AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF) – This is not unusual in Augusta, a road where residents do not see the lights.
“It’s completely dark out here at night,” said Patricia Lowe.
“Would you like to see some streetlights?”
“I certainly would for my mother and other elderly people,” said Lowe.
Commissioners are budgeting $6 million in Rescue Act funds for new streetlights, but also to fill in the shortfall in the program, because the current method of paying for lights does not cover the costs.
City leaders say more lights are needed.
“We definitely need them, and I’ve been fighting to get streetlights in an area in District 3 for two streets for well over a year,” said Commissioner Catherine Smith McKnight.
Finance officials tell commissioners, if they want to use all $6 million in Rescue Act money for new lights, and not the shortfall, then new fees are needed.
The proposal would increase both residential and commercial fees.
But for the first time those not paying for lights now would get a $50 dollar fee.
“It’s finances recommendation to go ahead and adjust the rate structure sooner than later, that eliminates using some of our allocation that would be funding your deficit and you could put that back into expanding the system,” said Finance Director Donna Williams.
That would mean people without lights would be paying new fees this year but would likely not be getting new lights.
“We got elderly people who live on this road, and they are all on fixed incomes and we really can’t afford $50 dollars a year,” said Lowe.
Some commissioners are also not in favor of increasing fees this year.
“Let’s get the lights up and do what we have to do, and then we can work from there with rates,” said Commissioner McKnight.
There are federal dollars to put in new streetlights but that is coming with a higher light bill.