Streetlight fund shortfall has Augusta looking at new fees

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Three years ago, Augusta adjusted its streetlight rates because of a more than $2 million dollar deficit. Today, that deficit is $3 million dollars.

When it comes to paying for streetlights Augusta is looking for a bright idea.

“It’s definitely going to be some changes going on to make sure we have a balanced budget on the streetlights. We’re in the early stages of those discussions,” says Commissioner Sean Frantom.

The street light subcommittee says despite fee changes, three years ago the streetlight fund is right at $3 million dollars in the hole.

The subcommittee is looking at proposals that would charge all residential property owners a 100-dollar streetlight fee, even if they live in areas where there are no streetlights.

“No streetlight is personal to any person, but they are all required and needed on roads. That’s the whole objective of this subcommittee is to work out a plan so we can equitably provide streetlight service to all residents of Augusta Richmond County,” said Commissioner Sammie Sias.

“Adding this to everybody’s bill, I don’t think this is the correct way to go,” said Commissioner Brandon Garrett.

“Right now, if you don’t have a light, you don’t pay, it would be a 100-dollar new fee.

“Right, I’m not in favor of that,” said Garrett.

City Administrator Odie Donald says in next year’s budget, general fund money can be used to reduce much of the shortfall.

But with a growing city and a desire to add streetlights costs will increase so adjustments will be needed.  

“It’s not working how we have it set up it’s got to change I don’t know if it’s necessarily fair to across the board do something,” said Commissioner Frantom.

“One way or another, we need to eliminate the deficit and we also need to provide better streetlight service,” said Commissioner Sias.

Now Augusta has really been battling its deficit in its streetlight fund since 2015, this isn’t an easy solve but this committee is going to meet again next month.


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