Charter committee proposal has opposition


AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF) – Before 1996, Augusta and Richmond County were two governments. Now, 25 years since consolidation, the mayor thinks it’s time for a blue ribbon commission to study government structure, the powers of the mayor, administrator and the commission…and of course their salaries.

Some city leaders don’t understand why are their salaries are being discussed right now.

“We cannot vote ourselves a raise. That discussion takes place at the state level, just like what’s happening currently with the Richmond County Board of Education. I think that is what the discussion is really focused on,” said Commissioner Brandon Garrett.

What Mayor Davis wants to focus on is the creation of a blue ribbon commission to look at the structure of the government, saying other consolidated governments in Georgia have done this.

“When you look at communities like Athens or Columbus, they have these similar blue ribbon panels who review these efforts and it’s done in a very thoughtful but a very public and transparent way. That’s what I have consistently said, that’s what I want to see happen,” said Mayor Hardie Davis.

But some commissioners are suspicious of the mayor’s proposal for a blue ribbon commission looking at new powers for the mayor’s office, and salaries.

“The mayor’s main concern, I believe, is to have a stronger mayor with a position of veto or more power to call the shots,” said Commissioner John Clarke.

“I don’t see a reason we need to have somebody else looking in on it. I don’t think we need to be doing any of it right now,” said Commissioner Catherine Smith McKnight.

“If this is the time that we’re going to take a look at the charter, let’s do it in a very well organized way, and I’m not sure that this blue ribbon panel, whatever that really means, is the correct way to do it,” said Commissioner Garrett.

When it comes to proposals on the table, it would put the commission salaries between $30 and 40 thousand dollars. The mayor’s salary between $150 and 160 thousand dollars.

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