The city of Augusta is continuing to accept proposals from individuals who want to lobby for the city in Atlanta.
The Request for Proposals information is posted to the city website. The deadline to apply is Dec. 2 at 11 a.m.
The position was initially suggested by District 6 Commissioner Ben Hasan but has garnered support from other commissioners. It was approved unanimously at the Nov. 16 commission meeting.
“We’re seeing rapid growth as a community and as a region and we need to be represented at all levels,” said District 7 Commissioner Sean Frantom. “So, 100% support having someone at the state level to lobby for our best interest, for opportunities of funding that maybe we would miss because we’re not at the state level.”
District 1 Commissioner Jordan Johnson agreed, saying this is probably one of the best initiatives the city can work toward.
“We miss out on state funding money that can go towards helping with housing, helping with homelessness, helping with capital projects,” he explained. “Having a lobbyist represent Augusta at the state level is really important. I think is once we get there, you’ll start seeing more support from the state level.”
Augusta is not the only area city taking this step.
North Augusta councilmembers voted unanimously at their Nov. 15 meeting to hire Steven Fooshe & Associates, a lobbying firm based in Columbia, S.C.
Mayor Briton Williams, elected to office earlier this year, said this can be a way to get projects funded in ways beyond the traditional state budget.
“We’ve got a number of things; East Martintown Road traffic, that Knobcone Avenue light, the roundabouts to help traffic flow, the 13th Street Bridge and the Greenway,” said Williams. “We need to be looking at ways to help get some of these projects funded. There’s money there. We just have to have someone at the table promoting for us.”
Clifford said the lobbyist can be especially helpful protecting North Augusta’s interest in getting additional American Rescue Plan Act money being held at the state level as well as funds from the Savannah River Site settlement money.
South Carolina is getting $525 million in settlement money. The money, originally $600 million until $75 million was paid to the attorneys, stems from the Department of Energy’s failed mixed oxide fuel fabrication that was to be built at SRS along with the weapons grade plutonium that was brought to the state to be converted into fuel pellets for reactor fuel assemblies.
The contract with the Columbia firm will be for one year at a cost of $24,000.
Augusta did not set a dollar figure for the lobbyist it ultimately hires. Commissioner Jordan said that will be based on the RFP applications they receive and the scope of work the lobbyist will be expected to do.