PTC Council remains at property tax impasse

Members battle over funding for development authority: $35,000 vs. $150,000

The Peachtree City Council continues to appear headed for a deadlocked vote on the millage rate for the 2010-2011 fiscal budget year.

A discussion of the matter got a bit heated at Thursday night’s council meeting. A public hearing on the budget ended without resolving a potential 2-2-1 split vote on the millage rate, which would be short of the three-vote majority needed to resolve the matter.

A .5 mill tax increase, which would cost the average $272,000 home in Peachtree City an extra $43 on its tax bill, is supported by Mayor Don Haddix and Councilman Doug Sturbaum.

A 1.25 mill tax increase, which would cost the same home $108 more than this year’s property tax bill, is supported by Councilmembers Kim Learnard and Vanessa Fleisch.

The lone vote belongs to Councilman Eric Imker, who said Thursday night that he opposed any millage rate increase for the city because he was voted into office based on that being his position toward the city’s budget.

Imker also suggested his mind could be changed if City Council were to eliminate a “second” retirement fund allowed for city employees which would save the city $170,000 a year.

Imker also said he wouldn’t commit to his opposition of any property tax increase.

“I’m certainly not going to take the position that I won’t change my mind unless I get my way,” Imker said.

That comment was a shot at the position of Haddix and Sturbaum, who both have said they would not vote in favor of any city budget that doesn’t include $150,000 in funding for the city’s development authority.

That would be an increase from the authority’s current funding of $35,000 a year. The increase has been opposed by council members Imker, Fleisch and Learnard.

Haddix said the city needs to fund a development authority staffer who can go recruit businesses to the city to bring jobs here. Currently the authority is supported in part by a city staffer, but Haddix contends the city employee cannot do business recruitment because tax incentives cannot be discussed.

Learnard pointed out Thursday night that she has offered a compromise: that the city would hire an employee for the city’s Community Development Department who could handle many DAPC functions.

“My argument is we should be coming here together. Mr. Mayor, can you honestly say you’ve tried to come together, work together with the five city council members in a positive spirit to work out some kind of reasonable compromise?”

Haddix replied by saying the authority’s funding request was not randomly developed as Learnard had suggested.

Development Authority Chairman Mark Hollums said the authority truly needs a full-time staffer to handle the workload that may well end up burning out the existing volunteer authority members.

Learnard noted that council does not have any measurable goals if the authority were to hire a full-time staffer.

“I have seen no goals, no metrics, no targets,” Learnard said. “What is our objective and how do we know?”

Sturbaum chided Learnard for not seeking that information earlier.

Hollums said that job duties for an authority staffer could be developed.

There are 400 remaining undeveloped acres of land in the city’s industrial park, but the city has no estimation yet of how many facilities in the park need to be redeveloped.

The development authority funding issue remained unchanged after the discussion, as none of the five council members indicated a willingness to change their mind.

In terms of the millage rate increase, the 1.25 millage rate increase is looked upon favorably by some because it would raise $10 million towards the projected $18.5 million shortfall that city officials are expecting over the next five years. That shortfall is largely attributed to the loss this year of funding of the countywide transportation sales tax, which means the city will have to find $1.5 million in its budget annually to handle road and cart path maintenance and repaving.

The other main part of the shortfall is an anticipated $1 million annual reduction in the city’s local option sales tax revenues due to the city’s population growth slowing compared to the remainder of Fayette County.

The city’s take of the county’s sales tax typically is adjusted to the most recent population figures from the U.S. Census.

SPQR
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Hadix

You must have overlooked my question/comments about gas golf carts that I posted yesterday afternoon.

Spyglass
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I'm for banning any new registrations of the stinkers..

Grandfather the old stinkbombs if we must....

What say you?

Imker
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Taxing Mil Ret - Out of Line

Dear Mr. Mayor,
Your statement about taxing military benefits is out of line. You essentially joked about what if those benefits were taxed. Well guess what Mr. Mayor? My military retirement pay is taxed here in GA. Not only that, I have to pay ~$2,000 a year to make sure my medical coverage is risk free. (Quarterly premium payments of over $300 plus $600 a year in deductibles.) That $2000 I pay is after taxes I pay on my ordinary income. So don't go joking about this subject. You will get an ear full if you continue. You'd think disabled retired vets would get a tax break. Only if it's over 50% disabled. The only break I get is one free prescription for a service connected disability.
Oh yea, we don't get any eye or dental coverage either.
Eric Imker

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Councilman Imker

No, it was not out of line because it was made to illustrate the point that some who want city pensions cut are on taxpayer pensions, such as yourself.

$2,000 a year is a bargain for insurance. Try upwards to a $1,000 a month for many to have insurance. Or those with preexisting conditions who cannot beg, borrow or steal a plan, medical, prescription or otherwise unless they are working for a company. Which makes the unwanted in the market place. Like me.

For the public I get no benefits from the city.

I support military pensions, private pensions and public pensions. So I believe I have a right to demonstrate the contradictions of those who have who want to take from those who do not have it as good. I am not the one talking cuts, you are.

I agree on the disabled vets. I am one but do not have over 50%.

Heck, I got hit with a 50% pay cut from $18,000 to $9,000. A cut you originally said you didn't support and then did.

So, please, I am the wrong person for you to be lecturing, especially on a public forum. You should have taken this conversation private between us. Forcing me to respond here was not wise at all.

Courthouserules
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Mayor

I wonder how many PTC residents realize that a full family major medical coverage now costs about $16,000 a year and if you aren't paying that much yourself then you are having taxes or your employer pay the rest?
There are some with big deductible and quacky doctor groups in cahoots who will do it cheaper.

I'm really getting fed up with the hypocrisy of many people who are collecting tax paid pensions and insurance not wanting others to have any.
Everyone can't go to West Point or be Politicians! (or Work as executives at large corporations.)
If everyone is even then we are Communists---except for the Politburo!

Courthouserules
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It takes a depression!

Ever see as many pensioners and wounded military with disabilities asking for sympathy? They may not think they are---just defending them self---but silence is better.
Why do so many swarm to city and county and state tax paid offices for second and third pensions? I think I just said the answer for many.
We have a city full of retired civil servants, military, airlines, them what work in towers, disabled, and others; most are "conservatives" who want nothing from the government or taxes! They say.
That last statement is all I am against about all of it.

