Does disparity still exist in Augusta?

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Monday, Jan. 14, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- In just one year, a $500,000 disparity study will be no use to Augusta commissioners. The data they collected will expire.

Now they need a plan in action.

"If you or anyone else on your staff receive a salary, you all need to do what you're supposed to do," said Commissioner Marion Williams.

"You have accused people of not doing their jobs. You accused people of not working. Basically accusing people of taking money they didn't earn," said City Administrator Fred Russell.

Accusations of being rude and insubordination flying back and forth between Williams and Russell. It's all about the data outlining the city's business contracts with minorities and women.

A 2009 disparity study points out a need to do better.

"The things that could've been done should've been done. Now everybody gets up here and does a song and dance. The government is doing the paying," Williams said.

"We've had people up here that didn't respect employees. We had people that didn't talk to employees appropriately," Russell said.

He says they need more data on the 2009 study. Commissioners want to know if disparity between minority and women still exists today or if things have improved.

"It's not just minority contractors, but small contractors and all of them," said Contractor Larry McCord.

McCord has owned a small contracting business for 20 years. He says the way things are now makes it harder for smaller construction companies to compete with the big ones.

"Some people don't seem to understand it costs you to build projects. If you are a bigger contractor, you can absorb the cost better," he said.

Because in the end, everybody should be working toward the same goal.

"One has one way of saying things. The other has another way of saying things," McCord said.

Commissioners will discuss the issue further at a goal-setting meeting in two weeks.

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