PTC votes 137% hike in stormwater fees for property owners

Most homeowners will see increase from $44-$99 a year

Homeowners, businesses, schools and churches in Peachtree City will see a steep increase in their stormwater bills this year.

Most homeowners’ annual bills will increase between $44 a year to $99 a year, depending on the amount of impervious surface on the property.

City officials contend the rate hike is necessary to fund $7.4 million in repairs, including dam repairs which if neglected would endanger life and property downstream.

The city groups homeowners into four tiers for billing purposes. Those in Tier I will see their bill rise from $32.28 to $76.68; Tier II rises from $47.40 to $112.69 and Tier III would rise from $72 to $171.24 a year. The fourth tier, for attached residential (AR) would rise from $22.20 to $52.68 a year.

That is an across the board increase of 137 percent in all stormwater bills including those for businesses, schools and churches, many of whom will pay far more than the average homeowner because parking lots are included in the calculation of impervious space that ultimately determines the final bill charged to a given parcel.

These increases also incorporate a surcharge to each bill for the impervious streets in the city, a $355,000 amount that previously came from the city’s general fund, according to city staff.

There was talk among council about making sure that the city reduces its upcoming budget by that same $355,000 to make sure it is not double-charging residents.

Councilman Eric Imker noted that city residents can qualify for 25 percent off their stormwater bill if they participate in a cleanup program such as the city’s Adopt A Path or Adopt A Street programs. Another 10 percent credit is offered for homes which use rain barrels to impound stormwater from roof systems.

The benefit of refinancing now is that the city can take advantage of incredibly low interest rates for not just the $7.4 million in new projects but also the remaining $2.6 million on the initial stormwater bond from 2006 for a total savings of $500,000 over the remaining 14 years of payments.

Imker said one of his concerns was the possibility that in the near future the city would find another round of super-expensive stormwater projects in a cycle that could cause stormwater bills to increase significantly again.

“I don’t want to come up and see another $7 million bond three years from now,” Imker said.

Stormwater Program Manager Mark Caspar noted that the proposed $7.4 million in projects are believed to be the most expensive repairs that will be necessary for the system, which has been better maintained and cared for since the stormwater utility started in 2006.

Imker asked how many more stormwater repair projects the city can expect in future years to cost upwards of $1 million.

“None that we know of today,” Caspar replied.

The ponds which need the dam repairs in particular impound a large amount of stormwater that could endanger lives downstream if a dam breach were to occur.
“These are regional ponds that hold lots of water,” Caspar said.

The rate increase was approved on a 4-1 vote with Mayor Don Haddix voting against. Haddix said though he agreed the projects needed to be done, he couldn’t support the increase because of a lack of a comprehensive approach to reducing city taxes.

Though the other council members were hesitant to raise the rates so significantly, they agreed the work needed to be done to prevent the loss of life and property in the future.

“We have to have the courage to do the right thing: fix the problem,” said Councilwoman Kim Learnard.

Among the major project estimates expected to be handled with the $7.4 million bond issue are:

• $1.5 million to line stormwater pipes that run beneath city streets and roads, along with other miscellaneous projects;

• $1.8 million to replace the drain system in the Harbor Loop area;

• $1.3 million to replace the drain system in the Golfview Drive area;

• $1.2 million to rehabilitate the two Kedron ponds;

• $911,000 for rehabilitation of the Rockspray pond;

• $450,000 for pipe lining in the area of Woodsdale and Lenox Road; and

• $120,000 for repairs to the stilling basin at the BCS Pond.

johenry
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Oh gosh golly!

Mrs. Learnard and company are wasting our money on a new senior facility a block away from the one we already have and we are supposed to trust her to do the right thing. How much money did all of those new parking places cost??

Has anyone on the city council realized we are in a recession??

It would be nice to see a clean sweep of liberal Learnard, real estate agent Fleisch and Don Juan.

Larry.Sussberg
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Mayor Haddix

A 5 year strategic plan including annualized budgeting is done by most large corporations and in many small companies as well. You can also see a host of large and small cities posting their 5 year plans on line as well.

How else do you plan?

And more importantly how do plan for this comprehensive tax cut as your reason to not vote for the watershed project.

Where is your budget and plan on your blog? I have read every article you published. Is it under Taxes & Budget?

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Exactly

We only do five year budget projections based on continuing current spending. That is not a strategic plan.

Nor do you pull true plans out of your hat without first gathering a lot of data, alternatives, priorities etc. We do not have that either. Nor do corporations plan without doing their due diligence first.

You keep wanting to talk around that problem and the failure of Council to even consider doing what is needed.

Plans are indeed for five, even ten years. Actual execution of spending is done annually for one year at a time. The plans are flexible depending upon the funds available each year.

