PTC Council to probe larger tax hike

1.25 mill increase would raise $2M a year

A proposed property tax increase for Peachtree City property owners has become a moving target, at least for now.

Three council members Tuesday night said they want to see numbers on a 1.25 mill increase, which would result in an additional hit of $108 for a home valued at $272,000. Two others want to see a more modest increase of .5 mills, which would result in a $43 increase for that same property.

Mayor Don Haddix and Councilman Doug Sturbaum said they would prefer up to a .5 mill increase, with Haddix noting that a 1.25 increase would hurt the city’s ability to attract industrial employers.

Others, however, are seeing a potential case for the 1.25 mill increase as a way to close a looming $18 million projected shortfall over the next five years. The 1.25 mill increase would raise an estimated $10 million over the next five years.

Councilwoman Vanessa Fleisch said although raising taxes goes against “everything I ever thought about government” this council is supposed to straighten out the city’s financial problems.

“So I’ll look at 1.25 and see where we go,” Fleisch said.

Councilwoman Kim Learnard said while a 1.25 mill increase is “tough” she agreed with Councilman Eric Imker that the long-term problem needed to be solved.

Imker said he merely wanted to see the model for a 1.25 mill increase though he indicated he didn’t support it because he feels the city hasn’t made deep enough cuts to the budget.

Except for Imker, the remainder of council has indicated they support no further staffing cuts or reductions in service levels. But to stay afloat and avoid a property tax increase, the city would need to cut $3.6 million a year to balance its budget, according to City Manager Bernie McMullen.

To make that drastic a cut, the city would have to eliminate funds for the entire recreation department, the Kedron Fieldhouse/Aquatic Center, the Gathering Place and the library, McMullen said.

“That’s the order of magnitude we’re talking about,” McMullen said.

Imker has said he wants to use employee furloughs and an across the board pay cut to trim costs, but there is no stomach to do so among the other four members of council.
Earlier in the meeting, City Finance Director Paul Salvatore noted that in the past two years the city has eliminated about 12 percent of its workforce and also increased employees health insurance costs by $600 a year.

Several council members said they would be willing to consider only a voluntary furlough policy that would allow employees to have more time off should they choose.

Council members also agreed to at a later date explore changes to the city’s retirement plans including a lengthening of the vesting periods in an effort to cut costs, as suggested by Imker.

Mike King
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A Little Common Sense....

...Could go a long way. Five years worth of debt divided equally between reserve, tax increase and payroll reduction. How long does one need to stare at the obvious before they act? Mr Mayor, I supported you based upon what I perceived as leadership qualities required to make tough decisions. Now is not the time to go soft and blend into mediocrity like those before you. We know what has to be done, so begin to destroy the empire Bernie has built at the expense of your constituents.

Or, you can let the city go ahead and cut the $10K check to subsidize his federally mandated and paid insurance.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Mike

You know what I voted to cut and such last year. I just voted to uphold the actions against John Daily concerning that tragic fire issue. I am the same guy that fought CCD for over two years, whose SUP just expired. Otherwise you would be looking at a built Big Box development with a light today.

I have not changed. What has changed is the misconception I can do all needed/desired immediately. There are laws and other factors in play that do not allow it yet.

We really need to sit down and talk to get some issues ironed out. There are far more misunderstandings than real differences between us.

Mike King
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Mr Mayor

No misunderstanding, just someone continuing to reach for not only what is possible, but what we both know to be right for Peachtree City. What surprises me is that you (Council) rightly took action against a Deputy Fire Marshall and ignored the supervisory responsibility of his immediate boss. You may have taken some action in closed session, but since the Chief is still employed, I doubt it. Quite frankly, it should have been the Fire Chief's responsibility to insure that incident was investigated to the utmost since it was his reputation that was on the line, not to mention the reputation of our town. It was not like they had more pressing issues, now was it?

Yes, we need to sit down. Do we require a referee?

Don Haddix
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Haddix: No Referee

Just a willingness to listen and discuss realities. No referee.

He was not the Deputy Fire Marshall, he was the Fire Marshall. The Fire Chief is not the Fire Marshall.

Put that on the list of items to discuss.

Yes, it was a great embarrassment to the Fire Dept. and PTC. There is no way under the sun to deny that.

Mike King
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Don,

Good, I'll coordinate upon my return.

Hotels
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Mr. Imker, Careful What You Ask For.....

Mr. Imker, please don't ask for a chart / model listing the impact on a millage increase of say 5.0 points; these folks (mayor and remaining council members) might try to get it! Their crystal balls have predicted and they have convinced themselves that we will be looking at an $18mil problem over the next 5 years. Have we a best case scenerio?

I for one hope this most likely move to raise our taxes past the breakeven stage of .25+ to 1.25 get's more attention than the first round of talks.. Maybe then they will get the other type of balls to show some real leadership and make more cuts to weather this revenue reduction period. Am I the only citizen paying attention here? History says this increase will never be returned in good times.

Don't get me wrong I agree we have to fix it. I am convinced however that you folks are just too soft or compassionate to make the tough decisions.

I say we deny the increase of $115,000 for the DAPC initiative so that the whole budget process comes to a halt. There is certainly a large enough employee base to push city development without adding a dedicated position if properly lead. "Everyone Sells" Maybe the Mayor's post should not be a part time job.

I find humorous discussion of a voluntary furlough policy; unless of course the charge is lead by the mayor and your fellow council members...hmmm what might that save???

Spyglass
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Sup $$$$$$$$$$

Good to see you around.

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