Imker gets input on PTC’s proposed new budget

Peachtree City Councilman Eric Imker (L) points out some budget figures at City Hall Saturday. Photo/John Munford.

About a dozen Peachtree City residents attended an informal budget meeting with councilman Eric Imker Saturday morning.

In addition to his presentation on the proposed 2011-2012 city budget, Imker also got feedback from those in attendance at the three-hour meeting. What emerged was several members of the populace who took a keen interest in the budget.

Resident Michael Posey questioned why the city wanted to spend $450,000 on the new “bubble” off-season cover for the Kedron pools, theorizing that few residents use the pool in the off-season.

“You ran on the premise of no tax increases,” Posey said of Imker, “... And I think this is the time to rein in the belt, not spend, spend, spend.”

Resident Lynda Wojcik — who also serves as a volunteer member of the city’s Planning Commission — countered that even though she doesn’t use the Kedron pools, the bubble helps her property value.

Imker noted that not including the expenses for lifeguards and other staffers, the pools generate $60,000 in revenue during the off-season when the bubble is in use, which will more than pay for the bubble expenditure. He also added that the bubble, in addition to helping property values, also helps make the city “a desirable place to live.”

Imker later noted that he devised more than $2 million in budget cuts last year that were defeated on separate council votes. And because the city faced a severe projected budget shortfall, the other choice was to raise taxes, Imker said.

The good news, though, is that in addition to avoiding a property tax increase this year, the city is on track to have a sustainable budget within the next several years, Imker said.

Starting in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the city had to add $1.5 million additional for public works to cover the street and cart path resurfacing and maintenance that previously had been funded with proceeds from the 2003 countywide transportation sales tax initiative.

Resident Scott Austenson suggested that the city should have developed its budget by asking staff to do a series of budget recommendations based on varying levels of cuts such as 2, 4 and 6 percent. He also was critical of the fact that his subdivision, Hyde Park, remains unconnected to the city’s cart path system.

The cart paths, Austenson contended, are one of the main reasons that people move to Peachtree City, yet the city hasn’t included general fund budget money for cart paths the past several years due to using SPLOST money instead, he added.

Imker replied that the city will have some money to build the “smaller” new cart path, which can have a significant impact, he said. Imker said one of his high priorities is to have one going up the northern part of Robinson Road and then east on Ga. Highway 54 toward the Publix shopping center.

Austenson also said he worried about the City Council seeking more than $3 million in new bond financing for infrastructure repairs and maintenance but not adopting a more transparent process so citizens can get information on the progress of the various projects. Austenson said he was very unhappy with the lack of information available on the city’s website relating to the city’s projects completed as part of the county’s 2003 transportation sales tax.

Imker also noted that one of the budget policies he pushed for last year, which was approved by council, requires the city to roll back its millage rate and thus lower property taxes whenever it gets an unexpected revenue stream such as a new sales tax initiative. He noted, however, that the policy could change at any time.

Imker also pointed out that the new bonds will allow the city to refinance and see a cost savings on several other existing bonds as well. The estimated savings is tabbed at $162,000.

Another citizen suggested that he has seen what he perceives as a large number of city vehicles on the road, with a suggestion they be reduced for a cost savings.

Imker said that while the police department initially requested 10 new vehicles this year, the request later was trimmed by one.

In terms of the overall budget, Wojcik said she would rather the city spend what it needed rather than slash the budget in the hopes of saving her $100 a year in city taxes.

“If I have my way, there will never be another tax increase in Peachtree City ... because we’ve been taking care of the budget,” Imker said moments later.

Imker's slot on the council is one of two positions to be voted on in city elections in November. He is in his second year of a two-year term in the post vacated by Mayor Don Haddix when he resigned to run for mayor.

roundabout
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Fuddie-duddie leg contest

I never did like for people to point their sun glasses at me!

Were these special guests invited to back-up his thoughts?

Did the one female have on shorts? Maybe these people are from California!

