AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF) – Agreements with neighborhoods to run groups to run city rec centers are not new, some go back more than 20 years, but major issues at one of these centers now have city officials looking at bringing these agreements to an end.
The 1998 agreement with the Sand Ridge Community Association to run Jamestown is signed by then association president Sammie Sias.
Years later Sias would be accused by the Jamestown manager of pocketing thousands of dollars in sales tax funds, and that’s troubling for taxpayers.
“To get a handle on this thing, we should let the city do it and let them take over a lot of things. That would be nicer and neater in the community if the city was made to do that,” said Brian Ross.
That’s what some commissioners are pushing, ending the three agreements where neighborhood groups run Augusta rec centers.
“All three that I’m looking at should come back into the city to make sure the city is receiving the funds, make sure the city has accountability and make sure the city is running it properly,” said Commissioner Alvin Mason.
Along with Jamestown, where there have been issues, community groups are also running the Johnson rec center and Eastview center, some commissioners though are concerned about lumping all three together.
“If there is a community center in question, we should deal with that community center. I don’t think we should have a conversation about community centers as a whole, because everyone doesn’t fall under that same category,” said Commissioner Jordan Johnson.
“Each entity is an individual entity on its own and one maybe run a little bit better than the other. At the same time you have the Recreation Department and that we hope if we bring them back in would run them all the same,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Bobby Williams.
The city pays the utilities at these centers and provides part time help but when they’re rented out the money goes to the community groups and not Augusta.
City leaders will wait for a report from the Administrator before making a decision. However the Rec Department is saying it’s able and willing to take over the operations of these centers.