Proposed PTC budget includes tax hike; Imker vows to fight it

Peachtree City Councilman Eric Imker. Staff photo.

Staff intends quarter mill increase to generate same revenue as last year; Councilman Imker says hard decisions are being ducked

Peachtree City council members have been given a proposed city budget to study, and it includes a quarter-mill property tax increase to the tune of $459,000 and further use of city reserves at $764,000.

The quarter mill tax increase will cover the 4.6 percent decline in property values but not more, said city Finance Director Paul Salvatore.

“That quarter of a mill would allow us to generate the same level of property tax revenue that we generated last year,” Salvatore said.

According to the budget, the $764,000 in cash reserves will be used to pay cash instead of financing for a new fire truck and eight new police vehicles.

The budget includes no employee raises of any kind and no new employees for the 2010-2011 budget year. It also cuts $358,000 for 10 existing vacant positions, meaning the workload will be spread among existing personnel.

Outspoken Councilman Eric Imker contends the city should use neither a property tax increase nor city reserves.

“No real progress in facing the city’s budget problem,” Imker mused in a letter to the editor published today on Page A4. “I cannot stand by and allow this to go unchallenged.”

Imker notes that “little” of his $2 million in proposed budget cuts were included.

“Apparently tough decisions can’t be made,” Imker wrote. He added that he disagreed “with comparisons that are only there to show one side” and “surveys that are skewed to obtain the answer desired.”

Imker has suggested furlough days for employees, which would save $46,000 a day, according to city staff. Also he has suggested pay cuts, and an across the board pay cut of 1 percent would save approximately $133,000, according to city projections.

Imker said he opposes a property tax increase, though he recognizes most residents can afford the additional $30 a year tax increase for a house with a fair market value of $270,000.

“Some folks have to choose between, do I pay $20 to join Fayette Senior Services for the year or do I pay $10 to join the Gathering Place for the year,” Imker wrote. “Many, many folks just can’t afford any tax increase. I am not prepared to tell them that we’ve been unable to make the hard decisions and you’ll just have to pay.”

In the letter, Imker said he thinks the city can cut the budget without using cash reserves or a property tax increase. He has argued for employee furloughs, pay cuts and cutting back one of the city’s two retirement programs offered to all employees: a defined benefit pension and a 401(k) investment account.

Among the cuts, the hardest hit was the police department at $234,000, which includes one police officer position that was authorized to start in the middle of the current budget year.

The recreation department was reduced $225,000 with an additional $55,000 taken from the Kedron Fieldhouse and Pool budget.

Other significant cuts included:

• $78,000 from the fire department;

• $84,000 from the library;

• $45,000 from public works;

• $62,000 from the finance department;

• $68,000 from the city clerk;

• $25,000 from EMS;

• $12,000 from the Gathering Place senior citizen center.

While Mayor Don Haddix has argued the city is understaffed given its workload, Imker firmly disagrees.

“I disagree with city employees who feel they should not contribute more to solving the problem,” Imker said of the city’s budget woes. “What would they do if they worked in the commercial/business world?”

This year’s budget process will be a bit different, as council is specially inviting citizens to speak out on the budget at a “town hall” meeting Thursday, June 10 at City Hall. Prior to that meeting, council will have up to two public work sessions on the budget, starting June 1 at 6:30 p.m. and continuing on June 2 at 6:30 p.m. if necessary.

The public, as always, will be allowed to attend and give comments at the work session meetings also, officials said.

The budget is posted at City Hall and is also available on the city website: www.peachtree-city.org.

Rod N
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Another burden. If you might

Another burden. If you might be trying to conserve cash, or need to apply for term money advances; make certain you first create an individual budget. The very best way to determine how much money you can afford to borrow is to first make a particular budget. Personal budgets support you discipline yourself not to more than spend; plus they aid you pay your bills. Having your spending plan set up before you shop helps to keep you purchasing within your means.

common tater
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burst your bubble

Want to live in the lovely PTC bubble (not to mention the actual bubble so you can swim in January)? Want to maintain the standards to which you've become accustomed and which keep your houses valuable? It'll cost you. Want the fire department to respond in a timely manner because you have a tummy ache?...that costs money. Want the police to respond promtly to your duckling in the roadway emergency or quickly get you back on the way to work after your fender bender? Costs money. If you're willing to do without the services that make PTC the lovely bubble it is then so be it. Just don't complain when the services you've been used to fall short and the houses next door start to sell for just a bit less.

Jelly Bean
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Don't worry BoYo...

Mike King has opinions on everything, thinks he knows everything, but always fails to get the facts together before making a post. I mostly just read the blogs and laugh at the absolute ignorance and lack of understanding he has....you can put the truth in front of him and he'll still spin it. Gotta love the ability of some to make themselves look stupid. I have to believe that what comes around goes around. My only concern is that others believe him.

Mike King
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Jelly....

