TEE Center parking deck agreement struck down again, this time with numbers
The management agreement for the TEE Center parking deck was up for commission approval once again and once again it failed to gain approval. Only this time, the brush back seemed to come with a little substance.
Commissioner Joe Bowles pulled out his accountant’s pencil, did some figuring and showed the rest of the commission what he found.
Taking his papers to the projector so everyone in the commission chambers could see, he pointed to a section of the agreement that supposedly showed Augusta Riverfront LLC’s rent offsetting their income.
“That’s flat out incorrect,” he said. “That $50,000 is coming out of the base rent, so it’s coming out before net income is derived.”
That may have been accountant talk to many in the chambers, but he continued showing numbers that seemed to support his argument that the agreement proposed by Riverfront LLC was a good one… for Riverfront LLC.
“You’ve got $50,000 of income for Riverfront LLC and you’ve got $16,000 of income for the city of Augusta, who built the deck and who is responsible for any losses,” he said. “That’s not a partnership, Mr. Mayor. That’s handing it to the taxpayers of Augusta.”
Several commissioners have been critical of the agreement hammered out between the city and Riverfront LLC, but most of the criticism has been unfocused and vague. A good deal of it still centers around the complex financial dealings surrounding the air rights issue and the idea of criminal wrongdoing, which has made headlines and delayed the agreement, but has failed to make much of an impact.
Bowles, however, calmly let his numbers do the talking.
“The previous contracts were a share where the city gets 70 percent and the management company gets 30 percent, which would have given Augusta $160,000 and the management company $43,000,” he said. “You look at what’s being proposed — we both get $123,000, even though the taxpayers of Augusta funded this facility.”
Paul Simon was scheduled to appear earlier in the meeting, but he emailed Clerk of Commission Lena Boner requesting his request to speak be deleted from the agenda.
Speaking for many on the commission, Bowles expressed further disapproval for the way the negotiations have been handled, particularly the way requested information was not delivered in a useable form.
“This is the kind of comparison we all need to see — and I think it was requested to see them side by side,” he said. “Instead, we get numbers that are more of a shell game. I’m sick of spending time on weekends going through all of this, fighting for the taxpayers of Augusta, when this body requested comparisons and we’ve never really gotten an apples to apples comparison.”
He gave his papers to Administrator Fred Russell while Mayor Deke Copenhaver suggested another work session.
Similarly aggressive, Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle took issue with attorney Jim Plunkett.
“I had numerous meetings with our outside attorney, and I just don’t get the answers I need to hear,” he said. “I just don’t get what I should be hearing.”
He also didn’t feel the deal was an equitable one.
“I know that a contract should be a compromise where both sides come together and meet in the middle,” he said. “I’m not saying I’m not for this parking deck, but until we get this agreement in order, I won’t be moving forward with it, either.”You Might Also Like: