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Columbia County Leaders Take Beginning Steps to Become a City

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – Leaders in Columbia County are looking at the possibility of establishing a city outside of Harlem and Grovetown.

Right now, those are the only two cities in the county. The rest are unincorporated communities.

There could be a study looking at what it could look like if Columbia County were to become its own city.

Leaders hope once this study goes out, it’ll come back with clear information on how Columbia County becoming a city may look. They are optimistic the study will show the pros outweigh the cons.

“There would not be an additional layer of government. There would not be any additional taxes. This would be a means to lower taxes,” said Columbia County Manager Scott Johnson.

But some residents are skeptical. Lee Muns says he doesn’t see any benefits to the change.

“Governance-wise, no. Sheriff’s department-wise, no. Fire department-wise, no. Water and sewer, no,” he said.

Johnson says this change wouldn’t impact the way the current government and sheriff’s office do things. Johnson says there are negatives to this.

“The cities of Harlem and Grovetown, they would have the same land area that they have today,” he said.

The bill for a study can go up to $100,000. Something Johnson says is well worth the price tag.

“We’re looking for an efficiency and functionality study. It has to do with consolidation and cooperation,” he said.

This isn’t the first time this has been attempted. The county has looked into this as early as 2006, and the county as a whole becoming a city isn’t the normal way of doing things.

“It’s never been done exactly the way Columbia County would have to do it before. We are very much an anomaly. So I think it is a heavy lift,” said Johnson.

For some, they wished communication was a little clear about the move the county is making.

Muns said: “At the end of the day, you need to do a very good job of explaining the wholesale change to the community before you start putting that out there.”

Johnson says the study isn’t where this would end. Afterward, the county is looking to make sure they hold public input meetings for all voices to be heard.

All that would be before Columbia County will look to make this legislation that will go through the statehouse. Then it would be on the ballot for voters to decide. This vote won’t be for another year to a year and a half.

Source: WRDW News