Augusta voters will decide on Tuesday whether to borrow $4.5 million


AUGUSTA — Augusta voters are set to vote Tuesday on a proposal to borrow $4.5 million to buy a new fire truck, make pedestrian safety upgrades, repair the now-closed upper deck of the parking lot at the city ​​and repave or rebuild several city streets.

The single-item referendum would provide the money for planned capital improvement projects for Augusta, some in the coming year, such as the purchase of the fire truck for $625,000, while also setting aside funds for longer-term projects, like $200,000 this year and another $200,000 over each of the next two years to rebuild the city’s only public tennis courts in the near future.

City Manager Susan Robertson said polls are expected to be open in each of the city’s four voting wards from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

“I encourage everyone to come out and vote,” Robertson said.

Augusta Fire Department Chief Dave Groder said the new fire truck will replace Engine 4, a 1994 model.

The bond includes $750,000 for a project that would eventually pay for repairs to the city parking garage off Dickman Street, just above downtown Water Street, to allow the garage’s upper deck, which has been closed for a few years due to deterioration, to be reopened for use.

Development director Matt Nazar said those funds would be supplemented by $100,000 already earmarked for the work. And the city’s five-year, $28.7 million capital improvement plan includes $30,000 per year, in fiscal years 2024 through 2026, for repairs to the parking garage.

Over five years, this plan includes more than $2 million in work on sidewalks, crosswalks and other pedestrian safety projects, including extending sidewalks on Civic Center Drive and improving crosswalks. walkway on Water Street.

The plan also includes $35,000 this year and $135,000 in fiscal year 2023 to design a proposed new sidewalk on a section of Cony Road, in the area where three people, including a one-year-old girl, have been killed last May while walking along the road. , where there is no sidewalk.

Officials said projects in the first year of the plan are firm, but projects in five years are only projected. Funding priorities may change before they are processed.

The capital improvement plan does not include funds that need to be borrowed to build a new police station, which voters last year approved to borrow $20.5 million.

Another $200,000 of the proposed bond proposal would go to replacing the Dr. Melendy Tennis Courts, six courts near the Buker Community Center that are Augusta’s only remaining outdoor courts. The expenses are part of the $600,000 expected to be spent on court reparations over three years.

The tennis courts, which have cracks, some covered in weeds and wildflowers, are in such poor condition that Cony High School has been unable to host tennis matches on site.

Street projects funded by the bond include $670,000 to rebuild Cushnoc Drive; $475,000 as the city’s 50% share to rebuild Bog Road; $430,000 to rebuild Highland Avenue; and $300,000 to repave other city streets.

Interest on the proposed bonds over their estimated 20 years would total about $830,000, bringing the estimated cost to about $5.3 million, according to the referendum question.

The city’s polling places are: Ward 1, Buker Community Center, 22 Armory St.; Ward 2, Augusta City Center, 16 Cony St.; Ward 3, Augusta Civic Center, 76 Community Drive; and Ward 4, Cony High School, 60 Pierce Drive.

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