TEE Center agreement reached, Mason hopes "lessons learned" - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

TEE Center agreement reached, Mason hopes "lessons learned"

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After months and months of debating and negotiating, the city of Augusta has reached an agreement with Augusta Riverfront, LLC on running the TEE Center, with a 6-3 approving vote at Thursday's Commission meeting.

"Is it a perfect deal? No," says District 2 Commissioner Corey Johnson. "But we have flexibility now."


The flexibility Johnson is talking about comes down to management and catering.

The management contract is now for 15 years, with an option out for each side after five years.

Also, caterers will pay their own utilities and the city of Augusta receives some payment based on gross receipts.

Johnson says it's the best deal for Augusta. 

"You can negotiate your whole life, but when you get comfortable enough with the situation, you can move forward with it," says Johnson. "That's what we did here tonight."


Other commissioners aren't so happy. The most vocal of them is District 4 Commissioner Alvin Mason.

In a process that involved several new deals and changes to the terms of the contract, Mason isn't happy with the way his colleagues handled the negotiations.

"There have been certain Commissioners on this Commission who have voted for those agreements every time," Mason says. "Think about where we'd be if they had voted and passed the very first one. We would have committed this government to a large deficit."


But Johnson says the negotiations helped minimize the losses the TEE Center would create for the city. 

"When this thing first started out, the losses was projected to be about $900,000," says Johnson. "Now we've reduced that significantly down to about three or four hundred thousand, and we have enough in the tourism fee to fund that."


Mason says he hopes the best for the convention center.

But he wants the city and its leaders to take a lesson from this process. 

"We need to learn from this so moving forward futuristically that we don't have these same issues in the future," Mason says.

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