Being flexible and open to change are a requirement. There was no desire for changes at the Fred, Tennis Center or Kedron Center, in example. But I pushed and got them, saving the city more than $600K a year there alone with improved service.

It works. What we are doing does not work.

Larry.Sussberg
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Mayor Haddix

This we agree on, it's not working.
Every person who plans to announce a run for council and mayor also agree as do the those council members who are not up for re-election.

Meanwhile, you are quoted as stating your reason for not voting for the watershed project was the need for a comprehensive tax cut. Where did you pull that from? How can state a tax cut without due diligence?

I read what you say but you are spinning and really saying little on finances and your idea for a tax cut.

Dr. Pennington and Mr. Salvadore can easily project out costs and revenues and council can easily look for and/or ask for a cap on spending followed by % departmental cost reductions as proposed by Mr. King.... Also, Josh is wrapping up the Needs Assessment Committee report which may allow for sacred cows to be cut other than recreation.

Again, my vote is for the candidate who presents the 4 year financial plan and council members who agree to make those cuts.

I'll vote for you if you present the most plausible 4 year financial plan.
The city's financial plan and economic development are the 2 main issues!

Show us your financial abilities with your 4 year planning skills.
There is a lot of data within city hall plus forecasting data available at State and Federal level to pull from.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: LOL Larry

You love to distort what others say, but get quite angry when you believe others are doing it to you or putting words in your mouth. You cannot have it both ways, Larry.

When you say the Three on Council recognize it is not working, etc, you are not being honest. Especially when attached to a Letter bragging about how good a job they have done.

Go ahead and endorse Vanessa Fleisch. I see no challenges from you on anything she has said. That is very telling.

As for Mike King, one second he is growling about all the cuts that need to be made and in the next praising them when attacking me. Very contradictory.

Mike King
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Now Don...

Just how contradictory is it when someone talks about cuts that need to be made and attacking you? You have emphatically stated that you would cut recreation long before cutting a bloated police and fire department, and have served as mayor to the largest cuts in recreational programs for our youth in the twenty-five years that I've lived here while not once touched police or fire.

Could it be your age is catching up with you? You seem to be forgetting the positions you held previously. Please let us hear you say that it was not you who presided over the firing of Randy Gaddo and the subsequent cuts to our once top tier recreational programs.

Larry.Sussberg
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Mayor Haddix

There more candidates coming for mayor and council.
I'm hoping that this mayoral election will be about facts and numbers. Lets hope the citizens want to see candidates' strategic plans supported by a 4 yr financial plan done annually and revisited and updated each year.

All i am asking now is...You said that although you agreed with the watershed project you could not support it due to the lack of a comprehensive plan to reduce city taxes....I have read your website and can not find your comprehensive plan or financial forecasting for the city. Where is it? I'm trying to understand? You used the words tax cuts, I want to know where and how you propose that.

It's not LOL. They're serious questions for serious candidates. Where is your plan, where are your financial forecasts and budgets?

I plan to ask the same questions to Ms Fleisch, Mr. Jolly and the 2 other pending mayoral candidates as of now.
These are equal opportunity questions which I hope has action plans more than forming more committees.

Also I have not yet selected who I'm voting for yet.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Then Ask Her Now, Publicly

She wrote a Letter, as her there.

Stormwater is not going to fall apart tomorrow without that tax. They are still doing work with the existing Bond. The argumentment was not they needed the money now, the argument was the Bond might get more expensive if we waited. This is not an imminent crisis. That is a fact.

Yes, I said we need a plan. I also said the portion of the Millage Rate being used for the portion of the General Fund currently being paid to the Utility was not being rolled back, but left in place. That is double taxation.

There is plenty of time to initiate all of this in the Retreat at the end of March. Authorize Staff to collect all the elements needed for the plan. Put a roll back of the millage rate in place for the 2014 Budget.

Once authorized, I would call for townhalls to gather more information for Staff in their efforts and educate all elected and those thinking about running. Terms would be defined, the citizens could give us rankings of importance with Rec, in example.

As I said, what you hear on the Dais as to what is priority in Rec is not what the citizens are saying. Far from it.

Just putting numbers on a spreadsheet without a comprehensive approach is what is the norm. It is based on just keep doing what we have done.

Staff has to be given instruction from Council. If business as usual, that is how they plan.

I am aware of some coming forward for Council, by name. I am aware Dienhart is seriously considering a run for Mayor. I saw Jolly declared. I am aware of one other who is being urged to run.

As for answering your question of who has a keen understanding of the city budget, with all due respect, it won't be someone new. There is a lot more to it than a spreadsheet. There is also a lot more to being Mayor than many think, both knowledge and time wise.

