Most voters will stay away from arena bond referendum

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AUGUSTA, GA (WJBF)  The proposed new arena is seen as one of the largest civic projects in Augusta’s history dependent on the approval of a bond referendum where it’s expected the vast majority of Augusta voters will not be taking part.  

Crews were hard at work, putting in the voting machines at May Park for Tuesday’s referendum, but elections officials say voters should have it easy on Tuesday. 

“I think voters can expect a real quick trip in an out of their polling place tomorrow we won’t see any lines,” said Elections Director Lynn Bailey. 

 May Park will be one of the 42 polling sites open Tuesday.  

To hold this arena referendum the city is spending 152 thousand dollars, for an election where as many as 90 percent of the city’s registered voters could stay away. 

“Turnout will be ten percent or less based on what we’ve seen in advanced voting and through the mail, so there’s been a little more interest than we saw in the SPLOST referendum back in March but not a whole lot,” said Bailey.  

 Supporters say checking yes for a new arena is something the voters need to make happen. 

“We’ve got a building that’s obsolete, it needs to be replaced to get the amenities that most folks want in a modern arena, we got to do this,” said Coliseum Authority Co-Chairman Brad Usry 

 But many are saying no, we don’t. pointing to the fact that property taxes will go up by almost 100 dollars for every 100 thousand dollars assessed value. and the payments are scheduled to last for thirty years until 2051. 

“We understand people’s concerns and we’re going to continue to look for other funding mechanisms even after the vote passes people can have confidence that the coliseum Authority is going to work to get this bond paid down,” said Usry. 

Bailey says with the expected low turnout county the votes should come quickly on Tuesday night then will know  if the skyline of downtown Augusta will undergo a massive change in Augusta George Eskola WJBF NewsChannel 6.  

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