Spoken like Don Haddix, but with better spelling skills. Or might you be just a surrogate?

della
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It's not $30, its' $250 year

Put your blinders on and bury your heads in the sand. Do you not understand it's not about next year's budget, it's about the $18,000,000 problem Imker is raising awareness of and is addressing. Reducing expenses next year will save huge amounts of that $18,000,000.
Imker put it pretty straight forward. A 1/4 mil or $30 increase next year is just not going to solve the problem. He said it will take at least 2 whole mils or $250 tax increase each year. If his numbers are right, then you bet, we've got a huge problem.
Here's two quick comments on city employees that ught to grate you...
Do you expect them to advocate a tax increase or their own salary cut?
If the BOE (Education folks) can take a 4 1/2% pay cut and 3 furlough days why can't city govenment employees?

rmoc
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IMKER is Scrooge

Yes, there is a budget issue and everyone needs to tighten belts.
* PTCFD has an advantage of FREE Labor, so give them a break. We have a healthly Volunteer contingent that makes the budget lower than many cities of the same size. These folks give up 40 plus hours a month for little benefit.
* PTCPD does a great job and I wish there were more police available for cart path monitoring.
* PTC Recreation has done a lot to keep quality of services for the city with fewer workers (layoffs and retirements unfilled). How about charging Fayette County Residents a fee since they are charged the same as PTC residents for activities for a pittance that Fayette County gives them. The biggest budget item is the Kedron facility but instead of farming out the service (yes, that worked so well for landscaping) charge county residents extra.
* Special Events cost in all sectors so lets get rid of the 4th of July celebrations (I heard that is on the chopping block), Triathalon, PTC 5K, Shakrag, etc. Hello Fayyetteville...

A Special Place costs money..but IMKER just wants to create a so-so place. Heck, most of my friends are more than willing to pay the money to keep services but I GUESS SOME FOLKS IGNORED THE QUESTIONNAIRE that was sent out that said they wanted to pay to keep services.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: County Pittance

The County has reduced the amount from $150,000 to $114,000 for PTC, a $36,000 cut. You will have to ask other cities what they were reduced.

This is a cost transfer from all of the County, who gets the benefit, to PTC residents. That forces us to find a way to put the cost back on the County users, reduce their access rights or both. This is something the Commissioners are going to have to explain to the citizens of Fayette County.

I do not understand the logic of impacting access to the 74.86% of all Rec in the County that is located in PTC. Without us the State Rec evaluation for the County falls from Green to Red, meaning below minimum.

It is not a secret. It is listed in our Budget proposal we begin discussing June 1.

Mike King
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Mr Mayor

Granted, PTC has 75% of all county recreation within its borders and it took a cut of 24%. It's easy to understand, Fayette County has made the decision to not raise taxes and live within its means. You simply wish to raise fees, taxes, etc. without regard to controlling spending.

rmoc
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Mike we need to recoup

Yes, Fayette County has chosen to take the safe route, but PTC is not Fayetteville or Fayette County. PTC takes pride on being a family friendly, recreation oriented (look at all the folks biking, running and just hanging out..a health related community). Fayetteville is becoming another Riverdale..We gave charity to the County Residents for years and now it is time for them to pay to play.

Mike King
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rmoc

Point well taken.

The recreation you mention: biking, running, and hanging out(?) do not require a $6.5M budget even if you add the likes of softball, baseball, tennis, basketball, and soccer.

With the Tennis Center privatized this year, I would have thought a reduction in the Recreation Department budget might happen.

Davids mom
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MOC - Interesting comment

Fayetteville is becoming another Riverdale.

I'm a resident of Fayetteville - but all my 'charity' work (volunteer) is in PTC and Atlanta. I'll have to look into this and get some assignments close to home!

Also, I never found it necessary to go to PTC for recreation - although I love some of the upper end shopping in The Avenues. Most developments in Fayetteville have better tennis courts than the Tennis Center. The two Fayette County Parks (the one on Redwine and the one on east 54) are well used by residents of Fayetteville and other areas of the county - and residents of Hampton (Clayton County). Oh - and the county is giving us the beginning of 'cart paths' along Redwine. Thanks for the information.

hutch866
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Dm

You addressed that to the wrong person, it wasn't our MOC that said that, MOC lives in Fayetteville. No, it was rmoc that said that and while Dm was delicate in her response, I'm not so inclined. I also live in Fayetteville and find it a great place to live. I too have never had to go to PTC for recreation and can find plenty of things here to do for fun. IMHO rmoc can take his elitist attitude and together with terrier88 they can shove it up their collective asses. If this offends you(and Lord I hope it does) tough spit.

TinCan
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Hutch

Wadda ya trying to do. blow our swabby reputations of being civil and reasonable people. I'm pretty certain that rmoc isn't a he and is not a PTC resident, but I don't know about terrier. Guess that says something about her, (or his in case I'm wrong), perspective doesn't it?

Hate to say it but that response makes you resemble that shoving place. Not sure what nerve that post may have touched, but that response wasn't up to your standards.

hutch866
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Well Tin

Not sure I've ever had a reputation of being civil or reasonable. They have opinions and so do I, and if they want to insult where I live, well I guess I will respond in kind. After all I yam what I yam, and I make no excuses for it.

Davids mom
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Hutch866

Thanks for the correction. My new years resolution was not to 'lose it' on the blog this year. (Reason for my 'delicate' responses). I, too, LOVE Fayetteville - and all the people that I have met these past six years. It is encouraging to see the city recover from what the country has experienced, the recession. I have visited the various residential areas of PTC - and the residents have reason to be proud - but I see no less pride in the maintenance of community and private homes in Fayetteville.

