AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Panhandling in Augusta is an easy problem to see, but fixing it is not.
“We asked for a solution. We’re up here begging for a solution so give us a solution,” said Commissioner Sean Frantom.
Commissioners made little progress at Wednesday’s panhandling work session.
“Overall, just frustrating. I mean people want to see action,” said Commissioner Frantom.
City leaders head back to work on finding ways to combat panhandling. They’ve asked the Law Department to look at ordinances from Columbia County and Charleston, to see if similar ones could be enacted in Augusta. But the Law Department says it’s a legal dead end.
“There has been no ordinance that has been upheld since 2015 across the entire United States,” said City Attorney Sam Meller.
“Are we wasting our time here trying to come up with solutions? When we’re asking our legal representation for solutions, they’re not willing to give us any,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Brandon Garrett.
City leaders will vote next week on creating the Give Change That Counts program, a $25,000 marketing campaign to get people to donate to charities instead of handing their money to panhandlers.
“I think that a $25,000 ask is a bit much for a PR campaign. I’m willing to try it, but I think that money could be put into programs that would help us be proactive,” said Commissioner Jordan Johnson.
“It’s been successful in Savannah. We’ll give it a try anything is better than we’re doing right now,” said Frantom.