News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A program designed to keep downtown Augusta clean and safe may not be around much longer.
It will be up to business owners to decide if they like the CADI program and want to sign a petition to keep it around.
Bill Merry, owner of Merry's Trash and Treasures on Broad Street, says he likes the program.
"Yes it costs us a little bit more, but it's well worth the investment in my opinion," he said.
Johnny Finley owns United Loan and Firearms down the street, but he says, "It's just an extra tax."
Business owners in downtown Augusta are divided. Some are happy to pay an extra fee to keep downtown clean, but some say they're just tired of being taxed.
Margaret Woodard, the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, says, "We feel like the last five years was really just a dress rehearsal to tweak the program to get it just as good as it could get."
Now, after five years, it's time to see if business owners think the program is working.
"There's a committee going door to door to visit with each property owner to sit down and discuss the management plan for 2013," Woodard said.
The DDA needs 51 percent of property owners downtown to sign a petition in favor of the program before they can ask commissioners to continue CADI another five years.
"After consolidation, we were supposed to save money, and now I'm paying for my own dumpster. And paying to get the streets cleaned, and that's all the CADI thing really does is clean up," Finley said.
But some say it's about more than just keeping downtown clean.
"They're extra eyes out there, although they're not a policing force, it does add a sense of security," Merry said.
But, those against the program argue that security didn't seem to help stop the violence on First Friday.
"The beauty of this program is that it can be tweaked at any time," Woodard said.
She says after the violence surrounding First Friday, they re-evaluated and now have CADI members patrolling later.
But some still aren't sold, saying, "We should cut the budget back and hire more deputies. And go back to using the prisoner system for cleanup."