If you want to see another group of pensioners who are starving---go to Detroit or coal country!

Voter
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splost

The mayor and council wants gasoline carts researched, what about Splost. In 2003 it was hard to imagine today's economy. The road to no where is a waste of money. The Mayor says it is a done deal and apparently has no objection. The towns in Walton County returned money to the County to reduce tax's. Fayette County commissioners want us to think that can't be done, but it was. Is the Mayor part of the good old boys club. Why are we not having conversations with the county concerning this? Why is raising tax's easier then dealing with employee pay and benifits. I think it is because they see the employees as friends who they don't want to disappoint and the tax is someone else's money. Predictions are saying that next year will even be a worse economy. At what point do we make the tough decisions.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Voter - SPLOST

Walton County returned city SPLOST money to the County for the County portion of the SPLOST, not a refund to the taxpayers because that is impossible to determine distribution and illegal to even try to do so. But by helping with the projects funding the net effect benefited the taxpayers.

The County could have not funded the WBP and redistributed the funds to the cities to complete projects beneficial to the cities which would in the net effect benefit the property tax payers of each city and the county as a whole. All it took was to renegotiate the distribution with the cities.

The case the county cited relocated and redesigned an approved project. That was illegal but has noting to do with the claimed illegality of redistributing money to other approved project in the County, city or otherwise.

I had talked to one on one about the SPLOST redistribution as a Councilman. The answer was no and they fully intended to built it, thus the done deal statement scenario.

This year Council wanted and I instructed Staff, now as Mayor, to contact the County and requested the ending of the WBP and redistribution of the money. I know at least one other city supported that action because I talked to their Mayor about it. Again, we were told no, they were going to build it. So the done deal statement yet again confirmed.

Maybe a point being missed here is that after our old SPLOST was passed the law was revised to allow some General Fund expenditures, like debt reduction, to be valid SPLOST projects. So, transferring money to an approved project is fully legal, as in Walton.

I have said repeatedly we need a new SPLOST with the main component being debt reduction to reduce the Property Tax millage rate since SPLOST has so much less individual impact than Property Tax while generating a lot more total income.

As for being a good old boy, hardly. In example I am an Independent, Maxwell and Frady did a fund raiser for Plunkett and Stoddard, representing the local Republican Party, endorsed Plunkett, which isn't supposed to be done in a non partisan election.

Finally, we have cut workers and their pay and benefits. Did that last year.

What some have not done is to stop looking at taxes, any kind, as the sole avenue to fix income problems. No economic development component, meaning DAPC, is at the top of the list.

I agree next year can be far worse, thus another reason not to do a 1.25 but focus on other avenues of gaining income.

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splost

Thank you for your reply. You are correct that the law changed and allowed that projects and money can be changed by agreement between the city and county. If the city made a effort to do this it was not made public. I think the people would have supported that effort. Eric Maxwell is a Peachtree City guy and if he said no, I would get that on the record. It does not seem
there was much discussion or explanation. Where is the common sense to not fight for what you would like to get done. Let people know what you think. I have not heard a public statement on the waste of money for the bypass. You were independent on the council and that is what got my attention and what I voted for in the last election. A bad idea is a bad idea if it was last year or yesterday. Someone in the county government must understand the $30,000,000+ dollars could be better distributed. I would like to know who you spoke with at the county level who said no. Thanks Mayor.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Voter

That would be Jack Smith, who is a the Peachtree City resident. I believe Eric Maxwell lives in the County.

I have never supported the WBP, TDK extension or Commuter Rail. In fact we took the TDK extension, the Rail Station and the non grad 74/54 intersection out of the the PTC portion of the Transportation Plan, all of which Smith defended as needed in 2008.

He also has said he wanted to see 54 widened to six lanes because there was too much traffic in his commute. That goes with the desire to widen all of 85.

Maxwell and Smith were supporters of Logsdon. Maxwell and Frady did fund raising for Plunkett.

They cut the Rec money to PTC by 1/3 and called it cost savings. Not much saving there when we will be charging it back to non PTC County residents using our facilities.

So, obviously there are a lot of things we disagree on quite strongly.

As for changing the SPLOST distribution once it was approved the County totally controlled their portion. So all we could do was ask.

Finally, there is also funding from the EBP. It was said that would be redistributed to the cities but we have not seen it happen yet.

Voter
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splost

There is strength in numbers and that seems what you may have missed. I still think it can happen if we get the right people in office. I appreciate your answers. I think many people would like to hear more candid answers from our elected officials. I am aware that Smith and Maxwell keep changing answers when it comes to the bypass but I would like to see a organized effort by the city to try and kill the project. The election this week may give you a glimmer of hope.

Mike King
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SPLOST

As far as another SPLOST is concerned in Fayette County, one may as well forget about it. I do give you credit for trying to tap into existing SPLOST monies, but your chances there are between slim to none. Fact is, that Peachtree City is the only town in Fayette County that has yet to deal with its spending/debt seriously.

Does anyone expect Fayette County to bailout its largest town on the backs of all county residents? Peachtree City got itself into this mess and will have to extricate itself within its own resources.

Mr Mayor you say we have cut workers and their pay last year. You cut twenty-five maintenence types, retained the supervisors, and hired two additional supervisors to oversee a grass cutting contract that you've recently increased by $30K. You tout the fact that you maintain staff positions unfilled like that of the assistant city manager. Fact is, that position was created by Mr Brown for no other reason than to placate his city manager. It wasn't needed then, and it has proven to be unnecessary since. As a friend said to me today, "Haven't they even considered a ten percent across the board cut?"

Your proposal to augment DAPC has merit, but the odds are that any benefit derived from this will be long after your first term. You might consider getting Peachtree City through the next three to four years on a substantially more austere budget. We both know revenue continues to decline, but city expenditures have yet to be reduced. One only needs to look at the proposed budget to see that.

Please don't tell me that if you don't get SPLOST monies, that you'll consider placing the city into bankruptcy.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Mike

Please, again, get your facts straight first.

In example, we removed the Asst City Manager position over a year ago, did not hire two supervisors for grass, just one and didn't increase grass by $30,000, it was $21,000. But we are still saving over $800,000 a year.

In fact, we agreed to remove all the unfilled positions from the Budget so they have to be requested again in the future if needed.

