At stake was possibly shutting down the renovations of the Augusta Municipal Building, but the Urban Redevelopment Agency (URA) took no action on issuing bonds for the project.
"What the Finance Department told us what might be, or will be, is a $1.5 million to $2 million increment in the cost of the project if we don't move forward," said URA chairman Henry Ingram.
Last March, Augusta Commissioners approved issuing $26 million bonds for the Municipal Building renovations, and under state law the Urban Redevelopment Agency must approve that decision.
But, even with the Finance officials warning delay would stop the project and restating it will add to the costs will be costly, the board tabled the decision to move forward.
"Because I didn't feel comfortable and I could tell my fellow board members didn't feel comfortable moving ahead," said agency member Brad Owens.
The board voted to table the issue until members can meet with Commissioners Tuesday. Former Augusta Mayor Bob Young had no trouble with the delay, not believing the work would need to be shut down.
"The city has a host of funds that they can move around, and borrow money from, and keep the project going. To me, this is scare tactics and I'm not going to be scared into making a decision that could result in a tax increase for the property owners of Augusta," said Young.
Young has other worries: what happens if the SPLOST isn't approved in May. The plan is to pay back the bonds using SPLOST funds, and if that doesn't happen, then property taxes would be needed to pay off the bonds.
Commissioners have already signed off on this plan, but Young says the Urban Redevelopment Agency is not micromanaging that decision. "Nobody here wants to revisit this, nobody here wants to second guess the Commission. We want to make sure everybody has a clear understanding moving forward, particularly when at stake is a $3 million tax increase for the people of the city," he said.
Of course, if SPLOST 7 passes in May, those concerns will also pass. Finance officials also eased their concerns, saying if the agency approves issuing the bonds after meeting with Commissioners Tuesday, work on the Municipal building will not be impacted.
The work session between the URA and Commission is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 18th.
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