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What’s ahead for new interim city administrator in Augusta?

Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 7:54 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Friday was Odie Donald’s last day on the job. He’ll now head to the state capital, where he’ll serve as the mayor’s chief of staff.

On Saturday, Takiyah Douse stepped in as interim Augusta city administrator. One big task on the plate is figuring out how to spend $11 million from the American Rescue Plan.

We asked commissioners what’s next for the interim administrator.

“So, what is next? What is first for our interim administrator? I’m not sure,” said Jordan Johnson, Augusta Commission member for District 1.

Brandon Garrett, commissioner for District 8, said: “Let her get up to speed, and then I think later on we’ll have that discussion.”

Augusta was allocated $82 million. Donald made a budget for most of it, but Douse will have to figure out the rest with commissioners.

The good thing is, they have until 2024 to spend it. Funds cannot be spent on just anything. Governments are restricted on how they can use it. So far, they’ve spent about $10 million for projects including Vax Up Augusta, pay bonuses for first responders, and more street lighting.

Johnson said: “I don’t think that we should be in a rush to spend that money. We don’t know what’s coming down the line.”

In his exit work session, Donald recommended setting some aside for a rainy day and giving some out to community organizations.

“I think we should talk about putting some of the money out on the street,” said Johnson.

There was also talk of giving each district commissioner their own million to spend.

Dennis Williams, commissioner for District 2 said: “I really like the idea, but we have to be so careful in how we select projects.”

Garrett said: “I have concerns about what that would look like as well as how we would implement that.”

All three had ideas on how they’d like to spend it. Williams wants more for blight and speed humps, Johnson for homelessness and minority-owned businesses, and Garrett wants to keep Augusta clean and lower crime.

Williams said: “Once the good is done, and there are no more funds for it, then that’s the end of it.”

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