We combined the Public Works and Stormwater Directors position. Thus saving the pay for one.

As well Fayetteville, with no Rec or EMS and some other items was expected to raise their taxes by .29 on Thursday, I believe. The County is farther in debt than we are, by a long shot. So bailing out PTC is an inaccurate statement when they would benefit as well.

Never another SPLOST? Maybe, maybe not, but never is a long time and I think people are catching on to what I am saying as property taxes go up in the County, not just here. But the election this year and next are political concerns for pursuing, I agree.

Cuts, we already did.

As for no impact from DAPC during my term, that has already been proven erroneous. They could have done more already with more funding.

Is there more to do? Yes, there is, but some of it cannot be done until future fixed dates.

The Budget is still hovering around the old level, which is actually down since there have been some big bumps in certain costs, beyond our control, that have offset a lot of the cuts.

Nope, if it keeps sliding no bankruptcy. But maybe some large transfers of tax expenditures to fees so users can have the choice of paying or not.

It is a rough time and we cannot stay the old path, I agree. But we cannot cut so much we destroy what we are.

Maybe we could make some money by taxing your military retirement benefits? Kidding, really, but you have to admit you do benefit from a pension that is paid for by taxpayers. So please don't have a double standard. As well when working your not poorly paid either, which I do not begrudge.

AtHomeGym
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Mil Retirement Benefits

I no longer know about mil retirement benefits alone, as I surrendered Mil retirement pay in order to combine with my 21 yrs of Civil Service. I get taxed by both State & Fed on all. The only true state benefit I get is no tag fee or Ad Valorem on ONE vehicle with a Purple Heart tag.

Courthouserules
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GYM: you brought it up?

Your statement is not clear.
With 21 years in the military you would have a partial pension (of your salary)coming to you by law.
Are you saying you can't get a Civil Service pension and a military pension?
Or, are you saying that if you combine them you can get a 30 year pension, or more?
Also, aren't you entitled to military health care in some way?
Italians get full pension at 50-55. How about that? They don't even have to be soldiers, work for the civil service or be military or work for airlines or DuPont.

AtHomeGym
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Court & Pension

Yes, you can qualify and receive both Mil & Civil Svc pensions at the same time. However, if you purchase back your Mil time (cost me 29K), then you use total time served to qualify for max civil svc pension. For me, that meant $16K more yearly than the two separate pensions. I received the max (80% of high 3 civil svc yrs based on 42 yrs of svc. I have never used what was supposed to be life-time military med care. As a Civ Svc employee, I was a Fed Employee Health Benefits Program participant (like our Congresspeople) and carried it into retirement, with about 66% of the annual premium (they say it's 70%) paid by the Feds--simply one of the benefits of the retirement system I worked under. But all of that required a number of personal decisions on my part and I am satisfied that most (if not all) have turned out well. I don't know in what context the Mayor raised the Mil benefit issue and since I don't live there, the city's budget problems don't concern me, but like Eric Imker, I will rise up and defend what I have earned through yrs of work and, in many cases, personal sacrifice and discomfort--all my choice and no complaints.

Courthouserules
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GYM" pensions

You didn't mention Social Security or Medicare. Or FERS. Or Govt portion of 401-k!
Maybe you can now get SS at another job?
I needed no justification for your very good pensions---more than most citizens make while working all of their life.
My only point was that some people in your pension category fight tooth and nail against decent pensions of city employees and others that are paid mostly by taxes.
I know that many justify their very good tax paid pensions due to the tremendous "sacrifices" they made, as if only people who get good pensions are the only ones who sacrifice. That is certainly not true.
Ever drove a truck or run a small business of your own where you never make much money and pay for ALL pensions and health insurance!
I'll never believe those people don't deserve better. In fact they are the backbone, non-tax-paid citizens of our economy.
Therefore I can't understand why some want to stop everyone's pension paid by taxes except their own! "Sacrifices" don't quite cut it! There are tough sacrifices in every career.
All this doesn't mean that we don't lay-off people when we can't pay them. We must. They can find another job-doesn't make any sense to keep people we can't pay and in many cases don't need.

AtHomeGym
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CHR & Pension

I paid into Soc Security for 21 yrs. I do draw Soc Sec at a reduced rate because of the Fed pension. Medicare? Yep, have Part A (Hospitalization) as first payer, my FEHB insurance takes care of Dr & Prescription Drugs, plus I pay extra for a Fed program covering Vision & Dental Care. FERS is the retirement program that came to be in 1984--I was covered under the old plan--Civil Service Retirement System. But yes, I participated in the "401K" (really TSP) and next yr will have to begin withdrawing from it due to an age-based rqmt. I don't have any problem with any employee working for any employer, be it Govt at any level or private, who meets all the rqmts of any pension plan offered by the employer. I don't see the connection between Council Members with personal pensions that were earned making recommendations to change city pension plans. Would seem to me that any and all ideas would be welcomed. I think this is where the Mayor perhaps erred and King & Imker are right.

Courthouserules
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GYM

I suppose "making decisions" is worth something. Some (most) don't have that choice.
I doubt anyone cares how much anyone collects for a pension no matter how many sources, but my point was simply that if you do get most of your pension from taxpayers, then I would think you would find it difficult to want to take anyone's away from them!

My guess is that you draw about $75-80,000 a year in tax paid pensions--maybe more since I don't know about the Federal contribution to your TCP which would be from taxes. (not your contribution).
As I see it you get four sources of tax paid pensions"

Civil Service/Military combined
Social Security
Health Insurance contributions
Gov't portion of TCP (401k)
Congratulations!

Help what is left of our city folks here someday collect their maybe $25,000 after working pretty cheaply (except for executives).

We just don't want to have more head counts there than we can pay for with taxes.

AtHomeGym
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CHR & Pension

You're fairly close and there was no Govt contribution to the TSP--it's only my contributions (was limited to no more than 5% of salary yearly) and whatever dividends/interest was earned dependent on how I invested the funds. Now there IS some matching under FERS that did not apply to me. Sorry, but if I was a City Council member and wanted to explore ways to reduce city expenditures, my personal pension and its source would not enter into my decision process--simply not related.

NUK_1
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Agree with AHG, King, Imker on pensions

Judging by Haddix's blathering yesterday, you would have thought the proposal was to de-fund everyone's existing pensions and abolish them. I didn't see that, nor do I see any connection about how someone who is receiving a pension cannot make suggestions on others under their management who are still earning one. Good grief!

