Will Waynesboro voters be heard?

Story by Chris Graham

A fall referendum on several capital-improvements projects is close to being on the ballot in Waynesboro.
As much rancor as there has been in the River City regarding government spending in recent months, city-council member Lorie Smith thinks the autumnal discussions could be quite beneficial.

“I think the discussion could be quite healthy,” Smith said in an interview on last week’s “Augusta Free Press Show.”
Six capital-improvements projects worth an estimated $14 million are to be included in the referendum. Projects on the list are to include a proposed West End fire station, an expansion at the Waynesboro Public Library, eight stormwater-runoff-system improvements and a new lighted baseball field.

The proposed referendum still needs the approval of the Waynesboro Circuit Court before it can be added to the ballot.

The referendum would be of a nonbinding nature – meaning that the city council would still have to vote to approve bond measures were city voters to give their approval in November.

Smith isn’t worried that council members would disregard the will of the voters if they were to give their assent at the ballot box.

“I do think this time, in my opinion, that the bar is a bit higher – because when the citizens begin to weigh in, and we get projects hopefully approved on the referendum, I think it becomes increasingly difficult for the council to not be responsive to that,” Smith said.

“This may change a bit in terms of us being able to get those four votes. That’s what I hope,” Smith said.

Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.

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