Butler County Times Gazette
  • Petition certified, Augusta City Council will be forced to call a vote to decide Charter Ordinance Amendment

  • The election will cost the city of Augusta more than $10,000.
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  • City Clerk Erica Jones said that the Butler County Election Office has certified the a petition was filed Friday afternoon to challenge a Charter Ordinance passed October 10, 2013.
    The petition included 99 names that were allowed and only 8 that were allowed. That is more than 10 percent of the voters in the previous municipal election so the Augusta City Council will have 30 days to set an election that must be held within 60 days of when it is set.
    The election will cost the city of Augusta more than $10,000.
    The charter ordinance passed 6-2 with then City Councilor Mike Wallace absent, Sue Jones and Matt Malone voting no and Mayor Kristey Williams being allowed to vote because of the nature of the issue.
    The amendment did not take any action but it would allow the governing body to raise the Augusta Guest Tax beyond five percent and would allow for the funds it raises to be used for purposes other than merely tourism and promotion of events that promote hotel traffic.
    The amendment would allow the council to consider allowing a provision to return the guest tax to a developer of a new hotel in the city for management and construction costs.
    That provision was cited by Jones as to why she opposed the measure in October. Malone said he wanted a concrete plan before voting yet on an amendment to the city's charter.
    However the other six on the board voted yes to keep the prospect of bringing in a new hotel alive.
    Without the amendment, it would be impossible for the city council to even consider some of the concessions the Raju Sheth and the local investment group promoting the new hotel are requesting.
    "This is a no harm step," Mayor Williams said of the October vote. She pointed out that approving the amendment did not change the hotel tax rate or how it would be spent, it merely allowed that latitude if the governing body chose to in the future.
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