Augusta's Mayor Defends Development Project Despite Funding Shor - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

Augusta's Mayor Defends Development Project Despite Funding Shortfall

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Augusta, GA -

Augusta's Mayor is defending the development in Augusta's historic neighborhoods despite blowing out the budget.

The Augusta Housing and Development Department needs a $2.5 million loan to continue work redeveloping the Laney Walker and Bethlehem neighborhoods.

In three years, nearly $8 million has been spent on the project. The city is relying on hotel taxes to pay for the work, but those dollars haven't been able to keep pace.

"Right now, we're falling a little short. I will admit that, but when you look at what happened to the national economy...as the local economy continues to pick up, we'll see those numbers continue to pick up. They've been good, but they will get stronger, so I don't think this is a long term issue," says Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

Some Augusta Commissioners are criticizing the project for spending more than $2 million on consultants and marketing over the past three years.

City leaders will take up the loan request next week. If approved, the city could take the money out of reserves and then when bonds are sold in 2015, those dollars would be replaced.

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