AP NEWS

North Augusta voters to be asked about bond along with CPST

October 30, 2018 GMT

Throughout the county next week, voters will be deciding on whether to continue the 1 percent Capital Projects Sales Tax for the fourth time, including North Augusta residents. Those in North Augusta will have a second question regarding CPST, though, about issuing bonds to pay for the city’s No. 1 priority project.

If passed, North Augusta would receive $30,700,000 from CPST IV, with $11,500,000 designated for the design, development and construction of a new Public Safety Headquarters and apparatus. The second question, for North Augustans only, would be whether the city should be authorized to issue general obligation bonds worth $10,250,000 to pay for the headquarters.

The bond would allow the city to begin the process of constructing a new headquarters immediately, instead of waiting three or four years to accumulate enough money, according to North Augusta Mayor Bob Pettit.

Capital Projects Sales Tax proceeds would “absolutely” be used to pay off the bond, said City Administrator Todd Glover.

“Basically, boiled down, that question is ‘If the sales tax passes, can the city use the sales tax to pay off a bond to build (Public Safety Headquarters)?’ I wish it could be worded that simply,” Glover said.

North Augusta’s Department of Public Safety is currently working out of two buildings on East Buena Vista Avenue. The city owns land off Georgia Avenue for the purpose of siting the headquarters and associated fire station there. After hearing from residents for about two and a half hours during a meeting in May, the Planning Commission voted against the city’s application to rezone the land, which is the location of the historic Seven Gables and Palmetto Lodge.

Pettit said the decision about the location of Public Safety wouldn’t be decided before the Nov. 6 CPST vote, but said the main two options are the Seven Gables property or the city’s current Community Center, which is located on East Buena Vista Avenue across from the current headquarters.

Pettit said CPST provides a huge resource to accomplish things that otherwise wouldn’t be accomplished without a significant increase in property taxes.

The city’s current property tax rate is 73.5 mills. Pettit said to accomplish everything on the list without CPST would hypothetically require a tax increase to 110 mills.

“If Capital Projects Sales Tax doesn’t happen, look at what’s not going to get done for the city, and I think without it, without the Capital Projects Sales Tax, and if taxes are not substantially raised, I think the city from a growth perspective, and a renewal perspective, will stagnate for five to seven years,” he said.

The countywide revenue from CPST IV is estimated at around $163 million, and must be passed countywide.

“I believe because of the importance of this to the quality of life and quality of service in this city, that the citizens will say ‘yes we agree’ and that this is important enough that this will pass,” Pettit said.

The rest of the money that would come from CPST IV is allocated to Martintown Road/U.S. 1 intersection design and improvements; downtown pedestrian and vehicular traffic safety improvements; undergrounding utilities along Georgia Avenue; road reconstruction and resurfacing; New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam improvements; Activities Center improvements; Creighton Park improvements; Community Center upgrades; Greeneway improvements; downtown Greeneway connector; wastewater improvements; stormwater improvements; gateway and wayfinding improvements; financial software; Municipal Building updates; and Financial Department lobby improvements.