AtHomeGym
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Hutch, DM & rmoc

C'mon Hutch, why don't you say what you REALLY think? Clearly, rmoc and perhaps many others have never been to Lake Horton, where one can fish, sail, canoe/kayak, and bike, walk, run or skate on the several miles of paved paths. I call that recreation. Oh, and Pavillions/restroom facilities for picnics.

rmoc
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Lake Horton is great

You all mistake what I refer to in terms of Recreation, Lake Horton is beautiful and I think nicer than the two PTC lakes. What I am referring to is that County residents do not pay extra to attend classes held by the PTC Rec department, attend the Gathering Place, use Kedron fieldhouse, play in leagues, etc. These things cost the city money...

Parts of Fayetteville are extremely nice and unfortunately the center city is not. It is a shame that Fayetteville can't get something going in the courthouse square area to make it a real destination because it could be something special like downtown Senoia is becoming. It would have been really sweet if the County Office Mall had actually become an Avenue type area. It is also a shame that the Banks Station Area has gotten so bad, and Hobby Lobby jumping ship will make that south end of the mall so sad.

Remember how nice downtown Jonesboro used to be...

Davids mom
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rmoc

Fayetteville residents also 'volunteer' in maintaining areas in PTC. Please stay in PTC - I haven't met anyone with your attitude in Fayetteville - come to think of it, I haven't met anyone with your attitude who resides in PTC. I guess I'm just lucky!! Come visit 'Center City' in about five years (if our economy continues to improve). Our council members may not be as 'colorful/controversial' as yours - but many of us are content with the way their long-term plans appear to be materializing. No one who 'changed' the appearance of Jonesboro will be able to afford most of the property in Fayetteville. You guys better watch your developers and your council's long-term plans. I 'volunteer' in some areas of Peachtree City that you evidently are unaware of. Turn your attention to preserving your own city - residents of Fayetteville will do the same - even those who volunteer their time to maintain the Gathering Place and other 'Peachtree City' areas. (Fayetteville residents) We didn't realize that some thought our efforts were taking away from your 'tax base'. Just being neighborly.

Davids mom
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AHG

I didn't know about this!! Thanks! We'll visit this week!!

rmoc
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Thanks Mr Mayor

Thank you for chiming in on my comment about County contributions to the Recreation Budget. Fayette County residents outside the city limits have been getting an almost free ride for too long.

noFear
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The point is...

...that to keep the quality of life in PTC at its current level - and prevent the feared North Fayette invasion - PTC residents will have to get beyond their Tea Party-inspired tax fears and realize that slightly higher local taxes will benefit every homeowner in this city.

We must pay for services that maintain PTC as one of the finest places to live anywhere, not just in Atlanta, or Georgia, but anywhere. To do that requires money - taxes - paid by its residents for city services.

This unrealistic whining about a small tax increase continues to miss that point. City services are essential to the value of homes, businesses, and the way of life PTC has managed to achieve.

If given the choice, every single PTC resident would pay 30 bucks a year - or even $300 - in higher taxes in order to protect the value of their home. And like it or not, that IS a major consideration in this whole debate.

Start cutting taxes - and cutting services - and you will not like the city you live in 10 years from now.

Think of it this way: if you don't pay the $30, your home value will decline, say 1 percent. That's $3,000 on a $300,000 home.

If you do pay, your value is maintained, or goes up 1 percent, creating $3,000 to $6,000 in value for each homeowner.

You're crazy if you wouldn't pay $30 to save $3,000 in value on your home. This is a simplification, but over time, this is exactly what will happen, and none of us will like the result.

City government has to operate efficiently, effectively. From what I've seen, we're getting overall good service. Perfect? No, but that's not the debate.

We have unique assets in this city - cart paths, lakes, natural areas, outstanding schools, golf, beautiful homes, great retail - and we cannot maintain it griping about a $30 tax increase.

Cyclist
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An invasion from North Fayette?
noFear wrote:

...that to keep the quality of life in PTC at its current level - and prevent the feared North Fayette invasion - PTC residents will have to get beyond their Tea Party-inspired tax fears and realize that slightly higher local taxes will benefit every homeowner in this city.

I'm shocked!!

jevank
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I must have missed the meeting on this.

Word must have gotten out that you and SLindsey were in our very exclusive city.

Cyclist
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No jevank

Fellow blogger and Mayor of PTC Don Haddix said the city has character; which means Lindsey and I can't live there.

jevank
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Cyclist

Is BEING a character and HAVING character two different things? Even so, lacking character is not something I could ever say about either of you.

AtHomeGym
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Jevank and but, but, but

neither of them live in PTC!

jevank
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Don't worry, Gym

I think we're still allowing people in from the west side. I know how you love it here. ;)

AtHomeGym
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jevank & West Side

West? That wouldn't include Cy, Steve, or me either--unless my compass is all hosed up, we're all E. of PTC!

jevank
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Sorry, Gym

For some reason, I thought you lived in Coweta County. My mistake.

Consider yourself on the same list as Cyclist and SL. (I mean that in a good way.)

Mike King
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Point Back...

The thirty dollar increase is not the point. The point is we are not receiving full measure for our current taxes. And under no circumstances will the "North Fayette invasion" (your term) be diminished by an increase in taxes. Half the assets you deem unique to this city are private entities that could be enhanced by less city regulation. Their maintainance has nothing to do with city government.

noFear
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Imker is principled...and just plain wrong

Give it to the guy - he's sticking by his conservative values.

Human values, though, make it clear that seizing money from city employee pay to prevent a $3 per month tax increase is just plain wrong.

