AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - After weeks of debates and public meetings, Augusta officials have finally sealed the deal on the 2017 budget. It took six votes and less than thirty minutes to pass the $788 million Augusta city budget.
City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson said, "I feel very good about the cooperative spirit among our commissioners to move forward and get it passed in a timely fashion."
The budget was balanced and approved by the November 15th deadline. But, not all commissioners walked away from the table feeling satisfied. "It was very vague changes. There was no new report given to us. We basically said we're just going to vote for it and move on. I think we owe the tax payers more discussion," said Commissioner Sean Frantom.
Frantom, along with Guilfoyle were very vocal about their discontent surrounding the $700,000 cut made to the ambulance service provider Gold Cross. That's something Commissioner Ben Hasan said is still on the table. "If we want to pay them and give them a supplement for enhanced services, we can, and we probably will. But, we should not hold our budget up of that process while we're in negotiations with them around that issue," said Hasan.
Officials were able to identify an additional $140,000 from property tax collection and did away with the unpopular fee increase for trash services. Non-governmental organizations like the Department of Health were unable to escape the chop of the ax.
Jackson said it had nothing to do with their services, and everything to do with what the city could afford to maintain. "We had to go through and make decisions about who could continue to operate without revenue from us."
While all parties may not have walked away from the table in agreement, officials said it's never too late to make adjustments to meet the needs of the city.
"The budget is fluid. It always is changing. Things fluctuate," said Hasan.