Augusta mayor candidates talk about city credit cards and vehicles

They haven’t held the seat, but five men seeking to replace Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis spoke out about how they’d manage mayor’s office perks.

Prevented by term limits from a third run for mayor, Davis’ heavy use of his city credit card recently prompted the Augusta Commission to develop a policy for its use where none existed before but most members refused to discuss or audit the charges.

Since he took office in 2015, Davis has grown the office budget by 70% and staff by two or three and added an SUV to its resources, all with commission approval.

Charlie Hannah, currently president of Richmond County Board of Education, said his work in the school system has taught him to expect scrutiny and avoid “ambiguity” in his use of taxpayer dollars. School board members don’t get credit cards or vehicles to use.

“First and foremost, I’m not going to criticize anybody, but (credit card spending) should be accounted for every month to make sure that everything is above board,” Hannah said.

“As far as being a public servant, anything that’s ambiguous will work against you. Things do come up when a credit card may be necessary, but for the most part, as in working for the school board, any transaction that we make is highly scrutinized. You never want to give the impression that something is not right,” he said.

Hannah said supporters recently asked him about “the decal,” the city logo sticker that Davis has declined to affix to his city-issued Chevy Tahoe, citing security concerns. State law that’s intended to prevent personal use requires an annual public hearing when an official such as a mayor wants to drive an unmarked vehicle.

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