So, Columbia County taxpayers, did you hear that sound Wednesday? Something like a big thump? Right about mid-afternoon, coming from Augusta?
That was the sound of the other shoe dropping.
It fell when Augusta City Administrator Fred Russell opened up his plan for Augusta's next sales tax referendum. When he shook the paperwork, the other shoe dropped: Absent from his plan is any money for renovation of Augusta's Civic Center.
There are still some folks, including Civic Center manager Larry Rogers, fantasizing about the idea of $29 million materializing to revamp the tired, too-small old building in downtown Augusta. Most people have long since figured out there's little community support for throwing good money after bad - which is why Russell's sales-tax plan doesn't include money for perfume to pour on the Civic Center hog.
This lack of financing represents the metaphorical "other shoe" because if Augusta forked over the money to revamp their Civic Center, any thought of building a new entertainment and sports arena in Columbia County would be dead. Many people are skeptical that the community can support the new arena; certainly it couldn't support two of them.
This past week, Columbia County's arena study committee released its final report, which supports a continued effort to determine the feasibility of building a new arena - 12,000 or more seats, probably in the Grovetown area of Interstate 20. The committee did a thorough, commendable job, and their report (available at the county office) should be required reading for skeptical taxpapers and arena-supporters alike.
In the meantime, while Augusta's infrastructure continues to sag, Columbia County will continue to ponder the arena idea and plan for the future.
After all, the shoe must go on.
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