Mayor calls for review of Augusta's charter

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News 12 at six o'clock, February 7, 2008

Augusta, GA---Mayor Deke Copenhaver presented his state of the city address Thursday. The mayor says the city of Augusta is growing and it is time to look at making some big changes.

"You can make a lot of money in Augusta, but it doesn't cost much to live here...and it has nice weather," said Randy Lambeth. Lambeth says the city's forecast is a big deal. He has lived in Augusta all his life. He was front and center as Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver predicted bright days in his state of the city address.

He praised new developments like ADP and T.Mobile, the Augusta Mall, and the new airport terminal. At time a when Augusta seems to be setting sail the mayor wants a review of the way the city does business.

"A large cruise ship needs to be dry docked every 15 or 20 years, and they need to consult the captain, the engineers, the owners, as well as the passengers to make a better ship," said Lambeth.

But some say the mayor may be rocking the boat asking for more power.The power to vote and veto, and for the city administrator to hire and fire. "You've gotta look at we've accomplished. We're doing great stuff. We're getting things done. Can we move to the next...level sure? Is it necessary for me to have firing and hiring power to do that...that's a decision that the commission needs to make," said city administrator Fred Russell.

"I feel like the administrator should be able to run the day to day operations of the city. I think that's key. Once again when you've got no centralized authority you've got no centralized accountability." Even still Rep. Quincy Murphy says the chair of the legislative delegation says..."Review is one thing...change is another. This is an explosive issue. If the charter is changed it could provide an unfair advantage for one portion of the community."

"I'm just asking for us to look at it, and see how we can adjust it to make it function more efficiently and once again that goes top to bottom," said Mayor Copenhaver.

What next? Representative Murphy says he looks forward to talking one on one with the mayor. The delegation would have to approve any changes. That means...both senators, and 4 of the 5 house members would have to sign off on a resolution.