20 years of Augusta’s consolidation government talk about damning with faint praise.
“Now whether it was the best idea or the worst idea the fact of the matter is we had to do something,” says former State Senator Charles Walker.
“It was full of good intentions but the execution of it left a lot to be desired and still to this day twenty years later does,” says former Mayor Bob Young
“It was the equivalent of a shotgun wedding you know,” says former Richmond County Commissioner Moses Todd.
“Considering the time it which it was passed we couldn’t have done anything else,” says Attorney David Hudson.
Former State Senator Charles Walker was one of the leaders behind the creation of the conditional bill, saying ands says it was not created under the best of circumstances
Absolutely if there is one distinguished characteristic that is was drafted under the cloud of fear and distrust,” said Walker.
Moses Todd was a county commissioner when the consolidation bill was approved and says it worried many in the minority community.
“They were concerned that they were going to get bamboozle and hoodwinked on the deal,” says Todd.
So why create a consolidated government.
Lawyer David Hudson who helped draft the bill says it was about economics and the terrible financial condition of the old city government.
“The finances of the city we’re not good the tax base was eroding people were moving out of the city limits there was no new industrial expansion within the city limits,” said Hudson.
“It was not going to help anybody for the city to go broke or bankrupt or the city to be taken over by the state,” says Todd.
The determining factor was the economic survival of our community with a city in bankruptcy it would have destroyed industry and a whole lot of stuff in Augusta,” says Walker.
But the resulting government has had its own issues gridlock and bickering, with the mayor powers limited to basically only voting to break a tie.
Walker says the weak mayor was by design.
“The mayor in the city of Augusta had all the powers and he spent everything we had and broke the city,” says Walker.
“Would it work better if the mayor had more power well the city of Augusta the mayor had more power how did that work out for us,” says Todd.
It’s been 20 years of consolidation so should this government stay this way for the next twenty, even some of those who help create it no don’t think so.
“It’s not a good model to have ten commissioners micro-managing the affairs of the government,” says Hudson.
So does that need to change and how do you go about getting a better model government.