West Augusta residents question SPLOST 7

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News 12 11pm /Monday, March 10, 2014

Augusta, Ga. (WRDW) --A whole lot of questions -- about a whole lot of pennies. Monday night some got a first-hand look at what the money from a special sales tax will mean for them and the county as a whole. As News 12 reports a lot of people are feeling left out when it comes to SPLOST 7. The West Augusta Alliance is an organization for neighborhoods that make up 3 area zip codes and while Monday's forum was supposed to have three focuses--one took the spotlight.

Just about every seat in the room was taken. Folks from all over west Augusta came to hear a pitch on SPLOST 7. Commissioner Donnie Smith began his lesson on SPLOST 7 with a power point. Like students in a classroom voters took notes and did math to see how the almost 200-million dollar SPLOST will help them.

"I don't like any funds going to a private institution," said one west Augusta man.

About 22-million dollars will go to places like Paine College and the GRU cancer center--and some wonder why? And Commissioner Smith tried to explain.

"We leveraged 8 million dollars of our money to get 48 million dollars worth of the state's money to build the cancer center," he told the crowd.

Smith says that will bring 300-million dollars worth of research contracts to Augusta. And as for Paine's 18-million dollar project--they must raise 1.5 million dollars before they can get the 6-millon the city will match. And if they don't the deal is off.

"I would have said no.. I'm not voting for SPLOST," was Matt Maryak thought before Monday's meeting.

Maryak says he now understands why the city is giving some to get some--but says not every subject on the agenda -- was hit.

"They really didn't hit the latter on the storm water fees," he told News 12.

Maryak admits SPLOST 7 rightfully took the attention because that's what everyone cares about right now....even though some seemed over it after the almost hour and half presentation. For now, though, it seems like Smith's lesson has changed at least one mind.

"I think I've been slided to yes because of the opportunities for the community itself," Maryak told News 12 after the meeting.

The storm water fee was quickly mentioned. If raised it's supposed to help with the cost of maintaining roads, pipes, ditches, and other up keep--but Monday night it was all about the SPLOST money