Imker & budget issues

I am writing to express (belatedly) my sincere gratitude for the recent budget workshop held by PTC Council member Eric Imker last January.

It was refreshing to see how committed Mr. Imker is in dealing effectively with the current economic challenges as they relate to the PTC budget.

It was also rewarding to see how constructive and professional the PTC residents were in their comments and participation.

Mr. Imker not only solicited and recorded ideas and information, he also came prepared with budget worksheets that he prepared himself.

We should all be gratified in our votes for Mr. Imker; he is truly showing himself to be a worthy and dedicated council member.

Sadly, I must admit that it was not all positive news that prompted me to publicly thank Mr. Imker for his willingness to engage the public in meaningful budget discourse. It was also an article in The Citizen (“Imker OK with bridge vote,” Feb. 27 and 28 edition) that provoked me to action.

In that article, it came to light that Mr. Imker had requested that the PTC Council apply a more measured and meaningful approach to the utilization of remaining 2005 SPLOST funds than that which was eventually approved by the PTC Council.

Per the article, it seems that Mr. Imker requested that the council take a bit more time and consider other appropriate uses for these funds. (This thought was shared in his January budget meeting, and generally agreed to by the public.)

His desire to put more effort into the budget process was torpedoed by overzealous council members, who, frankly, are not interested in citizen input.

Other overzealous participants reportedly included staff, which suggested that this was a great time to do the project. They too, it seems, were not interested in meaningful public disclosure and discussion.

As it relates to planning, one might question why so much money remains unspent from the 2005 SPLOST (over $3 million). Why were so many of the projects that were approved by Fayette County and PTC residents put on “hold” by the PTC staff, while others (such as the recently approved bridge project) were slammed directly into production by a rubber-stamping City Council? (With the exception, of course, for Mr. Imker, who had taken the time to meet with citizens, and took the consideration of PTC voters more to heart).

I also was dismayed to hear, per the article, that Mr. Imker was “OK” with the vote on the bridge after learning – just before the meeting - that the project might be eligible for federal funds.

While I agree with the concept of maximizing all fund sources, I have to say that this is more insight into the shallow planning process used by the PTC staff and Council.

The fact is that ANY of the 2005 SPLOST projects would likely qualify for federal matching IF the favored bridge would.

Why was such narrow reference made to federal funds, only in relation to this particular project? Was this not simply a last-minute, disingenuous attempt to sway the vote on this particular project? Do the PTC staff and Council really think that we PTC citizens are that naive? Really?

By the way, it seems that there are also millions of dollars remaining in the Fayette County portion of the 2005 SPLOST (some portion of which could be repurposed to PTC). Do you think the PTC staff and Council are planning on openly and comprehensively presenting possibilities and plans for the use of these funds? (Don’t hold your breath.)

In closing, I wish to say, again, thank you to Mr. Imker. I hope you succeed in bringing greater professionalism and planning prowess to the budgeting processes for PTC. We citizens are relying on your success in winning the hearts and minds of the new council members.

After all, if you continue to be outvoted as you attempt to help make the best decisions for PTC, then we will all suffer – and the negative consequences for PTC will linger for many years.

Scott Austensen

Peachtree City, Ga.

inkslinger
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Spy

Sorry, should have been more specific. Paschall tunnel paths, absolutely finish them.
Bridge over 74? I don't know of one already going on. Do you mean over 54 by Ethan Allen? Yes, I agree that way needs to be done (I still say April Fools Day is the appropriate date for grand opening, I'm taking bets). But beyond those two already in the works and almost done, I don't see the need right now.

Look at the projects on the city web site agenda for the retreat tomorrow. There are lots more expansions in the works that are not well publicized. Those are the ones I say, we've survived witout them so far, we can put a hold for the next few years without major suffering. The already existing SPLOST money isn't going away. We just don't have the city portion of the expenses now.

Imker
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Imker - Budget - Thank You

Thank you Scott for your kind words. I hope you can make it to the city retreat to see and hear more about the budget issues. Please see my comment to today's article about Mayor Haddix saying PTC is already ‘understaffed.’ My comment is titled "True Budget Problem for PTC is $1.2M in FY2011".

BTW - The latest naming calling on me and my efforts is that the January meeting on the budget was just a "band of vigilantes." Wow! Please know, I will not be deterred for the sake of the city. I guess it's really hard for people to imagine a policitian (me?) not caring about his political future but more for what's in the best interest of the city.

inkslinger
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Councilman Imker

You have support for all your efforts to get this budget back in line with receipts. Please feel free to speak up (vociferously, if necessary) and pound it into some of the brains at the meeting tomorrow that times have changed and it isn't gonna be the same ol' govt. ways anymore.

SPLOST this, and SPLOST that....as the 100% funding for all road and cart path projects...it isn't true. PTC (WE TAXPAYERS) has to come up with 20% or more of the funds to get these projects done and most of it can WAIT. Repaving and repairing EXISTING paths and roads is the ONLY money that can be justified.

Spyglass
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Goil & Imker..

I see nothing wrong at all with finishing all the connections that the City is working on regarding the Cart Paths, especially in and involving the bridge over 74, and the tunnel under 74 at Pascall. I see these as essential needs...it should have been done years ago.

TinCan
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Spy and Goil

OK, I'm confused enough without your help, but where are there any new bridges over rts 54 or 74? Know there are bridges beside rt 54 in the news, one over Lake Peachtree and the other over the RR tracks. Believe there is some half a$$ed plan, origins of which I'll just ignore here, for bridge over rt 54 somewhere near line creek as "gateway to PTC" but that's it. Hope we're not turning into Alaska!

inkslinger
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Tin Can-SPLOST

I'm not totally clear, either, but there are approx.34 pages of SPLOST info. on the agenda tomorrow, much of which hasn't been started yet or very little has been spent.
These are some that I see. PT Pkwy at Walt Banks, PT Pkwy at Tinsley Mill, Upgrade RR Crossings To Create Quiet Zone (don't get me started on that one), Hwy 74N bridge over hwy (Kedron) and Hwy 54E bridge over hwy at Publix.
And that's just a partial list of what's on the SPLOST list, most of these have city staff recommendations to proceed with some or all of it.
Please, Mayor, don't jump in here, OK?

'