I did LOVE Haddix getting all hissy over Imker posting here about this. Haddix spent the last two years here constantly calling out the other PTC councilmembers over and over, but now he's getting a taste of just how that is. Love it! Imker has taken over the role played in the recent past by Haddix.

Mike King
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NUK1

Our mayor's style closely resembles that of Steve Brown when things do not go his way. He obviously has thin skin to match his insecurity.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: AtHomeGym

That is the right thing to do, meaning maximize the benefits.

Please read my response to Mike King. That makes the point I was making clear.

Mike King
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Mr Mayor

All my benefits from military service are taxed with the exception of the specialty tags I run on my personal auto. As a multiple Purple Heart recipient, I resent your insult. That will haunt you yet.

SPLOST, it is not on the ballot this year and no other Fayette County official, other than you, brings it up. Maybe you can get it in, but for my money, its still HELL NO!

Care to discuss the new Harley lease? Or was that donated?

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Mike

Mike, you know I respect your service and do not resent your pension. The problem is you resent others who earn their pay and pensions. You earned yours but they didn't earn theirs?

So, those who served but don't have purple hearts are okay to tax and cut?

I am trying to make a point here you are missing. That being you defend your money, as you should, but want to take it away from others. You see my just asking that question as an insult, but reject it is an insult to others?

Also the point you keep making statements like you know what is going on, in fact, within the government. Yet so many of your statements are erroneous. As with the new Harley lease. The lease was canceled but we still have another year, I believe it is, on the first one.

Out or respect I have multiple times said we need to sit down and talk to get the facts straight. You have not done that.

Be fair and know the facts. That is all I have ever asked of you.

Mike King
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Haddix

"Maybe we could make some money by taxing your military retirement benefits?" Don Haddix, 7-17-10

I resent no one in or out of government, local through national. That is YOUR opinion! Or could it be that serves as fact since it comes from you?

I will not dignify your second paragraph with a response as you're obviously under an influence.

A second Harley? How many does Barney get, and does it have a sidecar for Andy?

What I detest is government living far beyond its means and politicians making cavalier statements regarding sliding into bankruptcy as you did in an earlier post. Show me you're serious about settling the debt.

Perhaps you are a bit under an influence (tipsy). Good night.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Tipsy

I don't drink and you know it.

Yes, living beyond ones means is a detestable thing. But it cannot be corrected overnight. Nor can it be corrected on the backs of those who didn't create it, worker or taxpayer.

Indeed I made that statement to illustrate the point that when the focus of such an issue is reversed the attitude can be radically different in response.

Good night.

PTC Observer
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Mike King - Haddix

Mr. King, Mr. Haddix is transfixed on SPLOST, I am not certain why. We live in PTC, we will pay for our services. We don't need the rest of the county paying for them.

If Haddix pushes for another SPLOST on the ballot, I will be right out there with you Mr. King getting Haddix un-elected. It makes my blood boil.

Mr. Haddix, tell us how much you want in property tax, keep government spending under control, and tell us what the priorities are in the budget.

That's pretty simple isn't it?

Thank you for your service Mr. King, I knew there was something I liked about you.

Ninja Guy
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A Few Simple Questions for the Mayor

Mr. Mayor,

A few simple questions:

1) What is wrong with PTC Observer's statement 'Mr. Haddix, tell us how much you want in property tax, keep government spending under control, and tell us what the priorities are in the budget.'

Please tell us why this is not feasible and why a property tax-based model is not a good approach, as you have said in the past.

2) What is your personal relationship with the owner of Low Temp?

3) Why do you think annexation of the proposed site for Low Temp is the best use for that property?

4) Do you already have a hand-picked person to head up DAPC, or will the position be openly advertised?

Many thanks,

Spyglass
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Low Temp will be a credit to PTC

You can count on that. I've known that Family for over 40 years myself. I'm not sure why anyone would even have a question about why they shouldn't be here, or that parcel in PTC. But hey, some folks are impossible to please.

Ninja Guy
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Spyglass Comment on Low Temp

Not all of us have the benefit of knowing the Low Temp family for 40 years, so the only way to find out about the deal is to ask questions. Plus, it seems like an odd place to locate a manufacturing facility, given that PTC has an industrial park zoned especially for that. That said, I now understand that there are other strategic issues involved with preventing over-development of retail in that area. All in all, Low Temp seems to be a net positive for PTC at this point, depending on who eats the costs for sewer extension, and the landscaping buffer design around the facility.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Questions

Answers:
1. My preference is zero tax increase but in this economy trying to recover from the situation we are in .5. Keeping spending under control is imperative but after years of policies and spending being put into place it isn't going to happen in a few months. Budget priorities are Safety first, then Community Development and Code Enforcement, Public Works and finally Rec.

Property Tax isn't the best because it puts all the burden on those who own property and the higher the rate the harder it is to attract jobs here.

2. I have no personal relationship with the family that owns Low Temp.

3. Annexing gives us another Industry for our Tax Digest, squares out and completes our southern border on that corner, stops any very unwanted retail development from being built, has a low traffic demand and it is good company that is very into community support.

4. No, I don't have a hand picked person and DAPC, not Staff or Council, hires their Director.

borntorun
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Haddix: DAPC Hire - Really??

Well, yes and no...seems like I remember reading there was a city council liasion to DAPC and I believe that person was you. Is that still correct? If so, how can you say that you or council would not be involved with the hiring of the DAPC staff person? Most certainly you would as would Doug Sturbaum since you both have pushed this issue. No reasonable person would think DAPC would have total autonomy with regard as to who is hired. After all, it is City monies, right? So yes DAPC would hire the Director but only with the blessing of you and Council.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: DAPC Hire

You really need to study up on Authorities if you believe all you just said. Just look at the Planning Commission and how they often vote 180 to what Council votes.

Every authority, committee, etc has a liaison. But only the CVB has someone from Council with voting rights in PTC.