Mr. Imker, this is not the federal, out of control, spend at any cost budget we're talking about here. This is the budget of a community that has achieved a special standard of living unmatched in Georgia or anywhere else for that matter.

Why would you endanger that standard over a $3 tax increase? How does this possibly fit with the challenge of making PTC an even better place to live?

Here's the bottom line, Mr. Imker: keep taxes in check by cutting services and lowering employee pay. Then explain to your constituents why it was wise to lower PTC's standard of living and in the process start a downward spiral of real estate values where those $300,000 houses start falling 15 to 20 percent a year.

Mr. Imker, PTC is a special place. Keeping it that way requires money - money homeowners will gladly pay to maintain services and in turn, maintain the higher values of their homes.

If you want the North Fayette transformation to spread to PTC, the quickest way to do it is to cut services, cut taxes, and say "we can't afford that."

Spear Road Guy
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No Fear And Logsdon: Two Peas In A Pod

Isn't it amazing how people talk such a good game and the moment they're in a position of authority, they turn tail and retreat in the other direction? Does anyone want to guess how many times I've heard "it's only $20 extra a year." I've heard it about $300 worth!!!

It's our money, so let us keep some of it!!!

Mike King
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noFear

Outside of your pro-city employee rhetoric, are you in denial of spending being out of control here in PTC? After all, was it not spending that caused this debt? I would agree that the entire debt burden not be shouldered entirely by the employees, but equally (dollar for dollar) with an increase in property taxes and use of city reserves.

To keep payroll off limits, as is the case in the current proposed budget, simply does not address the debt (go to the city's website and see for yourself). The employee cuts the city manager proposes are unfilled positions that are not needed and should be eliminated, therefore, they are not true reductions.

Your city staff led by McMullen has drained the coffers of Peachtree City for too long and whose legacy will be that of shear audacity because it is they who believe we are here to provide them a living. Case in point: Does a city of a mere 35,000 require a city manager at $13K monthly? Bottom line is that our city employees are top heavy despite the rhetoric of our mayor whose function it seems is to protect his staff and the citizens be damned.

This same staff has council chasing its tail in items of little to no consequence while inadequate attention is given to the budget or dare I say a police force whose appetite for growth is exceeded only by it's embarrassment as a law enforcement venue (recent arson investigation).

We can live with less local government.

inkslinger
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"Money Citizens Will Gladly Pay"

Listen up, noFear. Who do you think you are talking about here? Since when would ANY citizen GLADLY pay ANY tax?

Especially a tax for what will be NO ADDITIONAL SERVICE FOR THAT ADDED TAX?

Not me, not my neighbors, not the majority of us here. Nuh uh, you don't speak for us, buddy. The ONLY justification for added tax is added service to go with it. PERIOD. And that just ain't the case here, is it?

Can we afford it? I don't know, can you afford addtional monthly expenses, more credit card debt, an additional new car loan, an addition to your house, more expensive electronic devices to control your life?

Not can you GET the credit, but can you AFFORD to pay for the credit offered you once you accept it? Take those new expenses and compare them to what you make for income and see what the reality is. Get out of your boomer mentality that got us into this fiscal mess and start cutting NOW.

Spyglass
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I'll pay the additional tax

gladly, especially if it shuts up Imker.

PTClurker
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The bottom line

PTCitizen had a good point below regarding the actual financial impact of a proposed tax hike vs. the financial impact on the government employees.

However, I would offer the following counter (and to all who argue the burden should "not be put solely on the backs of the city employees"):

The bottom line of this entire budget mess is council (albeit previous council's) fiscal irresponsibility.

The PRIMARY reason for not wanting a tax increase is not because the "burden" on the citizens this go-around will be immensely great (although I would argue that if you prick me year-after-year with tax hikes, I'll eventually bleed to death - count recent SPLOST proposals in here too), it's to show our government they MUST live within their means. Period! If you keep "bailing out" government with more taxes, guess what... you'll just get more of the same. You know it. I know it. It's that simple high level concept many of us just seem to be forgetting. You don't keep giving a kid chocolate if he's just going to dump it in the garbage. Our city, just like government at all levels, must be FORCED to work within it's means and not spend, spend, spend as it so clearly has. A painful, but necessary lesson indeed. A "culture" change within government is needed, starting one step at a time.

So, the burden falling on the city employees is not so much an ends in and of itself; it is the unfortunate consequence of a GREATER need not to keep "fueling the fire" of a government with money which has not yet created an atmosphere of fiscal responsibility and restraint.

PTCitizen
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PTClurker - Misplaced responsibility

I don't disagree with you about holding the government accountable for poor choices, nor do I disagree that previous councils have made poor decisions about the finances of the city. However, the fact that Peachtree City Citizens failed to elect a competent council is not the financial responsibility of a group of city employees who, by-in-large, live in Coweta County or Fayetteville and were powerless in that decision making (voting) process. I assure you, if you left the appointment of political officials to a group of individuals who were actually involved in Public Administration, we would consistently see elections going differently.
Since Mr. Imker is so fond of comparisons to the Public Sector (which is ludicrous) I will relate a real world example from the Public Sector that closely parallels his, and your, position on this issue.

