Tens of thousands would pay more for street lights

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – For most on Lake Terrance Drive in the Bedford neighborhood, the biggest concern now about street lights is ‘do they work’ not their cost on the tax bills.

“I don’t remember what it is, I was trying to remember after I seen what they wanted to do, raise it up that high,” said Dennis Burns who has lived on Terrance Drive for 28 years.

Those looking to raise the fee are members of the commission streetlight sub-committee, because right now fees are coming hundreds of thousands of dollars short.

So a standard $100 a year fee is on the table.

‘That could be an increase for thousands of people?’

“It could also be a decrease for thousands of people,” answered Commissioner Sammie Sias who chairs the subcommittee.

But not for hundreds in Bedford. A map shows what each property pays for street lights. We found only one property owner paying more than $100.

Along Terrance Drive, most pay $25 or $26.

So a $100 a year increase would be drastic.

“I don’t like that, so I don’t know what the answer is but I think it’s ridiculous raising the rates that much,” said Barry Robinette, who has lived on Terrance Drive for 28 years.

“It just doesn’t seem right that they would raise the street lights up that much of all the years we’ve been paying we’ve been paying,” said Burns.

But most in Augusta would pay more.

Numbers from the Tax Commissioner show out of 42 thousand tax bills only four percent pay more than $100 for street lights, so if approved this would increase streetlight fees for 96 percent of these taxpayers.

“If they’re going to go up like their talking about going up I am concerned that’s ridiculous,” said Robinette/

The street light fund needs $6.1 million to break even but according to Finance Department figures the $100 fee for residents and a $200 street light fee for businesses would bring in about $7.8 million.

Creating a surplus that would go to maintaining the street light system.

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