To the Gazette:
Let me start this letter by asking the same question that was asked by Council member Sue Jones during the meeting on Monday: The City of Augusta is governed by what form of government? What is the order of authority between the City Manager, Mayor and Council? What are the duties and responsibilities of each?
It is helpful to understand our form of government to become a more informed voter. Voters should cast ballots based upon the manner in which the elected officials perform their duties.
Last Monday, during the City Council meeting there was discussion during the approval of the Appropriation Ordinance that has me asking questions.
What are Appropriation Ordinances? Prior to the approval of the Appropriation Ordinances members of the council discussed API (Augusta Progress Incorporated). I would appreciate more public awareness of their mission statement and purpose of the organization.
Mayor Williams spoke up to defend API during the meeting. She stated “a current balance of $250,000” available to be used by the organization. Yet, it was voiced that API asked for another $20,000 from city funds. That leads to more questions:
Who appointed or formed the organization?
Who serves on the board of directors?
Who is chairman of the board?
How does the organization obtain funds?
What documented improvements have been made in the last five years that are solely the effort of API?
In accordance with Roberts’ Rules of Order, a presiding officer (Mayor) has the responsibility to remain neutral while chairing meetings. A mayor serves as ex-officio member of all committees without voice or vote. The presiding officer of most organizations does have the right to address the council using appropriate protocol: “The presiding officer turns the meeting over to the Vice Chair to remove themselves from the position of authority, step down, make their comments, and allow the Vice Chair to conduct that portion of the meeting until the specific item in question is completed.”
Council was correct to table any action concerning API until the next meeting in two weeks. It would be beneficial and more appropriate for members of API to appear in person to request funds and to justify their request for $20,000 of additional funding. The API committee should be held to the same standards as other organizations and groups for their voices to be heard in public forum. Are they any different than DAI (Downtown Augusta, Inc.), Augusta Historical Society, Augusta Theatre, Chamber of Commerce, etc. when it comes to funding requests?
The residents of Augusta have the right to know how and by whom our monies are being allocated. Contact your council representative about any issue or concerns. We can voice our opinions to council members because they are our elected representatives (they represent us). However, the City Council has the final word concerning the government of our city.
Page 2 of 2 - Remember that the council meetings are televised over Cox Cable Channel 7. You can view the cable channel or check with the City of Augusta website to obtain council meeting times and dates.