A board of directors of a major company appointed a new CEO. This CEO was a business man, with a shiny Ivy League degree, that had no experience in this type of business but talked a good game about flashy business models and grand ideas for the future. The employees grumbled at his appointment, seeing that his ideas did not bode well for the future, but they had no influence on the board. The new CEO, in short, made some terrible decisions over the next few years that cost the company millions. The board replaced him, but found that the company was now in a difficult budgetary shortfall and straining to maintain market position. After preliminary budget cuts (supplies, travel, other misc. stuff), they were still not gaining any ground. With approval of the CEO and Board, the budget was further trimmed by cutting the salary of employees, increasing the cost of benefits, and forcing furlough days to the high-dollar development employees (among a few others). Meanwhile, the Board members retained their pay and benefits.

This closely parallels your suggestion: The people who put the bad CEO in place (board members / aka voters), took no responsibility. Nor did the bad CEO's successor - who sacrificed nothing more than his "bonus", which was above and beyond the pay he signed on for. The price was instead paid by the employees; the same ones who did not have any input on the change in leadership that caused their business to end up in the toilet.
By the way, the board members (all making $100,000/yr or more, easily), probably could have much more easily taken a pay hit than the factory worker making $35,000/yr.

So, is that a fair and equitable solution? You decide.

PTClurker
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The conversation continues...

To answer your final question bluntly, but straightforwardly: No, that's not fair (for the employees in your example), but that's life.

I do like your company analogy of the voters being board members and our city council being the CEO so I'll role with it...

That situation you describe happens over and over again in this country. I work in the commercial sector and coincidentally I, at this very moment, am in a situation where prior "leaders" have put all our jobs in serious jeopardy (not just 1% pay cuts and furloughs, mind you). Those "leaders" have since been ousted, but should I be entitled to keep my job while board members (or our equivalent) are the ones who should be made to sacrifice? Indeed perhaps, but it won't happen because as we know, and as I mentioned - that's life. That's the way a capitalistic society works. If everyone is to be treated fairly, despite fluctuations and rises and falls in a world market, well, I would argue that starts down the fuzzy path towards a certain ideology quite opposite from capitalism...

It's survival of the fittest in this world, and in business it's no different. Sometimes that survival takes a little luck. It was my decision to work for this company and my decision to take the risks that go along with it. I'm not complaining about what I knew could always happen (i.e. layoffs). (In fact, in a fiscally responsible manner, I prepared for the possibility by saving what funds I could, but I digress.)

I DO think that government employees can very very much be compared with employees for the private sector. And they should not be exempt from the same risks, the same system, and perhaps indeed the same unfortunate "unfairness" of the rest of the commercial world.

And to add one more twist to this whole analogy. The voters in this analogy actually wear not one but TWO hats. In one role they are board members, in the other role they are also the customers. I won't dive into that aspect of the analogy, because I think the merit of what I say above stands on it's own, but it's another point nonetheless.

In coming full circle from my initial post, however, I would like to reiterate that I DO feel taxes are indeed a necessary part of life, and for the continued success of this superb city. I do not think this situation SHOULD be put on the backs of the employees... but I more strongly think that we should not keep feeding a council money that they have proven they can't use responsibly YET. Thus, in this unfortunate case the realities of the world set in for our government employees that the other 99% of other folks of this world have to experience. The employees are stuck in the middle, but that's life. ... and quite frankly they should be counting their blessings that 1% cuts and furloughs are all they are at risk for.

I didn't make the rules, as unfair as they may be. But government employees should not be exempt from the same rules that everyone else has to live by.

Terriers88
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Joined: 12/01/2005
Private Business vs Government

Mr. Imker has this idea that we can solve the budget shortfall solely on the backs of the employees. His plan has a very major fatal flaw. Fatal for the City. Last year, 23 public works employees were let go so the City could outsource it's landscaping for a savings of $800,000 plus dollars. What did we get for that? Landscaping that looks like crap, trash and dead animal carcasses everywhere. Someone, somewhere mentioned that the average city employee makes, around $40,000 or so and most cannot afford to live here. The second part of that is a very true statement. Yet the employees care a great deal about Peachtree City. Why? It is truly a special place to live and work and we are all very proud of it. Example #1. The 23 landscaping crew members. Most did not live here. Yet they cared about the City like it was their own front lawn. Before every major event where people from out of town would come, they were out in force,often after hours, picking up trash, cutting the grass and cleaning up the debris and dead animals to make it presentable. They cared and did an excellent job. Example #2: Heard at the retreat, Randy Gaddo and his staff at the Kedron Fieldhouse worked long and hard to make that facility turn a profit. As Mr. Gaddo said, his staff cared about making the place work rather than turn it over to an outside company. A resident who lives in that area and uses the facility also came forward and said she prefers to keep it City run because the employees really care about their jobs and the citizens of this community. Example#3: Peachtree City Police. Underfunded and understaffed, they still manage to keep a lid, barely, on crime here despite the increasing influences of Riverdale and South Fulton County. Example#4: Peachtree City Fire Department. Top notch. The fact that the ISO rating is now a 3 and your insurance rates are a bit lower should be sufficent.