Cyclist
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Probably not roundabout

I would say more like Florida.

Citizen_Steve
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Bubble sponsors?

Good to hear that the bubble may get paid for via use funds, but I wonder if it is possible to have sponsor banners inside to further offset costs, like other sports venues have. As is, the inside of the bubble is pretty drab and sponsor banners would be an improvement.

moelarrycurly
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User funds?

Right now, it is taking in that income. The loan for this bubble is going to be for 10 years.

Is this facility going to be in use for the next 10 years? Who knows.

Is the city guaranteed that income for each of the next 10 years? Absolutely not.

Does the city have a guarantee from the engineers that the decking around the pool is structurally sound enough for this new anchor system?

Remember, there was only one bidder on this. One, in the whole country. That should be a big red flag right there.

Ninja Guy
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Imker Gets It!

Finally, someone who is serious about running government like a business--spend what you need to make your business attractive to customers and potential customers, and therefore successful! The bubble is but one of those amenities in PTC! We need a yearly registration fee for golf carts to improve and expand the cart path system, the crown jewel of PTC. Dagney Taggart only ran her trains on the best tracks!

However, Imker needs to scale back his grocery budget, which is obviously out of control!

Go Braves when you come back from the All Star Break!

PTC Observer
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Actually Ninja Guy

I agree on the golf cart fees per year, those that use a service should pay for it.

On another note, those that use the "bubble", pool, tennis courts, basketball center, and in-line skate center should pay for those too.

Ninja Guy
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More Fees

As far as I know, swimmers that use the pool in the winter while it is bubbled do have to pay. I think it is 5 bucks per visit or something like that. I have never used it, but that that is my understanding. I think the users of the other facilities, aside from basketball and tennis, do pay for use through their respective league fees, a part of which goes to the rec department. I'm in favor of paying more to get better stuff! There are enough crappy towns in Georgia. Let's not create another one due to penny pinching on things that make PTC a good place to live and keeps the bank robbers out!

Way to Go Braves--11 to 1 on the return after the All Star break!

Spyglass
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Yet the entire 30269 zip code

benefits. There is a reason people like PTC, and it's not because of what we DO NOT have.

Robert W. Morgan
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Yep, user fees are a reasonable solution

Pretty simple really. We have had a free ride for long enough, so now we convert to a pay-as-you-use system to cover the shortfall in operating expenses. What other choice is there? Cut expenses? Let me rephrase - have government cut back on their expenditures? Yea, right. Government regulates much better than anything else it does, so let them loose. Regulate and charge.

I say we get serious about establishing user fees for the paths, the expensive bubble, ballfields, swimming pools, tennis courts, BMX, dog park, maybe even the lake. Annual golf cart registration is a no-brainer and easy to administer and collect. The others not so easy, but for sure we need to look into it. By saying "we", I mean you Mr. New City Manager.

moelarrycurly
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Cart path user fees

should the runners, walkers, and bike riders pay a fee to use the paths? Out of towers that use the paths?

This is what you will probably see in the next year or two. Annual registrations like what RWM said. But, instead of PTC getting all the income, the state will get some, too. These registrations would likely be entered into the same database as all other motor vehicles, thus allowing PTC PD patrols on the paths to actually be able to verify ownership of a cart as an incident with one occurs, which is not the case now.

Any PD patrol on the path right now has no way of looking up who owns the cart from any equipment they have with them. Can't look up prior offenses, either, if there are any.

For the additional income generated by stepped up registrations, the locals here will probably have to give up a lot more than they expect. Be careful what you wish for.

PTC Observer
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MLC - Cath path users

So, the technology argument doesn't stop us from establish user fees.

As far as joggers, walkers, bikes, etc. well yes they use the path but it is the golf cart that degrades the path the most. So it is the golf cart is the most obvious and user justified way of keeping the paths maintained.

How many out of city golf carts would travel the paths without a PTC “tag” now?

If you want to use it, pay for it.

bad_ptc
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PTC Observer, "it's golf cart that degrades the path the most?

