PTC wants public's take on budget

Questions for town hall meeting can be submitted in advance online

In a departure from tradition, the Peachtree City Council is hosting a town hall meeting on the city’s budget Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Citizens with questions are encouraged to submit them online in advance by visiting www3.peachtree-city.org/erequests/index.php/townhall. Those questions must include the citizen’s name and address so they can be made a part of the meeting record in the same way as those who attend the meeting in person must also provide their name and address.

Council is particularly keen to hear input from citizens as the city continues to struggle with reduced tax revenue brought on by the faltering economy. With reduced property values this year, City Manager Bernie McMullen has recommended a quarter-mill property tax increase to cover the commensurate losses.

The property tax rate increase will have less of an impact on homes whose property values declined, but it will be a net tax increase for those whose property values remained constant or increased.

The budget includes no raises of any form for city employees and the city also will get by without funding seven vacant staff positions.

The majority of city council has indicated no support for further employee cuts, though Councilman Eric Imker said he would like to adopt furlough days, across-the-board pay cuts and employee benefit reductions through elimination of one of the city’s two offered retirement plans.

In the past two years, the city has effectively eliminated 28 full-time positions for cost savings. The city has also adopted policies to charge employees for the privilege of using a take-home vehicle, and the previous benefits afforded to part-time employees have been axed, all in an effort to keep the budget under control.

Among the 38 eliminated positions were the assistant city manager, 23 people in public works maintenance, six in recreation maintenance, four in the building department, and one each from code enforcement, engineering, planning and the Kedron Fieldhouse and Aquatic Center.

Last year the city added six firefighters via a federal grant, a police patrolman and a detective along with a customer service representative and a contract manager for public works to handle the city’s outsourcing of grass mowing and landscaping services that was required with the public works and recreation layoffs.

The budget recommended by McMullen includes a reduction in $49,000 for the city’s July 4 events, as the costs are being shifted to the city’s Tourism Association, which is funded by revenue from the city’s hotel-motel tax.

As for other cuts advocated by Imker, a furlough day would save the city $46,000 and eliminating the city’s 401(k) retirement program would save $170,000. A one percent across the board salary reduction for all staff would save about $133,000.

Thursday’s town hall meeting will be streamed live on the city’s website for those who are unable to attend or would otherwise rather listen in the comfort of their own home or workplace.

The city also is hosting a wealth of budget information on a special page on its website: www.peachtree-city.org/index.aspx?NID=848. On that page is a link to the city manager’s proposed budget, budget presentation materials and also videos of last week’s two budget workshop meetings.

During the town hall meeting, the city will attempt to answer as many questions as possible which were submitted in advance, but not every question or comment may be addressed during the meeting. Each question and comment will be provided to City Council and also city staff, officials said.

jmatt
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Joined: 06/08/2010
Budget Cuts

I agree with the previous comment that additional cuts are needed. I am not in favor of City Manager Bernie McMullen's recommendation for a quarter-mill property tax increase. (These are more (hidden) taxes... death taxes, inheritance taxes, ad valorem taxes, title taxes, sales taxes, income taxes, capital gains taxes, property taxes, state taxes....) Perhaps running the city like we have to run our homes would make sense.... cut backs need to be made regardless of how painful... if the money isn't there for you, you have to make do with what you have. Just a sidenote... personally, I think spending has been a bit frivolous.. over the last 10 years I've watched a perfectly good fountain be re-stoned - a decent library needing minor restorations be completely restored and almost ostentacious fireworks lasting almost TOO long for enjoyment - and wondered at what kind of price... lastly, contact the jails to have mowing crews.. or here's a novel idea.. to receive unemployment, you have to try to work for the government doing something... how about mowing lawns, answering the telephone, sweeping the floors whatever...

Dondol
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Joined: 05/05/2006
I Don't see whats wrong with Imkers plan!

The majority of city council has indicated no support for further employee cuts, though Councilman Eric Imker said he would like to adopt furlough days, across-the-board pay cuts and employee benefit reductions through elimination of one of the city’s two offered retirement plans. I really don't see whats wrong with Councilman Imkers plan, a Huge group of your constituents have had to take pay cuts to keep their companies afloat during these hard time, why not the employees of the Citizens of Peachtree City. If the Employees of the Citizens of PTC were to take a 5% pay cut for the next year that would be a 665,000. savings, add that to 5 furlough days at a savings of 230,000. and you would save close to a Million dollars. These employees have to understand that (like other people out there have already had to do) to keep the jobs that they depend on to feed their families they are going to have to tighten their own belts. And don't give that tired ol crap about we've already given up this or that, the only thing that you've given up are the extra's that you were used to, no ones had to take a real pay cut yet.

PTClurker
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Joined: 02/05/2010
Emphasis on savings

One thing that I think needs emphasis in this article is the compounding effect that savings now would have on the next few years. Hundreds of thousands of savings now can equate to saving millions over the span of a few years and put a huge dent in the current budget problem - significantly more than initially meets the eye from the numbers shown. Furthermore, these cuts proposed seem very reasonable and can easily be un-done once the city gets back on it's fiscal feet. A tax increase? Not so easy to un-do.

Save early (i.e. get as lean as possible now); benefit 10-fold later.

Glad to see this council is opening up the severity of the problem to the public and not just "sweeping it under the rug" for down the road councils to tackle.

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