Now lets talk employee pay cuts and furloughs. Every employee in every department is already doing more with less. We have already taken pay cuts in the form of no pay raise last year, and likely again this year. Our costs were also doubled. We pay the same prices everyone else pays for gasoline, food and so on. Mr. Imker talks about cutting the pay of the top earners in the City. Who will that impact and what will be the result? The people he will impact will be the ones who went to schools, earned certifications and degrees and bettered themselves to make themselves better employees for the citizens of Peachtree City. There are also many employees who have been here many years, worked hard and have been rewarded with good merit reviews and pay raises. This will be nothing more than punishment for doing a good job. What will happen next will be employee apathy. Employees will not make the personal sacrifices necessary to further themselves if they will get nothing in return. Employees may not be so inclined to work hard to get a good evaluation to get that extra pay raise if they are going to have it taken away because now they earn too much. This is by no means a threat in any way what so ever. It is simple employer/employee relations. If an employee works hard and is not rewarded or has that reward taken away, there is no motivation to do well. I have worked in private industry. I have seen this happen. What you will end up with is mediocrity.

When all is said and done, I think we all want to keep Peachtree City the beautiful place it is. To do that, we all need to pitch in. The employees willingly gave up pay raises, and took benefit cost increases with the understanding that the citizens would be asked to do their part. A small tax increase is not too much to ask. I work here, I live here. Things are tight for me just like everyone else. But I am willing to pay a little more to keep what we have here. I have never lived in such a nice place and I want to keep it this way. This isn't just about the employees. It's about the quality of life we have here.

inkslinger
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Again, Another City Employee

heard from. The passion is there. The money to pay for that passion isn't and won't be for the next few years, from what the numbers show.

So, in your mind, kick the can down the road (as a current mayor likes to say) and keep the staff. Bad, bad choice.

Next year, fewer reserves to use, much, much less money coming from state and county level are definitely a fact we are already aware of. The shortsightedness is right in front of us. Raise taxes now that will NEVER be rolled back, even when the economy improves. And so it goes, generation after generation pays more and more in taxes forever more.

dar thompson
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Joined: 08/23/2006
When are you

people going to understand how money and value work? If someone can't pay the extra $3.00 per month to maintain their home value(s), and quality of life for us all, maybe they should just pick up their belongings and move somewhere else. It's not hard to figure out.

On another note, we have the Kedron Aquatic Center and Field House that 95% of our citizens don't even use...shut that down or find an answer to the problem and you wouldn't have to increase taxes.

When will we quit stepping over dollars to pick up pennies?

MYTMITE
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Dar, you are just all heart, aren't you?

Where does it say that taxing every one $3.00 a month would take care of all our problems? I would gladly pay $3.00 a month to have Peachtree City be what it should be and has been in the past. But, to you, Mr. Big Bucks gym owner who is too cheap to put out the money to keep your bathrooms in your facilities clean and free of slime and mold (showers, hot tub, etc), the answer is to tell the average citizen to pack up and move somewhere else.

And, once again, you start on the Aquatic Center---see you still have not gotten over the fact that the citizens of Peachtree City are at least smart enough to see through you and your totally altruistic (ha!) plans to have said center run by an outsider--preferably you--at the city's expense. Take two Tums to get over that heart burn and get a sponge and some disinfectant and go clean a shower or two.

Voter
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I don't want to move out

It's $3.00 a month, plus tax increases from county, state and federal taxes, and many other hidden taxes from healthcare, and bailouts and stimulus, and fees etc, it never ends and it doesn't solve the real problem - government can't seem to cut spending and the people don't want to give up anything. It's time all of us make some hard choices and sacrifices until the economy improves. I'd like the city council to implement some of the suggestions that came out of Imker's public meeting regarding the budget. There were some good ideas there. The reserve fund should be for emergencies. Short term pain for long term gain makes a lot of sense in today's economy.

Terriers88
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Joined: 12/01/2005
Question for you

What do you REALLY want to sacrifice here. Look around, we've already cut out the landscaping for a private firm. Great, the city looks so much better with the poor job they do and all of the dead animal carcasses lying all over the roads. I personally like living here. It's a great quality of life that I am more than willing and able to pay for. No, I'm not rich, I'm a working class stiff like many. Look around you, Riverdale and South Fulton County are creeping in this direction. Do you want to continue cutting away what makes Peachtree City special? Do you want Peachtree City to be referred as a place that USED to be a nice place to live and raise a family? It's a small amount to pay to preserve what we have.

PTCitizen
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Joined: 10/30/2005
Imker's quest for the greater good?

“Many, many folks just can’t afford any tax increase."
So in a city with median household income of over $87,000 and median home value of $305,000, there are “many, many” people that cannot bear the burden of an extra $30-40 or so in taxes.

Ok, let's just say I buy into the story that the citizens’ lives would be measurably impacted in anyway by the loss of $3 per month.

If Imker is truly so worried about people suffering some life altering financial impact, how is it his solution is to cause the people with a lower average income to take a much bigger hit?

Let's just assume the average city employee makes $40,000/year (I'm guessing). First of all, they probably can't afford to live in the city they are providing service to - but that aside - the 1% pay cut would be $400/year to them. Surely a more notable impact than $30-$40/year to the average city household. Let's go a step further and say Imker gets his way with furlough days, and that same employee takes a 2 day hit in a year. That's now a total of a $706/year to them. This is likely to have an actual adverse impact on a $40,000/year individual.

I'm at a loss to understand how those people should take that much of a hit instead sharing that burden across the other 35,000+ individuals at the negligible rate of $30-40 (or even $75 for that matter) per household. Let's be honest, how many of the people that live in Peachtree City would actually be affected by that? If you think it's "many, many", or even "several" - your head is in the sand.

