Augusta commissioners vote, debate, argue for hours

By: Ryan Houston Email
By: Ryan Houston Email

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Tuesday, June 18, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Commissioners voted, debated and even argued. One hot-button issue was a no vote of confidence in City Attorney Andrew MacKenzie.

It was sent back to committee, and leaders learned they could have to pay an outside attorney to advise them on how to proceed.

"I think from day one Mr. Lockett has been on his case," said Commissioner Grady Smith.

"I have a bone to pick with him. City Attorney Andrew MacKenzie's decisions are unfair, unpopular and bias," said Commissioner Bill Lockett.

City leaders finally passed a contract extension for Heery International. The company manages SPLOST projects for the city. The vote was 9 to 1, and City Administrator Fred Russell says he was able to save the city nearly $200,000.

"This should have been done upfront. This shouldn't have required commissioners to send it back to committee," Lockett said.

Commissioners also passed a new city code relating to kids and pets left in hot cars. The codes read that you can never leave a small child in the car. Your window will be broken if you leave a pet in the car longer than five minutes when it's hotter than 85 and colder than 35 degrees.

The Riverwalk could be getting some safety upgrades. It was sent back to committee for discussion. Leaders found out it could cost them over $100,000 to make all the repairs and safety upgrades.

"If we can justify that figure, then it needs to happen yesterday. You can not put a monetary value on our citizens. At the same time, I'm not looking to get ripped off," said Commissioner Alvin Mason.

Finally, Commissioner Joe Jackson made a motion to hire a director for the Equal Employment Opportunity and the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. The problem is other commissioners say Yvonne Gentry and Jacquelyn Humpries already hold those positions.

"We have conflicting information. We have things that say director and others that say coordinator," Mason said.

"I've got conflicting information from what they have. We need a ruling on that, and it's really important," Jackson said.

As the meeting dragged on, commissioners left one by one. So many left, they lost a quorum and couldn't close the meeting until Smith came back.

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