AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Augusta’s budget talks are off to a rocky start after Mayor’ Johnson’s proposal to have each city department present model budgets reflecting 5% and 10% cuts fails to get support.
“It was not an implementation of a 5% and 10% budget cut. It was just a model just to see how those reductions would affect their abilities to service our constituents and to see if it would include any staff reductions,” said Mayor Johnson.
Commissioner Jordan Johnson was not in favor, questioning the timing.
“We’re not even within the process right now to start talking about cutting budgets within the local government. That’s just simply not how the budget cycle works,” said Commissioner Johnson.
“I’m disappointed. I think it’s the right thing to do especially during tough times like this,” said the mayor.
But as city leaders debate budget cuts, there is a push for budget increases to get the grass cut.
Inmate crews take care of a lot of cutting on right of ways and cemeteries, but a shortage of guards is keeping a lot of crews off the job. So, city leaders are pushing for a pay increase to hire and retain officers so more inmate crews can work.
“You start saving the taxpayer dollars from having to outsource these companies to do the grass cutting and cleanout the ditches and the retentions, which is very important,” said Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle
And a budget increase to increase grass cutting does have support.
“To address the issue that we constantly receive concerns about mowing right of ways, I certainly believe we need more inmate crews,” said Mayor Johnson.
Budget season is a difficult time for city leaders no matter how they cut it.