I sit on the Board of Health and vote there, but that is a County entity, not a PTC one.

borntorun
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Haddix: DAPC Hire Part II

Go back and re-read my post. I didn't say a word about you VOTING for the DAPC Director. I said it was unrealistic to think that you and Sturbaum would not be INVOLVED with who is selected for that position. Your Planning Commission analogy is not applicable either. Planning meets prior to Council and makes a recommendation on planning issues which Council can either agree with or not. In this case, DAPC will have the final say-so on this position without Council vote. So don't tell me whoever is selected will not have to be "blessed" by you and Sturbaum. It's called POLITICS, Don and you know politics will play heavily in that decision. To think otherwise is stupid and naive. For someone who preaches transparency and open government, your veil is showing.

Courthouserules
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born

Ah now, you aren't supposed to bring up such secret understandings---just how can they operate without influence?
Heck. I've never figured out who the Chief of police and Fire Chief can be fired by! Much less a Mayor or Councilperson! Judges resign of course when someone does finally raise hell.
Only corporations are NOT democracies----not city hall! They consult and sometimes vote on every move---back protection you know?
How do you get a majority to do anything in such circumstances---it is pre-arranged by negotiation!
You don't think Petraeus fired McChrystal do you? The Army Chief of Staff? Both his boss---not even the Chairman of the Joint staff!
They all secretly agreed and Obama agreed to do the dirty work---which he could have done alone, but that would have been interference with the military.

AtHomeGym
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CHR & McChrystal

Wrong! Army Chief of Staff was NOT McChrystal's boss. His chain of command ran thru the Joint system--and there is no such thing as the "Chairman of the Joint Staff"---you might want to try "Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff". And BTW, there is considerable speculation that McChrystal arranged all that on purpose, so as to plant a seed of POTUS incompetence. And so he had decided to retire anyway but a normal "walkaway" would have been forgotten in a week--doing it the way he did means that the seed can't be "unplanted".

Courthouserules
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GYM

This argument you make is exactly what I was saying. It is theory and wild guessing!
That is odd about McChrystal's boss. I think General Marshall was Ike's boss--he was Chief of Staff of the Army.
If you are talking about the nine area commanders (may be 10 now) (CENTCOM, etc.) or whatever they are called, who are you saying bosses them? Obama? No way, except by exception as required.
That system has proved terrible anyway. (CENTCOM,etc.)
Tell me, who do you think Colin Powell worked for directly when he was made a four star at Forces Command in Atlanta? Congress? Secretary of the Army, maybe? How about Secretary of Defense? How about Homeland Security Secretary? Barney Frank, maybe?
Who do you think MacArthur worked for? That's right, nobody!
If you happen to be talking about the PMBC Battlefield support as the boss it is not. It is more of a logistical command, not a firing one!
I realize that senior on ground battlefield commanders can go as far as they dare on their own but they can all get a phone call to cease and desist from someone---it is notthe President unless he chooses to do so.
Everything is now so computer-organized that a field commander can't move without his "Windows" readiness however.
We fight with small units where there is no "extra" to cover unforseen circumstances--that reduces the field commander's ability consideribly.
They operate like a committee, unfortunately.

AtHomeGym
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Military Bosses

Because FORSCOM at that time was a Major Army Command, Powell's bosses were Army Chief of Staff/Sec Army. The Unified CINCS answer initially to CJCS/SecDef. I think that's correct still.

Citizen Bob
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AtHomeGym

Actually, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (GEN Powell during the 1st Gulf War) is not in any chain of command; per the Goldwater-Nichols Act, he is the senior US military officer but, serves strictly in an advisory capacity to the SecDef and the President.

Our history gave rise to the notion that no single military officer shall have command authority over all the forces (as the kings did); it shall lie exclusively with the elected Commander in Chief (Prez) and his SecDef appointee (as approved by the senate).

Of course, the CINCs and Service Chiefs coordinate constantly with the Chairman, who has the immediate ear of the SecDef & Prez. The Chairman's opinions are always considered in major decisions, startegies, and budgets.

Courthouserules
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BOB: chains of command

It seems that everyone who endeavors to clear all this up just confuses it further.
"Coordinate constantly, immediate ear, Chairman's opinions," sound loosey-goosey in actual action cases.

Except in a few insifnificant cases of goofs, (Abu'Ghraib Brig. General) 3 and 4 star officers are disciplined at the recommendation of the service chiefs. However it is covered over through the Chiefs of Staff or CNO through the Joint Chiefs and Secretary of Defense and the President is allowed to swallow the blame or credit if there is any.
It is the Military way. General McChrystal for instance. It is a committee thing.
Ever see a tree swing designed by a committee?

Courthouserules
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GYM

Sorry, I added some to my comment earlier.
Didn't I say that same thing as your answer?
I don't think that the Army Chief of Staff on the Joint Chiefs of Staff sits there mum, do you? However I wonder who fired General Shinsecki?
(I mean he resigned---sure he did)

If you are wondering, yes, I did pull a hitch during 1951-1954 and study government and wars extensively. Both hard to explain as civil.

PTC Observer
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And SPLOST Mr. Haddix?

If you lead the way on putting yet another SPLOST on the ballot, the people will rise up and defeat you. For this principle, I will personally put a lot more money into this effort than I will ever pay in SPLOST tax.

We are citizens of PTC we should pay for our own things and not expect those that don't live here to pay for them.

You simply have to get off the "diffused cost model" of socialist politicians, get our house in order and set priorities. Then tell the PTC citizens what you need in property tax to cover it. If you don't want to live here because of high property tax then move.

Your priorities sound good to me but I don't know what you mean by "community development". If you mean DAPC, I am not sure what this entity can do to "attract business". Do you mean that they work with city government to design subsidies to attract potential businesses? What else can they do to attract business? Are they some sort of PR group? If so, why don’t we outsource this?

Ninja Guy
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Yes, What About DAPC?

PTC Observer, I too am curious about what DAPC will actually do. Tax breaks, other subsidies, PR, what exactly? And what is the breakdown of uses the proposed 150K, which I think is the Mayor's figure. Can you explain to us how you arrived at that figure, and how it will be allocated. Also, can you give us the top 5 goals/priorities of the expanded DAPC in years 1-5? So far, I don't think we have seen anything on that. You seem to be for government transparency, so I think you would want to be out in front on this.

Courthouserules
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Ninja: DAPTC

It should be obvious that no city function can be of much benefit with a $150,000 budget. That is not enough to cover a professional with a proven background of obtaining more tax base!
It simply is to hire more clerks with Little knowledge of the function in order to keep up morale and keep them happy! It is also a way to keep a dying enterprise alive!

