Though it’s right there (you can even find places like Hephzibah and Blythe on the map), people seem to need constant reminding that south Augusta actually exists.
Recently, GRU’s president, Dr. Ricardo Azziz, was taken on a tour of south Augusta and apparently found the trip eye opening. Not only that, but it took a lot longer than he thought it would — not because he was anxious to get back to his house on the Hill, but because the southern part of Richmond County is just so damn big.
It’s not just big, but it’s dependent, too. Hephzibah, for instance, doesn’t charge any property taxes, which means it pretty much gives stuff away to its residents that the rest of us have to pay for, like street lights. Fire service. Police.
Because of that, the people of south Augusta depend heavily on SPLOST funding, and all the uncertainty about the current SPLOST package has them feeling more than a little unsettled.
“We’re glad some of the commissioners that are so opposed to it only have one vote,” one prominent official has said, especially since this particular package has a lot set aside for south Augusta. A recreational water park. An agricultural center. Lots of infrastructure. A fire station. Police equipment. A library.
Hephzibah, which seems to feel exceptionally blessed by this SPLOST package, will likely turn out strong in support because, while nobody likes to spend extra money, they know firsthand how important the extension of the penny tax is.
Not everyone does, however, and judging from the mayoral race, it’s very likely that the next mayor won’t, either.
It’s two weeks before the scheduled May 20 election and not one mayoral candidate has visited a Hephzibah function.
Talk about reinforcing the chip on south Augusta’s shoulder.
Maybe the candidates need a refresher in the political structure of Richmond County. Though people live in towns like Hephzibah and Blythe, they do get to vote for mayor. You’d think that in this crowded election, where every vote puts you that much closer to a runoff, every vote would matter.
Unless the courts rule none of it matters.