Try tree roots and erosion.

I guess thats why you blame govt. workers for the deficit problems.

PTC Observer
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bad_ptc - roots

Yep those roots are bad aren't they?

However, paths, if they are to exist, must overcome tree roots and erosion. So, therefore they must be repaired. Let's have the people that use the paths the most pay for their repair. Seems fair doesn't it?

I think you missed the point entirely if you think I blame the deficit problem on government workers. I blame the deficit problem on those that demand that the government spoonfeed them and then reward politicans for doing so. My point about people who work for the government is quite simple, everyone works in their own self-interest. Government workers are no different, they should not be allowed to raise their own salaries, power, and influence by electing those that feather their nest. Hope that clears this little point up for you.

If you want to find out who is to blame for our deficity spending, the every American simply needs to get up in the morning and look in the mirror. Read my footnote closely.

roundabout
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PTC Observer

Maybe I misunderstand just how all this wasted money comes about.

I have always though that Congress (our reps) voted in in!

The ones being spoon fed can not get their oatmeal unless Congress authorizes it! They sometimes even override the President's veto!

It sounds like you simply don't like that system of government.

The only other kind is a dictatorship!

Evil Elvis
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@PTC Observer

So ... what does the "tag" fee pay for?

PTC Observer
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Evil E - Tag fee

Well I am not sure actually, but I don't think the fee every five years pays for much.

We have (had) I am not sure it's hasn't changed a law in Georgia that state taxes collected for gasoline are to be used solely for roads. This is a rational way of maintaining our roads and building new ones. Those that use the roads pay for them.

I am saying we should use the same idea with our golf cart paths. Those that use them pay for them. The tag fee should be used as a taxing method for accomplishing this. I don't know what it would be, but it would be more that $25 per five years for sure.

roundabout
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PTC Observer: Carts

Think out a little further please!

Our ads to come to PTC would then have to say, "we have 100 miles of golf cart and walking paths, but you will have to pay for the extension and maintenance of them to use them."

"Cost right now (it might say) will be about $500 a year, since we only tax those with a golf cart---not bicycles and dogs!"

Then: "Now that we are getting all of that money from golf carts, let's make little parks along the way for resting."

Robert W. Morgan
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You stumbled upon a good idea there, turbanboy

Dogs and bikes must be registered to be on the PTC cart paths - even out of towners. Annual fee about $35 for dogs and $50 for bikes. Daily fee for visitors $10. Fines for non-compliance - $100. How about that?

bad_ptc
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moelarrycurly, did the PTCPD stop issuing radios?

As the cart registration 'database', maybe an excel spreadsheet, is on the city network I would think that someone at the PD could do a lookup if needed.

moelarrycurly
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bad-funny

about the radios.

Jan 20, 2011 council mtg. minutes (man, that takes time to look up!). page 8.

"Asked if a cart was pulled over for cause, what was needed to be done to determine if a cart was legally registered. Clark said the officer would have to go back to the office to determine if a gas golf cart was legally registered."

And remember, do I have to carry proper ID while on the cart? Don't think so. So, if officer friendly stops me, he has no database at his disposal (right there), nor can he require proper ID. But that's a whole 'nother issue.

There are some things better left unsaid on this blog, so I'll stop here.

I do believe if I took about another 3 hours, I can find more comments made about the lack of a "system", but I'm just not in the mood right now.

It's a simple thing. For everyone to respect the freedoms we have now with the carts, they need to behave. If not, big bro is gonna legislate the fun right out of our beautiful paths.

I think our PD does a great job with what they have to work with. I do believe, as with all freedoms, we have boneheads that will ruin it and we will all have to pay a higher price in the way of more laws and rules and fees and enforcement.

Rememeber, the state just this year legislated that carts are now considered "motorized vehicles"? We are exempt for now, as we already have our own laws on our books.

bad_ptc
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moelarrycurly, it's actually worse than you thought

As of Jan. 01, 2012 SB 240 becomes law.