Ninja Guy
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Courthouserules: More on DAPC

Yes, it is curious. I hope the mayor posts here how the funds are to be used. If it is just for more clerks as you suspect, then it is a waste of money. If it is to hire a true tree-shaker, I would be inclined to give the mayor the benefit of the doubt at this point, though I am still not sold on the expanding tax digest revenue model.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: More

Part of the job, along with the volunteers still working, is seeking R&D companies, higher education, professional offices, medical companies, IT companies, government offices, technical support centers, and other high end professionals and companies not dependent upon major highways to transport their products.

There is also redevelopment of some housing and other areas of the city badly in need.

A development authority can actually take on problem properties, redevelop them and sell them for profit for the city. They can own income properties, not meaning in competition with the private sector, and receive income.

In other words they seek jobs to beef up our tax base, redevelop problem properties, work on retaining our existing base and in general promote economic opportunities here. That not only seeks new jobs but retains existing jobs and creates work for real estate, designers, landscapers etc already in business here.

It covers a broad range that private sector does not do and government cannot do.

So it not only expands the tax base but preserves and enhances the existing tax base.

You simply cannot find a successful city that does not have an active and supported Development Authority.

Being stagnant will lead to job losses.

Ninja Guy
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Haddix: More on More

Mr. Mayor, thanks for the info as always. All sounds good, but what is the oversight of the DAPC? It will operate with city funds but have its own head, it seems. How will it get funds to acquire properties for redevelopment? Issue city-backed bonds? Based on your most recent post, it seems the bulk of the requested 150k will go to hire a DAPC director, or am I wrong here? Also, where can I find more info on the existing DAPC, such as who serves on it and the appointment process? Appointed by the Council, I would assume? Is that public information? You mentioned successful DAs in other cities. Are you using one of those as a model for PTC? If so, can you direct us to the website so we can get a clearer picture of what you envisage for PTC?
Thanks!

Don Haddix
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Haddix: More Again

The checks and balances are who we as Council appoint to the Authority and annual funding.

No, a development authority cannot bind a city to its debt. It is an independent corporation. What Logsdon and that majority did was fancy maneuvering to escape the letter of the law, which said the city could not assume the debt directly. It was a debt we really should not be paying.

No, the bulk of the money will go to economic efforts, not pay. The volunteers will still be very active. They just need the day to day support and efforts of a Staff person.

It is public record how every commission, authority, committee and so on are appointed and who appointed them.

No, I am not using any one city. But the success stories, every economic development class for cities and so on always have a development authority involved. The site is down right now but go to DCA and they have a full list of every DA in the State.

The were designed to development an economy base. That is their sole purpose for existence.

Ninja Guy
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Haddix: Thanks for Reply Plus More on Photocircuits

I see. Thanks for the info as always.

Now, on to Photocircuits. Just a quick google search shows that the assets of what was once Photocircuits are owned by GCP LLC, which is the land-owning affiliate of San Bernardino, Calif.-based American Pacific Financial Corp., a private equity firm. It also seems that there is/was some clean-up project involving Photocircuits old facility site in Glen Cove, New York, at the behest of the state of New York's environmental department. I understand that all of this fell into your lap upon assuming the mayorship, but why did the previous administrations, Brown and Logsdon, I would assume, not address this issue straight on? Has anyone in this PTC administration or previous ones been in touch with the city of Glen Cove to see what they are doing? Also, is Georgia's environmental department involved with the PTC site. How about the EPA? Seems to be some legitimate concerns about pollutants in this case.

borntorun
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Haddix: Avoiding My Question

So, I can only assume your non-answer to my second post is tantamount to agreeing with what I said. You and Sturbaum will be deciding who the DAPC hire will be. Just as I thought. All this talk about DAPC being an independant board is just a bunch of hooey. They can only do what you and Sturbaum allow even if "behind the scenes". What a phony.

Ninja Guy
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Haddix: Questions Answered

Mr. Mayor,
Thanks for your quick and straight-forward reply. You are the only pol in PTC that will take on any question and answer it squarely and to the best of your ability/knowledge in an open forum such as these blogs. Who knows, in the end, you might even win me over to supporting an expanded budget for DAPC. As the first step, condemn the old Photo Circuits building and make the company, if it still exists, clean up the site as a health hazard so DAPC can get it in the hands of a firm that will make good use of it. That would be worth a 150 grand.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Photocircuits

Then support DAPC because that has been a goal since 2008 for them and me.

We are trying to move forward on a clean up now. Proper funding would be a massive help in the effort.

No, the building is not owned by the same company any longer. It is in a holding company.

Courthouserules
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Mayor- Photocircuits

Has an evaluation ever been made as to how bad the contamination is? Is it possibly into ground water. Did anyone ask the company to clean it up when they closed? Why not?
Could the torn down structure be considered hazardous waste?
Is there a reason this hasn't been done and why aren't we interested in just how bad it is?
Hey, just ask anyone who worked there or is familiar with the place.
Why do we always try to hide our "Love Canals?" Is it to protect those responsible or is it to protect the city?

Courthouserules
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No answer to 7/18/10 above

Does anyone in this administration in PTC even know who owns these buildings?
Isn't there a law about empty distresed buildings sitting empty?

borntorun
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Photocircuits

That is exactly why nothing has ever been done with the Photocircuits site. If testing was done and the site was shown to be a toxic waste site (and I suspect it is way worse than we can imagine), the lawyers around these parts would be RICH with all the lawsuits flying off the shelf. Best to not turn over that rock.

MajorMike
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Mayor Haddix

Would not the current owner, the holding company, be entirely responsible for the cleanup of any environmental contamination of the property? Also, have we determined yet if said contamination could be or is spreading to adjacent property or contaminating groundwater? Many/most times property cleanup costs, residential or commercial, are difficult to collect after the fact so why give them that advantage. Please consider that a property owner may be more amenable to a enviormental cleanup that is an alternative to condemnation proceedings. I would bet that they knew the condition of the property before they acquired it.

Courthouserules
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Empty Photo-Circuits Building

No one wants anything to do with those buildings. They won't be condemned by the city or anyone else! They are so contaminated by heavy metals and Chlorine, etc., which was allowed, that to open it up for anything would pose many problems and responsibilities.
It will take about 500 years to rust down and 10,000 for the contamination to equalize!

