Concerned citizen behind vote no on arena tax signs wants Augusta to check priorities

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Signs are now popping up around town in opposition to the vote to increase property taxes for a new James Brown Arena.

A concerned citizen in Augusta recently launched a grassroots movement to make sure that those who head to polls for November’s general election vote no to an arena tax.

“It’s just too much money for Augusta to spend right now and especially to ask for its homeowners to pay for these things,” said Michael Thurman, a concerned citizen.

NewsChannel 6 reported last month that the cost for the new arena will be $235 million. That would be funded through bonds. On the November ballot, voters must approve a referendum for a new tax to pay for those bonds. It adds up to about an extra hundred bucks a year tacked onto your tax bill, for every hundred thousand dollars worth of house you own.

We spoke with Cedric Johnson, Coliseum Authority Chairman last month and he said, “A hundred thousand would be roughly 97. 200 thousand would roughly be 180,190 a year the whole year. Again, we’re hoping that the citizens would look at and see the benefit of the economic value.”

Thurman said he’s spoken with about 100 other homeowners and around 95 of them say this tax will hit their pockets. He also said Augusta needs to get its priorities straight, pointing to several issues that need to be addressed before adding a new arena.

Thurman said, “This is a quarter of a billion dollars. We could fill so many potholes, pave so many streets, help so many homeless people, improve the looks of Augusta so people would come. Let’s just say for instance that people come out of town to see an event here. Do you know what the gateways to Augusta look like right now?”

One aspect of the arena that Thurman said may have changed his mind is the location.

“I like the idea of combining with another entity. Whether it’s AU or Columbia County. There’s no reason for Augusta to pay the entire bill,” he explained.

Augusta voters can now cast a ballot for the referendum on the new JBA arena tax now through November 2.

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