If you want the employees to share in the burden of budget shortfall I think that seems fair - how about charging them the same thing as everybody else ($30 - $40 / year) instead of hitting them with such a ridiculously disproportionate amount?

lexveritas
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The Usual Budget Flim-Flam

Good for you, Mr. Imker. Give 'em HELL. You are calling for the right decisions in a time that requires it. There is still way too much waste in too many areas and not nearly enough sacrifice and belt-tightening. Force the staff to open the records - you will find entirely too much still being spent on grass cutting, especially on private property, a long-time bow to developer interests and friends-of-friends in high places. You will continue to find a hugely bloated and wasteful recreation budget, programs that serve a small fraction of the community. And you will find unneeded positions filled with appointees and hacks.
You are absolutely right - sacred cows are being preserved and hard decisions are being ducked.
You will get to the truth if you press hard enough.

idk_revisited
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Joined: 09/29/2006
Truth serum...

OK, lexveritas, here are three pointed questions. You seem to have inside dirt - enlighten us, would ya?

1. Grass Cutting on Private Property - can you please specify where? How about just one example of where it's happening - give us a street name or a property address.
2. Recreation Programs that serve a small fraction of the community - can you please name a couple for us?
3. Unneeded positions filled with appointees and hacks - please let us know three of those positions?

Please, please, please...I'm begging you. You give rhetoric like you know it's true - if the PTC government's hiding something, PLEASE let us know where it is so we can call them out on it.

We're waiting for your response.

Hotels
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Joined: 06/29/2008
Personnel and Capital Expenditures Need Revisited

Everyone in business knows the only way to really trim a budget is through staff reductions and elimination or deferment of capital expenditures. The cuts above seem to be on target but these two areas need more attention.

As I posted in the Comment Section; Would it be the end of the world if we deferred for a year to see if the economy will improve; the purchase of a new fire truck and eight new police cars? In my home if we are unable to buy a new car we simple continue to use the one we have for an extended period. Do not use the $764,000 for a cash purchase nor finance the aquisition. Don't acquire these things at all for atleast one more year. Aren't these city assets maintained impecably anyway?

This line item and a little more will get you almost a million dollars in savings for the fiscal year. If you are unable to find the full million, use the reserve if need be to supplement the revenue shortfall and avoid the tax hike. Enough is enough with taxes.

Terriers88
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You've gotta be kidding

We have not had a significant millage increase in the city in over 21 years. The City has grown considerably in 21 years, taxes have not. For far too long, simple minded politicians have thought about their re-elections and thus would not raise taxes. Instead, past councils have relied heavily on impact fees and put off many many things to a later time "when we could afford it." That works for only so long and it has finally caught up to us. This crisis has been coming for years. The recession only made it worse. Now, this council has the hard decision: Do we raise taxes and preserve Peachtree City as we all want it to be, or do we keep cutting and cutting and let it become a run down dump like Fayetteville and Riverdale? I'll pay the extra taxes thank you. City assets like fire engines take a lot of maintenance. Do you want the oldest engine in the fleet breaking down when your house is on fire and it's your family the firefighters are trying to save? THINK.

Hotels
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Joined: 06/29/2008
Not Kidding..this is serious to many of us...

Having lived here for 25 years I would say I am a stakeholder as you likely are in this great place I / we call home. I don't disagree in that maintaining an aged infrastructure is expensive. I too see the signs of deferred maintenance for lack of funding in this city. The minimal tax increase that is being proposed would not phase me financially. Use of the reserves already paid would not either. Heck our present mayor has pointed out that we are over funded anyway...

My suggestion was to relook at the necessity of these expenses in these troubled times. I truly am not a tea partier type that says no to any new taxes. What chaps my...is the mentality of growing revenue streams in government to grow government. The mentality of we have to make up the shortfall somewhere, might as well raise taxes, initiate new fees after all its only a small price per household..(they'll never even feel it). How about some fiscal austerity for a couple years until the global tides change is all I am asking for.

From what I can tell neither one of use will be able to out run an officer because his car, bike, or atv was at risk of braking down. In fact from what I see there is a good chance you will have 3 cars pulling you over for a simple traffic violation. I am totally impressed as well in the low response time of the fire department with so many stations within 2-3 miles of each other. We are truly blessed. There is no place I'd rather have a house fire or heart attack..

If I was comfortable that our leaders truly took a zero base approach to this budget, that they had no sacred cows and attempted to address at least in appearance well thought out savings; I'd be more receptive in allowing them to meet their goal of "getting a bigger piece of the wallet". Heck if I thought they'd throw some extra at the city's landscaping (outsourcing this did not have to have the impact it did if managed properly) I’d be agreeable to whatever increase in taxes they needed. Make it 2 mills.

At this point with all due respect, I am not convinced. I'd so like to see some serious savings efforts I almost fell for Dar Thompson's rhetoric on the field house and aquatic center so he could get his ice rink built.

Don Haddix
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Joined: 08/17/2007
Haddix: hotels

There is a legal cap of 125,000 miles on a police car. When that is reached it comes out of service and gets transferred to the volunteer police or other areas of the city. They are not wasted.

The fire truck as well has to be replaced. Kiss the ISO rating good bye if we don't and I am not going to be the one to explain the complete loss of a home or a life because we were saving money on an engine.

