To cut or not to cut: Augusta leaders debate biggest budget to date
AUGUSTA, Ga. -
The clock is ticking to approve Augusta's largest budget to date set at well over a billion dollars. The budget proposal for 2024 calls for a 5% increase in spending. Commissioners remain divided on how to move forward with it.
On the table is a motion to cut 2% from the proposal for all city departments including enterprise funds, non governmental organizations, outside agencies and elected official's budgets. Commissioner Sean Frantom says all that money will then be put into a reserve fund.
"We've never cut in this government, it's time that we start cutting, it's time that we show the people that we're focused on the best use of money," the district 7 commissioner says. "They'll have the ability to get the money again through six votes in July, if needed."
Once American Rescue Plan funds run out in late 2024, Augusta will have a $4 million deficit.
Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle says it's time to start getting proactive.
"I know that some of my colleagues, administrator or whoever is gonna say, well, we're gonna have to cut services," the district 10 commissioner says. "But, they didn't improve service when we increased it by $18 million over these past couple of years. So, exactly what services are we gonna cut?"
Commissioner Bobby Williams are happy with the plan that the interim administrator has laid out, which among other things includes a 3% cost of living adjustment for employees and $300,000 set aside for cyber security enhancements.
"Advice I was given years ago is to find good people and get out the way," the district 5 commissioner says. "That's what we need to do, get out the way."
As the search for a permanent city administrator continues, "...regardless of man, woman, whatever color, let's make sure they've got the qualifications, experience and expertise to help Augusta turn around," Guilfoyle says.
Commissioners are set to approve the budget Tuesday. Fox54 will keep you up to date on what they decide.
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