Ninja Guy
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Photocircuits: What about the EPA?

What about getting the EPA involved? If it is true about the heavy metals and chlorine, certainly there must be an immediate health hazard there?

Courthouserules
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Mayor and Mike

Mike, I told you to be careful about messing with "pensions!" Many don't see any difference in one pension and another, especially if it effects them! And especially if their working benefits are low.
Mayor, NOT HIRING people extra is NOT a savings. Atlanta always has hundreds that they "haven't hired." They budget them then cut the budget the amount they haven't hired which makes naive people happy!

Without getting into detail about the rest of the budget, all that needs to be said is that council is proposing more expenditures than you will surely take in! Additionally it will burden future years with nearly an impossible way out.
What were the big bumps (in expenses) in certain costs, beyond control?
I can guess but rather you would say!

By the way, how much could we save if we contracted public protection?

Mike King
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Let Me get This Straight...

The Mayor plus one wants only to raise taxes by .5 mils and add another $115K to the city's budget, while two Councilpersons want a 1.25 mil increase with no additional funding, and the remaining Councilperson saying no, period. Concensus at its finest. If Steve Brown were still mayor, the rants and tantrums would go unchecked.

Regarding the employee double retirement issue, simply eliminate the costlier of the two and stop studying the damn thing!

As far as the issue of goals, metrics or targets for the proposed new hire, do you really believe city employees use these measures or actually have them in place? No need for chiding because they can be produced, but alas, another two weeks will have passed with no progress made.

Council you have an enormous debt staring you in the face with the likely prospect of a further decline in revenue. You will not fix the problem simply by raising taxes.

Courthouserules
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MIKE

Unlike full-blooded "conservatives," I am usually with you on most things, but not all.

I see the city squabble about the budget as a cover-up. There are four people who want a tax increase and of course they will vote it---it is just a matter of the exact method and amount for doing it.

The fifth person didn't even vote and to me that means he didn't vote against it either. They all have decided that they can't gamble with poor morale by a layoff. Maybe next year it will be so bad (likely) that they won't get as much static about it.

Yes if poor old Steve were there they would already have the tar hot and the feathers being gathered.

Now, you know that eliminating the less costly retirement plan means eliminating the Fixed one, leaving only the 401-K!
Low paid people put very little into such a plan, they don't have it to put in. Anyway just how safe will 401-ks be for the next umpteen years? They sure were pushed by Bush's crew and look what would have happened if he had gotten his way on that one? They lost 30-40%. I wouldn't be so favorable about eliminating all pensions but one if I were particularly some here! It is like SS, if not mandatory it doesn't happen for the masses. They don't trust investments. Good they haven't recently!

No new industry will likely stop here unless they get tax free like the Chinese for years...that won't help either.
Anyway we don't have an abundance of cheap labor, do we?
Fairburn does, however.

Since we can't miraculously set up manufacturing again in this country for many years. We can't put 15,000,000 (more yet to come) in a short period either. (Wall Street is hiring again). Can't be solved with taxes---who is going to be able to pay them? (you said that).

We are going to suffer as a whole (not you or I) for a long time due to where we were allowed to stretch credit. Also the Fake stuff AIG and Goldman-Sachs did (a trillion or more).

Mike King
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Court$

I am happy to hear that you do not always agree with me, but I cannot speak for all, but my 401K has recovered its losses. Your swipe against Bush was unnecessary since those contributions were to be voluntary. By the way, do you really believe Social Security will remain constant for another 20 years?

Courthouserules
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MIKE

Well Mike you must have lost any earnings you could have had if you are only even! Better cash them in is my advice. But annuities or bonds.

Yeah the voluntary thing was my point!
The average wage in the USA is about 35,000 dollars. After living expenses and kids what is left for 401K. They won't do it---can't do it.
At least they can eat on SS. Only cost them 7% which most get far more than they put in back eventually. Thsy wouldn't have invested it and left it anyway.
We have to think of the great unwashed.

Mike, there will always be a government pension, mandatory, of some kind.
We don't want poor houses again.

I realize many do not want to pay their 7%. That is why it has to be mandatory. Just like health insurance will be.
That way maybe we can keep those dudes from rising up sometime and chopping off our heads as they did Marie Antionette! Let them eat cake, she said!

PapaJ
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Property Tax

No one likes a Tax Increase, but for years PTC has been funding projects with funds and no real way to pay for it. A tax increase is necessary and if you look at the 5 year picture, the 1.25 mill increase now costs a homeowner less in 5 years than does a .5 mill increase based on the numbers presented. That is because the following 4 years will require a much higher increase in each new year than the 1.25 mill will in order to balance the budget and keep a 20% reserve.
Did anyone see the announcement that Fairburn has secured Clorox's new distribution center and before tht Smucker's. Maybe if we had a better funded and focused development authority, PTC could have made those announcements. While there has been some development activity in PTC, we need more. There are companies spending money and if we use the excuse that unemployment is high and the economy is soft, we will keep watching other areas make announcements and collect the revenue. Fund the Development Authority. It is our only real chance of getting a revenue increase so that property taxes aren't the main source of the shortfall.
I do agree with Eric on the double retirement expenditure, but I believe the one to eliminate is the Pension Fund not the 401K. Very few companies today have 2 company funded retirement plans and a 401K allows the employee to contribute and control his own plan.
Just my 2 cents worth.

intheknow
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Pensions

So many of you posters don’t get it, it’s not “two pensions” but rather a couple of half pensions, all right a two-third and a one-third pension. This was established several years ago as a way to save the city money, as if employees didn’t opt to contribute to the 457/401 plan, the city didn’t have to contribute to that one. There recently was an entire evening workshop dedicated to this topic, and the results; Peachtree City spends less on employee pensions than just about any other community around, with this system. In fact, one of the closing comments by one of the council-members at that Retirement Workshop stated something to the effect of “if not for the current budget issues, we would have to look at improving the pensions offered”, based on the information presented.
There is the defined benefit plan and the 401K, with the 401 being contributed at 50% by the city up to 4% of the employees’ contribution. So if an employee contributes 4% of his salary, the city contributes 2%, it doesn’t increase beyond the 2% if the employee contributes more.
One of you experts in the last couple of days commented on a former Peachtree City employee whom had left to work for Fairburn. Many good PTC employees went to Fairburn as they ramped up their city government several years ago and enticed good employees from area governments to come there and work, with offers of better pay and benefits. I happen to know that the City of Fairburn uses a 401K-retirement system with Unlimited match, i.e. if an employee contributes 10%, the city matches the 10%, or 15% they match 15%, and so on. This is only one example of some of the benefits at another area municipalities used to entice good people, there are many more like it.
Many employees stay at Peachtree City as it’s a nice place to work, but reduce the pay from what it is now or cut the benefits more and the city will ultimately pay, once all the good employees leave. I know there are 30 people waiting to fill my shoes, as I’ve been told, but see what that will get you when you dial 911, and its your emergency. I’m confidant that if you find these 30 people they wouldn’t have a fraction of the years of experience, the numerous qualifications and the thousands of hours of training (much invested by the city) that the people I work with have.