As with most cities we do a modified version of zero base budgeting. A full zero based is impossible to accomplish every year.

On landscaping it is was not the outsourcing that makes the difference in appearance. It is the mowing schedule that was reduced by Staff to reduce the budget. We had complaints when the city was doing it all and no complaints about the initial outsourced work until the schedule was reduced. The outsourcing was in two stages, not one. One in 2008 and one in 2009.

I have been fighting the Budget battle for over two years now along with Councilman Sturbaum. I got about $1 million of permanent, not temporary, reductions in place that actually improved services in some areas. Sturbaum got more in Rec and some other areas. Also improvements in efficiencies in many areas. But the continued slide of the economy and deferred maintenance and replacements has eaten the gains up and more.

So we are not sitting back twiddling our thumbs or looking for money for pet projects as some accuse us of doing.

Come to the Hearings and voice your opinion and hear those of others. From the last two Budgets, two Surveys, email and other contacts I have already heard a lot of citizen input. We will hear more in the Budget process.

Hotels
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Joined: 06/29/2008
Vehicle savings a non-option I guess. PCPD & PCFD

Dear Mayor,

I was unaware of the mandate on equipment replacement by law and ISO rating requirements. Shame seems our hands are tied on this one for an easy but understandable out. An easy answer for you also. Considering the short term hold of these purchases I would not imagine we save a boat load by paying cash as opposed to leasing or financing. Before you try educating me again; I am aware of the vast disparity between the cost of debt vs. interest paid on savings or investments.

I am also assuming that the mileage you have mentioned is where all our vehicles are at. I am assuming there is a good reason our officers drive alone but respond in pairs. I am guessing they cover more ground on patrol this way. I am certain it means more mileage for more vehicles too. Wait that also equates to more citations hence more revenue. This pros and cons approach is making this tougher.

I am also assuming that it is considered perfectly acceptable for the crew of Station 83 (Weber) to use the fire truck for a Crosstown McDonalds run instead of personal vehicles as witnessed today 5/31 @ approx 1:10p. In fairness they may have had official business there.

Thanks for enlightening me about the landscaping.. I now understand the decrease in quality of appearance is by design. I am sure it is tough as hell attempting to budget maneuver in this revenue shortfall times. Mind going on the record saying you'll return/reduce any tax increase taken now, when the economy turns around and the tax base is returned to 2008 levels?

Had my say, see you at the Hearings.

NUK_1
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What? Legal cap on a police car?

Don Haddix says:
There is a legal cap of 125,000 miles on a police car.

Please give me a link to this "law."

Mike King
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Mr Mayor

Granted you have accomplished much during your short tenure, but your staff keeps digging holes for you to fall into at their pleasure. Surely, your statement that it is impossible to accomplish a full zero-based budget every year is made in error. We both know that to be untrue.

Your position on replacing the firetruck is spot on, but would you care to explain the purchase of the new police Mustang? They are more expensive than regular Crown Victorias, but with the uptick in anticipated but unneccessary highspeed chases your police department seems to be flexing its authority over budgetary constraints.

You will continue to fight budget battles throughout your term as Mayor unless you take control of staff spending.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Zero Base

Zero based means re-justifying the whole structure from ground up every year. Nice idea but for any government with any complexity not practical. Thus not done because you would have people working on it year round.

That is per multiple sources including GMA Municipal Finance, Newly elected, etc. classes. Not from Staff.

Maybe this link will help clarify some of what is being talked about so we are on the same page.

As Spyglass said the Mustang was not bought, it was part of an award for excellence. So that saved us from having to buy a vehicle.

On the side say good-bye to Crown Victorias in the future. Ford is discontinuing them and trying to replace them with a version of the Taurus for police use by 2011.

We are examining spending, structure and the rest. We do not depend 100% on Staff for data and ideas.

Mike King
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Zero Based

Then you stand corrected-It is not impossible.

Awarded or not, the Mustang is more expensive, but as you say the Crown Victoria is being discontinued (I guess no one informed you of the Chevy Impala or Dodge Charger being which were both cheaper). The Mustang is designed for a high speed chase which is why they are normally found in the State Patrol.

I hope you never have to explain why some aggressive young officer on patrol harms a bystander.

BoYo
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Joined: 08/29/2009
More expensive?

I'm sorry but could you please explain how being given a free car from the Governor's Office is more expensive than buying one on the city's budget? The police department won that car after being entered into a raffle held by the Governer's Office of Highway Safety, based on their outstanding work. And the "aggressive" young officer who you apparently foresee running people down in the streets is the DARE officer. He takes the car to the elementary schools as a public relations tool for the children. Know what you're talking about before you open your mouth.

Spyglass
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Two Options on the Mustang..

either take the gift and use it, or not. I'm not following your logic.

Spyglass
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Re the Mustang..

I thought it was actually WON by the PTC Police Department...

dar thompson
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Joined: 08/23/2006
Finally,

someone who gets it!

Imker
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No Real PTC Budget Cuts Made

The numbers in the article are not cuts. They were adds that weren't approved. We had a $1.2M problem a month ago. We have the same number of workers with essentialy the same budget as last year. The large $358K of vacant positions was there last year. (We have found we don't need these positions so let's remove them so you won't be misled about "cuts" or "savings.") We still have a $1.2M problem. The proposed solution is 3/4 million of city reserves and 1/2 million in tax. Period.