People are asking why those who have never served on any commission, committee, etc are going for Mayor right off the bat. Why not do some time on committees, etc, or at most Councilmember instead of OJT.

Yes, it is LOL when you say Council is aware it isn't working. They believe it is and brag about it.

OK, I think that answered all the unanswered issues. Repeating, like is already happening, really adds nothing to the conversation.

It will be an interesting election cycle.

Mike King
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Mayor, Really?

"Yes, I said we need a plan. I also said the portion of the Millage Rate being used for the portion of the General Fund currently being paid to the Utility was not being rolled back, but left in place. That is double taxation."

Just how much gobbleygook do we need from an elected official? Most of us in PTC comprehend the English language. All property taxes levied by the city go to the general fund unless you have siphoned off some.

We do agree that it will be an interesting election cycle with it culminating in you being unemployed once again.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Really, Mike King

They go into the fund but the Millage Rate is based on usage. There are line item breakdowns for all the money. A reduction in a usage should be a reduction in the Millage Rate, but it isn't. They will simply spend it elsewhere and tell you they didn't raise your taxes.

Exactly how do you think we know when the County has double taxed us in the past? By the Budget allocations, so, no gobbledygook.

Obviously, you need to learn more before making such definitive statements.

Mike King
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Quite Funny Mayor

You choose to ignore your proposals that would have placed the city into bankruptcy and offer the issue of double taxation. Are you claiming to have saved the city from those at Fayette County that would choose to force double taxation upon those of us here in PTC?

Get your head out of the sand, or at least call pumpkin to come to your rescue.

Larry.Sussberg
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Mayor Haddix: Minimal Accomplishments!

You have been on council for 2 years under Harold as mayor and 4 years as mayor yourself.
6 years to accomplish all of this. 6 years to meet with past and present council members to gain support for your ideas.
6 years wasted at the taxpayer expense.

You actually have a few good ideas here but you had 6 years to accomplish them and failed.
And, please don't say you have reached out to each council member to try to build teamwork and consensus.

That's SAD (not LOL)

As for asking Ms Fleisch, I will in the proper forum, but as you know you are the only elected official in all of Fayette County who constantly blogs here with 100s of aliases and stupid me. Now that's a LOL

Mike King
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Larry,

What can one expect from someone who disavows multi-year planning? The terms 'projection' and 'forecast' are obviously beyond his scope of reasoning.
This town owes a debt of gratitude to Eric Imker for his budgetary expertise during a critical time in this economic climate. One can only imagine where Peachtree City would be financially had Haddix had his way.

Larry.Sussberg
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Mike King

Actually I expect honesty and Mr. Haddix's response was dishonest and an attempt to discredit.

I have run 2 multinational companies, both in excess of $500 million and owned 3 companies, 2 of which I still own and I have always done 5 year plans. It was required by the multinationals and taught in my MBA program.

And cities do it too!

Larry.Sussberg
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Haddix:No Vote & 2013 Mayoral Candidates!

Mr. Mayor
Can you please lay out your comprehensive plan to reduce city taxes. You have been on council for 6 years of which you have been mayor for 4.

Where's the plan? The citizens need your plan showing your cost and revenue projections leading to a balanced budget with your tax reduction plan.

If you produce that, you earn my vote.

Any candidate that lays out a clear fiscal plan for the next 4 years with solid cost and revenue projections, including maintenance and justifiable capital expenditure plans with future bond requirements if needed factored in, earns my vote and campaign financial support.

A real financial plan,a 4 year by year, financial plan.

This year's debates should have PowerPoint presentations with handouts on current and the next 4 years' city finances.

Yes there are other issues to be discussed and presented but let the fiscal plan of each mayoral candidate serve as part of job performance.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Plan

I answered before and it is on my website. You know that but keep pretending it does not exist.

I will say there is no such thing as an accurate multiple year Budget. It is not an accepted practice in the private sector either.

The Budgets Council has produced are not a Comprehensive Strategic Plan. They are tax and spend plans with no recognized cap or priority of spending. No recognition or questioning we may be spending too much in certain areas. No knowledge of what the citizens actually want.

OnePTC, in example, paints a very different picture than what you hear from Council on the Dais.

Mike King
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Come On Larry....

...Do you really expect the mayor to actually to produce such a plan? Had the Council listened to his ideas concerning the city budget over the last four years would have resulted in the city being bankrupt. The city's saving grace was the foresight by Eric Imker and the two ladies who persisted over the mayor's howls, screams, and letters to the editor that actually set the city upon a course of financial stability.

While I'll not side with the majority on Council on each and every detail, the actions they took regarding rate increases were the right thing to do as unpopular as they were.

I await the coming retort from the mayor.