Courthouserules
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intheknow: pensions

Yeah, they know it is only one pension! You don't get it!!!

If they choose the 401k one, most police officers at their pay grade won't be able to afford to participate, or won't participate. Hence----cheaper on the city, they don't contribute if officer doesn't!
NThey ARE NOT particularly worried whether there is a pension after 20-30 years!
Shouldn't get one anyway until at least 60, or disabled on duty.
Can you get cops if little pension? Sure, many, many like to wear uniform and carry a gun and have authority. Quality? Questionable.

Robert W. Morgan
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Well, duh! The answer is staring you in the face Mr. Haddix

Give Imker his ban on second retirement plans (whatever the heck that is) for staffers and move on with your tax increase and much more importantly the funding of the development authority. I've been saying for years that the city needs to actively recruit industry and business with full-time people and all I get is "it is illegal" starting with Brown and everyone since. Now Ms. Learnard has a plan - so get on with it.

Any staffer who complains about not having a second retirement plan is not fully appreciating the fact that unemployment (which offers no retirement plans) is an option - as 10% of us know.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Retirement Plans and DAPC

We held a Workshop on the Retirement Plan and brought in a Actuary to do the analysis, not Staff.

The two cities, one other and us, that use the combined plans got off cheaper than those who only had one or the other.

The reason being most do not contribute to the 401K side so we do not have to contribute matching funds and on the Defined Benefits side you have to stay here long enough to become vested for it to cost the city a penny. Then when it comes to collecting retirement only the DB side costs the city.

But since we have the dual approach the overall offerings are lower on each on the city side.

Councilwoman Learnard does not have a plan to fund DAPC in any way. We already have a Coordinator, Tony Bernard. She wants to hire another employee for city work. When I stated that she did not dispute it, she defended it, just saying that person can answer the phones for DAPC.

Most assuredly it is illegal for a city worker to exercise the authority and power of a development authority.

Ninja Guy
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Cut Retirement Plans Altogether

Most private companies dropped defined benefit (DB) plans altogether years ago, and now many are suspending 401K matching contributions in the face of the tough economy. I think PTC should consider doing the same. As for DB plans only costing the city upon employee retirement, this is only true if the city is NOT currently funding or is underfunding its future pension liabilities. Several state education departments are facing this same issue now due to not funding/underfunding teacher retirement plans. You have to pay the piper at some point for DB plans, and not funding them now only pushes the financial burden into the future, when current council will be long gone. So, Mr. Mayor, are you saying that PTC has unfunded/underfunded DB pension obligations right now? Could you give us a clearer picture on this, since you brought it up?

Also, do you already have someone in mind for the DAPC position, or will the position be advertised? I might be interested at $150k a year, plus two pension plans I would assume.

Many thanks!

Courthouserules
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Four for more taxes

It seems pretty apparent to me that our property taxes will be raised instead of personnel cuts being made.
It is just a matter of how much the tax raise will be. I suggest that you throw darts at a board with a lot of numbers on it between the two millage rate increases proposed by 4 of the 5!
This prognosticating what it will be is silly in this case.
It will be more.

This on a day when the unemployment numbers came out that about another half million people applied for the first time for compensation. Of course that was looked upon as "good" news since it was slightly less than last month! (nothing was said of all those going off unemployment with no jobs)
They all know now that it will continue on to 15% plus (it will actually be more than that but they count funny). Then it will take years to get back to the under 5% they claimed before the burst.
Just how will PTC continue to raise taxes to support the same or more dollars to run the city or county? Borrow 100 million more or a SPLOST again? Didn't that sink the USA nearly and still might.
How does one go about impeachment of town government? They simply are not doing due diligence!

Courthouserules
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Last point left off:

President Obama asked one of his senior aides recently, when he had a particularly tough day, "why would anyone want to have this job for two terms?"
We Impeached President Clinton for lying about sex, (he won in the Senate) tried to impeach President Nixon, (he resigned) and should have President Bush II. (he lost the party).
President Obama has it coming, I guess.
No wonder most of the world prefers Kings or Dictators---There is only one "decider," and he can't be touched short of beheading.

PTC Observer
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Courthouserules

If Mr. Obama could rescind the 22nd Amendment he would most certainly do so.

If he doesn’t lose the next Presidential election, we’ll see what he will do.

Ninja Guy
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Joined: 06/26/2010
Long Live Haddix, but Go Imker!

Looks like Mr. Imker holds the cards on this vote. Hang in there Mr. Councilman. Nice to see someone hanging tough and not going along to get along. Haddix might have the best interests of PTC at heart, but as this Ninja Guy has maintained all along, banking on sales tax revenue from more/better business and industry has its own problems. A higher millage rate is more straight forward and offers greater revenue transparency in my view. Upping the budget for DPAC is also problematic. How long before the new head needs an assistant, as was the case with PTC's city manager. Also, if we can dispense with the 'second' pension to city employees, all the better. These city jobs need not offer lifetime employee. There are enough qualified, experienced, and willing people in PTC to handle these jobs for 2, 3 or 5 years as stepping stones to other jobs, or as interim employment while they go return to school at night as part of a career change or similar. Not putting down city employees here, but city jobs, especially in a city the size of PTC, should be designed toward true 'public service' rather than a lifelong career. This eliminates the cost of pensions for taxpayers and offers greater employee turnover and, with this, facilitates the inflow of new ideas in to city services on a regular basis. I may be warming up to May Haddix, but right now, I'm backing Councilman Imker.