News 12 at 6:00, July 11, 2007
AUGUSTA, GA--Last night's commission meeting will also bring new taxes, and improvements, to downtown businesses. In a 6-3 vote, they decided to let businesses tax themselves to make the area a better place.
When you look around downtown, you'll often see litter on the streets and empty sidewalks. The Downtown Development Authority hopes to change that. They say improvements will attract a bigger crowd, which means bigger bucks for businesses.
The restaurant William Harrison manages relies on the lunch and dinner rush. That's why he's glad to be part of the new business improvement district.
"I think it will help business a lot. If downtown is seen as a better place, it's good for us, and it's good for everybody else." He said.
Someone peppered his place with a BB gun several months back. So he welcomes the extra security that could come with this new ordinance.
"If people don't feel safe, they won't come down here." Harrison said.
That's why people called "bicycles ambassadors" will ride around. Their job will be welcoming people to the city and keeping an eye out for crime. Becky Holland says that will make her feel safer during her daily downtown lunch breaks.
"It might stop some of the violence in downtown, or in Augusta period." She said.
Becky also says her walk to lunch is littered with things like cigarette butts. That's why this new ordinance can help put the trash in the can, and it can help steam clean the sidewalks.
Another problem is graffiti. It's all over some buildings downtown, and the Development Authority says they plan to clean this up."
"It will allow us to be a growing neighborhood again, get people living downtown again.""It will lure the retail we need and the people we need." Said Executive Director Margaret Woodard. She says, to make that happen, these people will pay extra property taxes. That will fund the four hundred thousand dollar a year improvements, which could bring more people into businesses and restaurants like William's' s.
"I think anything that helps downtown is good for the whole city." He said.
This project has been in the works for several years. It goes into effect in 2008 for people who work between 6th and 13th Streets, and the river and the southside of Green Street.