Atlanta - Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill Thursday, May 6, 2011, to allow golf carts on city streets in Georgia.

Carts can roll onto streets beginning Jan. 1, 2012.

Golf carts must have safety features, travel no faster than 20 mph, and must be allowed by local jurisdictions, according to wording in the bill (SB240).

Georgia is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of golf carts. The legislation aims to promote both the use of golf carts and job growth.

My question now is can PCT still tax me, $12.00/5 years to drive my golf cart? Not according to Georgia law.

Robert W. Morgan
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I'm more offended by the flip flops

and the sloppy dress than I am by his gut. I mean he knew he was going to city hall Saturday when he got dressed - didn't he? It was in the newspaper.

To be fair he does seem to get it. Certainly more than our "mayor"

Yearly cart registration fee is a good idea. $50 would raise about $600,000 per year and that's a lot of improvements and maintenance. Better yet a $100 fine for not having a current registration would raise even more and keep the police on the cart paths where they are needed.

Citizen_Steve
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Reduce the Police on paths

IMHO there are too many police on paths as-is - they often drive dangerously, their carts are noisy and smell, and they stop drivers for no reason. I wonder if a cart cop has yet to apprehend someone on a path for a non-victimless crime.

Robert W. Morgan
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Non-victimless crime? Like rape? You dope

IMHO there are not enough police on the cart paths. Do you not remember the rape of an innocent female 3 years ago? How it was discovered and solved? Geeeeez.

Hope you run into one of those thugs from Harmony Village after dark some night and have time to call for the police you are dumping upon.

moelarrycurly
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rwm-have you tried

to drive by any of the Latina baby mama carts that are all over the place? These chicas don't read English, many or most are illiterate anyway. They don't know what left or right is, as you can witness by the middle of the path that they drive on.

They load these carts up with 2 or 3 other chicas, packs of bambinos on their laps, and go to Kroger or Walmart or the Dollar Store. Then they stand outside the store by the carts and habla espanol while the bambinos run all over the parking lot as the rest of us try to dodge them. Big social event.

PTC Observer
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Moe?

Did you write this really?

Or did someone sit down at your computer while you were away and write this tripe?

Your WAY too smart for something like this stuff.

Cyclist
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I'm shocked!!!!

PTC police uses gasoline powered carts. Does the Mayor know this??????

moelarrycurly
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Cy, they are

ATV's, not carts. And when they are out, they run 'em about twice the speed of anything else on the paths. They do it while standing up on them too, the show offs.

Speaking of moving vehicles, couldn't that 767 at Logan have picked on another airline last evening? Jeesh! That seat belt ain't coming off me till we're parked at that gate from now on!

Cyclist
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Moe....

ATV's? I thought that was illegal since they are not "roadworthy" according to the Georgia Vehicle Code. Oh well, I don't live there.

Ah yes, taxing those airplanes. Back when the earth was cooling off and I was a mechanic at a Los Angeles based airline one of my jobs was to taxi B727 and DC10 aircraft back and forth between the terminal and the hangar. Two things that scared me were running into things like little airplanes and ground vehicles. As you can imagine forward and side visibility is excellent when you are in the "wheel house" of a big bird. But vision behind and below is not so good. When you make turn, especially in a jumbo jet, you hope and pray that nothing gets in the way of the "outboard or outside" wing. Now those cars driving around....they just better stay out of the way. Let’s see, the big bird weighs in at +350,000 lbs and the car weighs……I think you get the picture. (Bug squat)

We are right though what luck Delta bus hitting another. Ouch!!!!

MajorMike
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cy - gas carts

If I can finish putting the new oil injector on my Yahama cart I'm going to ride it to the next City Council meeting. Since it's fairly quite, I might just add some oil to the gas just to make a statement. I might also wear shorts and flip flops. Imker may have started a new fashion trend called "old fart tackey".

BTW - You have excellent taste in choice of personal firearms. What caliber was that - 7.62? Puff Jr.

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