Committee seeks to fund street lights to ensure safety in Richmond County

Streetlight subcommittee meeting

RICHMOND COUNTY, GA (WFXG) - Streets around Augusta may be a little brighter with street lights. There's just one problem:  money. The Augusta-Richmond County Commission's street light subcommittee is looking at ways to fund the 6 million- dollar project.

A public safety issue could spill over into the bills of Richmond County residents. The streetlight subcommittee doesn't want residents walking or driving in the dark.

Commissioner Dennis Williams said, "When it's dark, I wanna feel secure going into my house without the fear somebody's going to hit me upside my head."

If it sounds familiar, that's because nearly a year ago, commissioners discussed the same topic. It's been an ongoing issue for decades, they say.

Wednesday, they tackled the topic again - presenting several solutions to foot an estimated general yearly cost of $6 million. They are trying to make it work with a 1.2 million dollar deficit in their budget.

"So we know we need to generate at least that much money just to maintain the system. If not, we will end up going into the general fund, or borrowing money, to pay for the streetlights," Commissioner Sias said.

Sias said not everyone in the county currently pays the same cost.

"When you talk about what it presently costs... one of the things is we've had folks pay a varied amount - but it's not enough to pay the bill. What's fair? You spread it out amongst everybody. Some folks bill will go down, some will go up. But we need to spread that out. Safety is everybody's concern."

Under one of the new plans, taxpayers would end up paying around $100 a year. The majority of residents are paying less than that right now.

The goal was to find the cheapest solution for citizens - that also gives them what they need.

"It's just one of those expenses that you have to budget and adjust your income in order to meet your obligations," said Commissioner Dennis Williams.

Commissioner Sias concluded the meeting by saying if Augusta is going to be one of the cyber capitals of the nation, things like street lights have to be in place for the people and businesses coming to the Master's City.

Thursday, The subcommittee will start the process of revising the current streetlight ordinance by asking the commission for approval.

Copyright 2018 WFXG. All rights reserved.