Mayor Haddix: Committee will study tax rate, service priorities
The special called council meeting to set the millage rate was continued. The reason was to try to find more budget cuts and for council members Dienhart and Imker to see if they can create a joint proposal.
While unsure of the total amount Councilman Dienhart is trying to achieve, Councilman Imker has stated $3 million.
To use the descriptive from my budget letter, there are now so many budget Band-Aids being proposed and pursued, it looks like a mummy. It is like a boat that is falling apart being kept together with duct tape.
When I, again, said we needed to stop taking money out only to put it back during the fiscal year and stop ultimately paying for everything with tax increases was not well received.
The annually stated requirement for a needs assessment followed by providing services and budgets in accordance with its findings was once again rejected by council members Fleisch and Imker, who actually tried to claim this was the first they heard of it, which is totally false.
In thinking about how to proceed, creating a special committee was the strongest avenue available.
The surveys we used to do were discontinued after 2010, when 86.2 percent said no more tax increases.
That was followed, also in 2010, by a 1.25 mill tax increase under the guise the survey showed no service cuts were wanted.
The discussion at the meeting made it clear it was time to act. There needs to be a clarity of message from the taxpayers on what they want, do not want, and how much tax they will pay.
A statement of willingness to continue tax increases to pay for everything or a statement of the limit of taxes they can afford to pay for certain priorities. The rest has to be cut.
Per the City Charter, the mayor has the sole power to create a committee not already created by the state. It mandates mayoral membership on that committee. I am exercising that authority to create a Needs Assessment Committee.
The committee members will be selected by me and will not contain any city employee or elected official other than myself. Council will have no authority over this committee.
My role will be to be a neutral chair and ensuring needed information is obtained from staff.
The goal of the committee is to ascertain what millage rate the property owners are willing to tolerate, priority of services to be provided and where cuts, if any, are desired to occur.
This is the only way we will clearly know what Peachtree City wants, needs and is willing to pay for, be it continuing tax increases or reduction of services.
The committee needs to reflect the across the board opinions of the city, pro and con. It needs to have people who will work to reach out for and gather the opinions of the residents.
I hope you will consider taking part. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write me at 151 Willowbend Road, Peachtree City, 30269.
This will not be an instant process and will not be completed before the 2013 Budget is finalized. But remember, budget adjustments can be made at any time during the fiscal year to meet changing needs.
Don Haddix, mayor
Peachtree City, Ga.