14 Feb RELEASE: UGA and ACC: A New Relationship
Mayoral Candidate Looks to UGA to Contribute More
Mayoral candidate Richie Knight believes UGA could do more to be an active partner with Athens-Clarke County.
“UGA is our largest employer and an indelible part of Athens’ identity,” Knight says. “But it also pays extremely low wages. Over 45% of our land is owned by non taxable entities, UGA being the largest. As such, I feel there is more the University could do to directly help our community.”
Knight feels that the University should follow the example of colleges elsewhere and become a more active partner with local government, which would benefit all Athenians.
“Most UGA employees can’t afford to live in town,” says Knight. “And many residents pay property taxes that UGA doesn’t have to. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix.”
Knight envisions a dedicated housing trust, paid for by the University.
“The University could address both issues by working with the City to create a workforce housing fund,” he says. “The money would bolster the local economy by making it easier for locals to live, and pay taxes, in town. It also eases pressure on our stretched budget so that we can redirect money to other high need areas, like crime and education.”
Knight, a local small business owner and entrepreneur, is running an outsider campaign that challenges what he sees as a flawed status quo. City Hall’s relationship with UGA is one of many areas he sees as overdue for change.
“If we’re being honest, there’s a love-hate relationship going on,” says Knight. “There’s some resentment around the fact that the school walls itself off at times. But that’s in large part the fault of elected leaders who haven’t done enough outreach. My housing proposal is a way to get things moving on a more positive track. As mayor, I pledge to work with the University in order to create an Athens that works for all of us. Let’s get to work!”