Why should the city spend $5 million on King and Sibley Mills?

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News12 at 6 o'clock/ 4/30/14

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Augusta's SPLOST package is under going even more scrutiny. Next week city leaders will discuss the full plan for the King and Sibley Mills project which stands to receive $5 million.

Some city leaders think it's a waste of time to spend millions on buildings without knowing if they're even environmentally sound.
The mayor says you have to buy it, build it then they will come.

Some of the first projects to receive sales tax dollars won't be public safety, dilapidated properties or go toward paving roads. The first project to get anything will be King and Sibley Mills. Some commissioners want answers.

"Are we buying land? Are we paying salaries? Are we using the money for studies? What is this money going to be used for? What's going to be the result of us spending $5.2 million," said Commissioner Mason.

"It is a very viable project and we are looking at an entire district," said Mayor Copenhaver.

Mayor Copenhaver is trying to get GRU Augusta to move into the 100 year old old textile mills. The school hasn't accepted or denied the request. GRU-A Officials tell us they are in a master planning process that won't be complete until the end of the year. Come May 20Th voters could approve allocating $5 million for two empty buildings.

"Is GRU interested in this or not? It's a simple answer yes or no. If we are going to spend that kind of money, we at least need to know," said Commissioner Mason.

"It's land acquisition. The canal authority owns the two mills and in order to plan for property you generally have to own it," said Mayor Copenhaver.

Recently Sheriff Richard Roundtree, very publicly threw his support behind the nearly $200 million plan, even though his department might not receive any funding for years. Augusta Commissioners tell News 12 that's because six commissioners will decide the next projects to get the cash.

"If I was the sheriff, I would've said bond some of my money first so I can support it. The way it's set up now, he won't receive any money until 2018 or 2019," said

"The Sheriff is in support of SPLOST. Some are saying we should wait another year, but that would put of funding for public safety even longer," said Mayor Copenhaver.

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