Sheriff Roundtree denies support of SPLOST package as political

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News12 at six o'clock/ 4/29/14

Augusta, Ga (WRDW)---It's getting down to the wire for the May 20th election. Voters will hit the polls three weeks from Tuesday April 29th.

Voters have a big decision about a penny sales tax and that could mean millions for Augusta-Richmond County.
The Special Local Option Sales Tax Package is also creating a big controversy.

Some commissioners believe Sheriff Richard Roundtree's news conference was nothing but a political move. Sheriff Richard Roundtree disputes those claims that his support of SPLOST seven was a political move at all.

City leaders tell News12, they believe the mayor was behind it all. Sheriff Richard Roundtree called a news conference to talk about why his department needed the more than $20 million in sales tax funding. After his speech was over, he refused to take questions from the media.

"Some are wondering, Mr. Mayor did you put the sheriff up to this," News12 asked. "No Ryan, I think you can see that this is really important to law enforcement," said Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

"In my opinion, yeah I think they're trying to gain support. The mayor was behind this 100 percent and it was rushed," said Commissioner Marion Williams.

Commissioners Bill Lockett and Marion Williams say they're not against the Sheriff having the money to keep the city safe. However they do have a problem with the plan for millions of taxpayer dollars going to GRU Augusta and Paine College.

"No no no that's not what it is set up to do. The SPLOST package is set up to fund capital outlay projects, other authorized projects along with rural streets and bridges," said Commissioner Bill Lockett.

"We haven't gotten that. So I'm going to do a press conference myself. I'm going to call some people together to let them know how important it is not to pass this SPLOST," said Commissioner Marion Williams.

Employees in the city's finance department tell us only a hand full of projects could start to receive sales tax funding in 2016. Projects that will receive funds immediately are $8 million to pay off the loan for GRU-Augusta, $4 million for technology for the tax commissioners office, millions for King and Sibley Mills project which GRU has still not committed to using.

On May 20th, it's up to voters to either sign on to the idea or vote it down.

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