Imker: PTC facing $1.2 million shortfall in 2011

Peachtree City Councilman Eric Imker. Photo/Staff.

If Peachtree City officials want to completely duck a tax increase and avoid using cash reserves, they will have to cut $1.2 million from next year’s budget, according to Councilman Eric Imker at Friday’s council retreat.

Imker pointed out that the projected $757,000 shortfall in the staff model for 2011 included a .26 mill property tax increase, equivalent to roughly $450,000.

“It’s about $1.2 million we’re either over-expending or under-taxing,” Imker said. “So whatever we need to do to make that budget balance, we’re $1.2 million short ... That’s the target now for solving.”

The 2011 budget includes no raises for city staff and projects no increase in expenses at all, said City Finance Director Paul Salvatore. It will be up to the City Council to determine how to plug the $1.2 million gap, whether by further budget cuts, use of cash reserves, a property tax increase or a combination of those.

The city is projected to end the current budget year by using $451,000 to balance the budget, lowering its cash reserves to 34 percent of the budget. The goal is to have that figure at a minimum of 20 percent.

The city is already stretching its budget by $1.5 million by using remaining revenues from the 2004 transportation special purpose local option sales tax for street and cart path maintenance and improvements.

Mayor Don Haddix has said he thinks the city can’t afford cutting more staff without affecting service levels. But resident Robert Brown said he thinks the city needs to conduct an efficiency study so it could firmly know whether staffing levels were appropriate or not.

Brown, who has done such work for governmental entities at the federal level, gave as an example the implementation of charging for golf cart permits several years ago.

Brown noted that no new city staffers were hired for the task so the city absorbed the work with existing employees. That showed that there were some hours in staff’s schedules that were being spent on non-critical tasks or on anything, he said. “How many more examples are there like that in the city? I don’t know,” Brown said.

Resident Tim Lydell said he thinks the city needs to perform an assessment of the work conducted by city workers, some of which is merely processing paperwork.

The city needs to determine “what will the people of Peachtree City do without as opposed to what they really want. I think you are lacking that,” Lydell said. “... Let’s think about trying to get back to the basics.”

Lydell said he was also concerned about the long-term effect of the city’s defined benefit pension plan. He suggested the city could buy out employees’ defined benefit plans and change its retirement offerings to keep future expenses from getting out of control.

Mayor Don Haddix assured Brown and Lydell that the city has already looked into those suggested options.

“We haven’t been sitting back and doing nothing,” Haddix said. Resident Steve Thaxton said he preferred the city to avoid any tax increases and control costs.

Meanwhile the city is also dealing with a revenue shortfall in the current fiscal year that’s projected at $621,000. As a result, City Manager Bernie McMullen has ordered all departments to develop 2.5 percent in cuts from their budgets, which will be discussed at the end of the retreat 2 p.m. Saturday.

The worst shortfall this year for city revenues comes from recreation program fees, which are down by $200,000 from expectations, the city documents show.

The city has also taken hits in electric franchise tax ($139,000); interest earnings ($148,513); city court fines ($128,500) and building permits ($113,052).

Salvatore noted that the city will be addressing some suggestions in the area of the recreation revenues. He also noted that staff would investigate why there was a dip in the electric franchise revenues, which was a 9 percent decrease from last year.

Despite the shortfalls, there has been some good news from the city’s sales tax revenues, which are a bit over 4 percent ahead of last year’s revenues through Jan. 2010, Salvatore said.

The council’s two-day yearly retreat for planning was scheduled to conclude March 13.

PTC Observer
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Mr. Haddix

You continue to say that city services will need to be cut but you have yet to give us a listing of these cuts and how much they will save. We elected you to communicate with the citizens, please do so.

Here are the questions:

1. What city services would likely be cut as a result of the 1.3 million shortfall in 2011?
2. How much money would we save on each of these if we had to cut these services?
3. Are we currently allowing city employees overtime pay? If so, how much overtime has been paid in the last 6 months?
4. Do you see a shortfall for this year 2010? If so, how much?

Thanks

GAltant
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Bonkers: Headcount???

I'd rather pay more in taxes than see PTC cut the payroll of our police and firemen...
I think we should also pay an annual golf cart fee to go toward maintenance of the paths and I'm in favor of a $25.00 or $50.00 charge for 911.
All too often in tough economic times, employees bear the brunt.
Our teachers are paying that price now...the state cuts the budget and it comes out of the teachers' hides!

GAltant
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Bonkers: Headcount???

How do you know its in headcount? are you in the city government? have you seen people lounging around doing nothing? $1.2 million deficit..the city would have to lay off between 20 and 30 more people. Where are you getting your headcount information to make such a statement?..what areas do you suggest and what services should be cut in conjunction with headcount reduction?

There's an old saying, "you got to raise the bridge or lower the water"
Raise taxes, raise services fees such as requiring annual permits for golf carts, swimming and other services, lay off some staff if we can afford to do it and use some of the city reserves. There is no 1 fix to all of the issues.

Bonkers
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GAlt: headcount

Well if you won't look at the head count in the budget I'll tell you:

I think you will find about $12-14,000,000 in cops and firemen and their staffs.
How much do we need cut? Isn't it 1.2 million? 10% cut maybe, or less if other heads are counted.

There is insufficient money in all other expenses to cut and to make the budget.

Raise taxes and fees NOW? If pool attendance, etc., what makes you think MORE would come if you raised the fees? More would probably leave.

Maybe there are too many heads on the payroll at the pool with attendance down?

I don't understand the reluctance of some in refusing to consider reductions to match the income!

The Teachers and administrators are pulling the same thing! Not us, no!

Crap like four days and no Holiday pay won't work. It is a drop in the bucket. The only savings is poor old bus drivers get one less day of pay---yet teachers and administrators do not--why not?

Anyway kids need to go MORE hours and days---not less, they aren't learning nearly enough.

normal
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5 year pay and benifit freeze and Put up cell towers

You are broke, You are being asked to put up cell towers for mega bucks in rental fees. There is plenty of space to put them up on city/school property. This is the cities opportunity to get the needed money and not have to raise taxes. Some of the rules are so damn stupid in this town. Wake up and smell the dollars.

Bonkers
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To: normal?

I'll bet the "mega bucks" you mention wouildn't pay the interest only on the old Tennis Center debt! Why don't you let them install them in your yard? You could retire.

GAltant
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Increase rates for services

Besides raising taxes to cover the shortfall, Peachtree City should charge an annual golf cart fee and raise the charges for the use of the field house and aquatic center.
Clearly we need to pay more for our services.......

Also, some communities are now charging a fee for using 911 too!

Bonkers
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GAlt: increase taxes for services?

The money is in headcount---not services!

Those of us who can't make all of our payments now would appreciate that!

Think about others for a change.

The fees collected in last year are down $200,000. I don't think raising them would do anything but lose more users! People must go to those other jobs you people talk about that the unemployed should take!

meanoldconservatives
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Bonker$ - suggestion

"Those of us who can't make all of our payments now would appreciate that!"

Since you lumped yourself in the group who can't make all your payments.... why don't you sacrifice your internet service at home? That would give you extra money and you could take some of your own advice. You know, where you said "Think about others for a change." You have no idea how appreciative we'd be.....

Bonkers
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MOC: "US"

Those of us includes me, and you!

We are all "us." There are those of us who can pay, and those of us who can not!

See, that is what I mean about think of "others" occasionally!

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