Augusta city leaders seeking feedback on next year’s budget

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 8:27 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta city leaders are working on next year’s budget and for the first time they want you to weigh in on how money’s spent.

The city of Augusta actually lost revenue for this year’s budget due to the loss in tax revenue caused by the pandemic. But in planning for 2022 leaders have $82 million from the American Rescue Plan to plan for along with the general budget income.

The estimate right now is a general fund budget of $175 million in 2022. Money in the general fund go towards services including infrastructure, recreation, public safety, economic development, and government finance. The task facing leaders in the weeks ahead is how they plan to spend it.

From a budget shortfall this year, to $82 million dollars added in the pool for 2022 the possibilities and the opinions are endless.

“I think number one, people are concerned about the appearance of the city” said Commissioner Ben Hasan, District 6.

“There’s a substantial amount of homeless individuals in Augusta, I think now is the time to fund some type of remediation project” said Commissioner Jordan Johnson, District 1.

Augusta leaders have until November to plan a budget for 2022. This time the general fund budget which is about 22 percent of the entire city budget of around $800 million, will now have the added American Rescue Plan money to help.

But before commissioners vote on a budget, the city administrator has to draft one. The administrator already has a proposal for how they’ll spend ARP funds. He suggest about $4 million for affordable housing and blight. Over $10 million dedicated to specific water and drainage projects. $1.2 million towards a three year small business resource center and more.

There are also priorities commissioners agreed on that don’t have a price tag yet. Like beginning a multimillion dollar broad street and riverfront renovation project.

“That’s gonna be a do-over for broad street and what it looks like,” said Commissioner Hasan.

Establishing a $15 minimum wage for city employees and funding a mental health unit for the sheriff’s office.

“These projects are important because they’re critical pieces to the puzzle where growth is concerned for our city,” said Commissioner Johnson.

Not all of these projects will be funded through the general budget. The ARP funds can be used for tax revenue projects as well. But the city is seeking your input for how to spend the estimated $175 million in the general budget. The city has another interactive budget forum in two weeks on the 27th.

To fill out the survey visit FY22 Budget Public Engagement Survey.

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