Augusta Canal National Heritage Area seeks city funding for survival

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The Augusta Canal Authority wants people to reach out to politicians about money after being cut out of the city budget.

So, in order to help the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area the group is making an appeal to people in the CSRA to contact their commissioners.

“Over the last couple of years, our revenue has been dropping. Particularly last year during the pandemic when we had to stop our boat rides and a lot of the outside events that we charge fees for. We ended up losing half a million dollars last year alone,” said the Authority’s Executive Director, Dayton Sherrouse.

He told NewsChannel 6 the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area made a request for $475,000 from the city’s budget back in August. He said even though they are a government entity and maintain several city properties, he recently learned they would not be included in the budget.

“We’re not happy about that and we’re trying to get word to the commissioners that it’s something that we drastically need,” he said.

The Augusta Canal Authority wants people who enjoy its historic and cultural offerings around town to reach out to their local leaders on the commission. Sherrouse added if the city does not help with funding, services will have to stop.

He said of the services, “The streetlights along the trail system, we pay the electric bill on that. The off duty deputies that we hire to provide security out on the trail system, we have to pay that. We spent over $90,000 last year to off duty deputies.”

He adds insurance and restroom maintenance costs too. And notes that the canal helps not only with the quality of life for people in the CSRA, but brings tourists to town.

“It’s something that we need to continue to maintain and expand and draw additional people in for tourism purposes and also for redevelopment of the textile mill buildings to provide jobs and opportunities for people to have employment,” he said adding the King and Sibley Mills are proposed to have offices and loft apartments.

While other funding such as donations are down, Sherrouse said there is still an extensive volunteer base.

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