's City Attorney to meet with an Affirmative Action Expert to discuss ways to lift a court-order that bans the use of race and gender as criteria for city work.

"Some citizens have not been participating in our justice system or in our economic progress in the city of Augusta," said Gibbons.

One Augusta commissioner is not so sure that the discrimination found years ago still exists.

"In the past, we have use data that was not relevant or timely. It's what happened to us in the Thompson case. I'm wanting to be assured by staff that we don't set up a program that we can not defend in the future," said Commissioner Donnie Smith.

City Administrator Fred Russel is planning ahead. "We've continued that and identified a possible $600,000 on a new disparity study to move forward," said Russell.

Still, before the city can address the disparity, we're told a judge's order must be lifted.

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