Members of the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority got good news on the timeline for building a new arena during their Sept. 29 meeting. They also got an update on projected cost of the project and how much the Nov. 2 referendum vote will cost.
Project Manager HB Brantley of Atlanta-based SPACE said they remain on target to reach the September 2024 completion date. He said the updated cost of the project now stands at $235 million, down from the original anticipated cost of $240 million.
Brantley recommended hiring a “construction manager at-risk.” He said that is a construction manager who will manage all the subcontractors on behalf of the authority. Authority members approved.
“They hold all of the contracts; they manage the risk and they manage the schedule,” he explained. “We’re going to ask for a guaranteed maximum price at the appropriate time, so we’ll know at the beginning of the contract what the price is.”
Brantley says they will issue nationwide requests for proposals and requests for quotes for an experienced arena builder. That process was used when the authority looked for a pre-construction cost consultant.
While the projected cost of the new arena is lower, the cost of the upcoming referendum on the bond issue is higher. Authority attorney Ed Enoch said Elections Director Lynn Bailey had originally estimated it would cost between $125,000 and $135,000. He said continued precautions necessary because of COVID-19 have pushed the cost to just over $152,000.
The authority also wants to do a better job of sharing information with the public on the progress and costs. Chairman Cedric Johnson says he wants the website to be more user-friendly.
Johnson said they have hired someone who specializes in websites to work on improving the existing site.
If the bond referendum is approved, it will result in a tax increase on property owners. Johnson said, based on the current digest, it will be a 2.7887 millage rate increase. For a $100,000 home that translates to a tax increase of about $97.60 a year.
Richmond County residents who want to vote on the referendum must be registered to vote by Oct. 4. Residents can register or check current registration status on Georgia’s My Voter Page or contact the Board of Elections office at 706-821-2340 for more information.
Absentee ballots may also be requested through the state website or at the Richmond County Board of Elections website www.augustaga.gov/vote Requests can also be submitted to the local office by mail, email or fax. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is Friday, Oct. 22. The ballots must be returned to the office by 7 p.m. on election day.
Advance voting will begin on Tuesday, Oct. 12.