RICHMOND COUNTY, G.A. (WFXG) - AUGUSTA'S 2023 FISCAL YEAR BUDGET HAS BEEN APPROVED. AFTER WEEKS OF NEGOTIATION IN THE MAKING, CITY LEADERS WERE ABLE TO APPROVE THE NEW BUDGET on tuesday afternoon.

the city budget passed 8-1. AUGUSTA COMMISSIONERS SAY IT’S FAR FROM PERFECT. BUT, THEY ARE pleased WITH THE RESULTs. DISTRICT 3 COMMISSIONER, CATHERINE SMITH MCKNIGHT says in part, “I WASN’T KEEN ON EVERY SINGLE ITEM THAT WAS PUT IN THERE." "aT THE END OF THE DAY, I WENT AHEAD AND SUPPORTED THE BUDGET...WE CAN ALSO GO BACK AND LOOK AT THIS IN JANUARY AND DO SOME TWEaKING IF WE NEED TO.”

LEADERS WERE ABLE TO GENERATE nearly $500,00 TOWARDS IMPROVED PAY FOR THE PUBLIC DEFENDER AND THE District attorney's Offices. “THESE WERE SOME SERIOUS REQUESTS, TRYING TO MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVE ATTORNEYS IN PLACE THAT CAN HANDLE THE CASELOADS PRESENTED TO THEM," says DISTRICT 8 COMMISSIONER, BRANDON GARRETT. "ONE OF THE THINGS WE ARE SEEING IS THAT LAWYERS AREN’T LEAVING THE CITY TO GO INTO PRIVATE PRACTICE, THEY ARE GOING TO OTHER COUNTIES THAT PAY MORE."

Garrett says Those aren't the only EFFORTs towards RETAINing LOCAL talent. it also extends to MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES. “THERE WAS SOME FUNDING THAT WAS INCREASED FOR SERENITY MENTAL HEALTH," he says. "AS WE HEARD FROM A PRESENTATION EARLIER TODAY, THE MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS IN OUR CITY AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY IS SUBSTANTIAL AND SERENITy is HERE TO FILL SOME OF THOSE GAPS.”

OTHER BUDGET highlights include the Gold cross FUND, which DID NOT INCREASE and will REMAIN THE SAME AS LAST YEARs.

THERE WAS ALSO A NEARLY 7 MILLION INCREASE IN GENERAL FUND SPENDING COMPARED TO LAST YEAR. the general fund is devoted to projects such TRAFFIC MITIGATION, SPECIAL REVENUE AND CAPITAL PROJECTS.

THE NEW BUDGET WILL BE IMPLEMENTED ON JANUARY 1, 2023. you can view the budget in its entirety here.

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