Augusta Municipal Building Bonds Approved; Money Available To Pa - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Augusta Municipal Building Bonds Approved; Money Available To Pay Back Interest Through 2018

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Augusta, GA -

It left Augusta city leaders frustrated, while others were in "I told you so" mode when it came to the plan to borrow $28.5 million for the Augusta Municipal Building and depend on the next SPLOST to pay it back.

"I didn't support it from the beginning because there wasn't a plan moving forward. It was speculation, if SPLOST passed. Part of dealing with your budget at home is to make sure you can afford it before you can purchase it," said Commissioner Joe Jackson.
Last March, Augusta Commissioners bought into a plan to renovate the entire Municipal Building by issuing bonds.

The job of approving the bonds fell on the Urban Redevelopment Agency (URA), but members who are appointed by the Commission, question whether if the next phase of the SPLOST fails, a tax increase would be needed to pay off the bonds.

That's not what supporters say they remember.

"If they had mentioned the fact that it would be necessary to raise taxes to get the money for this, I would have had second thoughts on this," said Commissioner Bill Lockett.

For nearly two hours Tuesday, Commissioners debated what to do, and whether it would be better to wait until after the SPLOST vote in May to issue the bonds. But, Augusta Finance Department officials warned that would require shutting down the work, a thought no one supported.

"What do you, do you stop it in mid process, have a lawsuit drug out? Materials go up, you lose labor, the whole infrastructure you have in the ground is not good anymore," said Jackson.

In the end, the URA approved issuing the bonds after getting clarity that even if the SPLOST fails in May, there is funding available to pay off the bonds until May 2018...plenty of time for Commissioners to put the SPLOST back before voters.

"So, there is money there through 2018?" we asked. "Yes," said Dianne McNabb, a city financial consultant. "But after that, would there have to be a tax increase?" we continued. "Not if the next SPLOST is passed," said McNabb. "So, all the talk they would have to raise taxes wasn't true?" we asked. "No," McNabb said.

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