No tax hike for PTC’s $27M budget

Peachtree City residents won’t see their city taxes increase this year.

The city council adopted a $27.4 million budget Thursday along with a millage rate the same as last year: 6.384. That means that a handful of residents who have seen their fair market value decline will actually notice a tax decrease on their property tax bill this year.

The budget is some $238,304 higher than last year, and due to declining property values the city will get by with about $200,000 less in property tax revenue compared to the current year, city officials said.

The lion’s share of city revenues comes from property taxes and sales taxes.

The latest version of the budget features an additional reduction of $100,000 in general fund department expenses, a reduction of the public improvement plan contingency from $35,000 to $15,000 and the reduction of new police vehicle purchases from 10 to nine.

The budget also includes $240,000 for a one-time 2 percent “incentive” bonus for all city employees, who haven’t seen a pay raise in several years due to the weakened economy and tight city budgets.

Councilwoman Kim Learnard said several other factors led to about a $1 million increase in operating funds in this year’s budget, including computer upgrades in the neighborhood of about $400,000, the staff pay incentive, a $100,000 increase in healthcare costs, $70,000 for this year’s city election and another $75,000 increase in the amount budgeted for legal fees.

Also in the budget are three new staff positions including a community services director, an accounting supervisor and a marketing coordinator for the Peachtree City Convention and Visitors Bureau. The latter position will be paid for with funds from the city’s hotel tax money.

A fourth hire would be for the city’s stormwater program and would be paid for with money from that separate fund, officials said.

The budget also factors in the reduction of five positions in the recreation department as well as the reduction of one position in public works.

The city is projecting to end next fiscal year with a $1.37 million surplus that will bring the city’s cash reserves up to the $10 million mark. But the plan is to spend down those reserves over the following four years to a point where the cash reserves will reach about $7 million.

That means in the 2015-2016 budget, the city will have reduced its cash reserves to the minimum level of 20 percent of the city’s annual budget.

The city is projecting to begin this coming fiscal year with cash reserves at the 37 percent level.

Much of the reasoning for spending down the cash reserves has to do with the impending loss of funding from the 2003 countywide transportation sales tax, which means the city will again have to spend an estimated $1.5 million a year on street, road and path maintenance from the general fund.

The city is also expected to see a hit in its local option sales tax revenue due to the results of the latest U.S. Census, since the unincorporated area of the county and its other cities have grown somewhat faster. The local option sales tax is based largely on each jurisdiction’s percentage of the entire county population.
Both of those financial hits are expected to occur in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

Council members had high praise for city staff in developing this year’s budget, and Councilman Eric Imker said he felt it was one of the city’s best-ever budgets.
Imker noted that behind the scenes this year, department directors and chiefs had to explain their budget line item by line item to justify their inclusion in the final budget. Because of that process, Imker said he was confident that the city budget contains no waste and “we are as lean as we can be.”

Imker also suggested, but later withdrew, a proposal to pay out the incentive bonuses to employees in two phases: with half being paid in December and the other half in May. That way, he said, the city could be covered in case revenues decline further than projected, Imker said.

It was noted that splitting up the payments, which would be equal to 2 percent of each employee’s salary, would affect morale.

Imker suggested waiting until November to make a decision on the matter.

citizenal
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Imker - more problem than help

Mr. Imker has made a contribution by being an agitator and stirring things up. Unfortunately he is so incapable of being tactful that he cannot build any consensus. He is a prime example of "throw enough mud and something may stick". This is not the kind of leadership we need. It would be nice to see some leadership from this council that recognized it was their job to live within their budget, like we have to. Tax increases is the way of dolts and cowards. Imker also ran on the 'promise' that he would not vote to raise taxes. When times get better, and they will, then we can restore some spending but right now we have to learn to live within our means. Imker is 'satisfied' we are as lean as can be. Bologna! We can balance our budget. I hope we will elect candidates that know how to lead and will shoulder the tough job of managing to their revenue rather than playing nanny and outlawing gas powered golf carts, leashing our dogs and saving the holy trees (and their resident spirits) in violation of my property rights. If you have a relatively decent choice vote for Imker's replacement!

Mike King
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citizenal

If repairing a flawed budget process and addressing the city's debt while being an 'agitator' gets results, he has my vote and support. If being on the winning side of council voting means he cannot build consensus, he still has my vote.
Perhaps it is you who has such a strong and blind loyalty to a failed mayor that you refuse to accept results. Mr Imker recognizes that more can be cut, but he also recognizes that to do so he cannot do it alone. Hopefully, that will be remedied in the upcoming election.
You still have time to run against him, but that would force you to abandon your cloak of anonymity.

roundabout
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MIKE

What "results" did he get? We spent more!

Yelling. thumping. carrying on, etc., doesn't count.

Nixon did that; Johnson; Reagan; Bush; and they still overspent terribly--they did not veto!

That is a failure.

The Libertarians and the TEAS are doing the same stuff.

It is like standing on a street corner and yelling, "the end is near, the end is near, give me some money~!"
or: "positive, positive, positive, positive....and so forth!"

Citizen_Steve
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Council more problem than help

The city council is a disappointment but on the issues you cited your attack would be more appropriately aimed at two of the other members.

Ask not for "leadership" from your city council lest you want them to make rules to help "show you the way". It is their job to represent our best interests, not to lead us. They've all failed us in that respect and I hope for a full turnover with each election.

Beware of those seeking reelection, their ambition is our liability.

Steve

NUK_1
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Citizen_Steve: Agreed

Sometimes local government/City Councils all the way up to the WH seem to forget the best thing they can do a LOT of the time is simply get out of the way and stop trying to reinvent the wheel.

I can't lay all the blame at politicians on this, though. Some "citizens" demand they "do something" and "create high paying jobs" or just jobs, and that's really not what they were elected to do, despite their stupid sloganeering.

What I didn't expect from this Mayor and some on council is spending a lot of time on issues like:

a) meaningless and dumb surveys. This is a republic. You are elected to lead. If you want to decide issues by polling, we don't need you, we'll just elect a vote counter to tally up the results.

b) Gas golf carts. A solution looking for a problem. There are so few gas golf carts, yet local gov decides it's time to listen to a few whiners who bothered to fill out the stupid survey and it's suddenly a BIG ISSUE. Geez.

c) Mandatory garbage anything. Again, a solution looking for a problem. Sole-sourcing garbage service is simply...garbage.

d) Proposed tree-cutting ordinance. As a lot of senior citizens have said for years to kids, "GET OFF MY LAWN."

e) Handheld signs. Seriously, did this issue need to be considered for as long as it was?

They spent a lot of time considering the above to the point of absurdity, but when it came time to really get down to the nuts-and-bolts or reorganizing city departments and eliminating jobs, they were too cowardly to handle it like adults. In a real hilarious moment, Haddix complained that his censure was brought up the same exact way. The irony is amusing; the stupidity and hypocrisy isn't.

People shouldn't be surprised...they heartily elected Haddix(were you longing for the days of Steve Brown again?) and also Kim Learnard who wrote a scathing letter to the Citizen long before being elected about the virtues of single-payer health insurance and how stupid and immoral anyone else was who disagreed. What did you expect, people? Small, limited government? You elected an activist government and that's what you got.

Citizen_Steve
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Survey

We disagree on my main point: council is elected to represent us, not to lead us. The annual survey of residents is the best form of direction we give to our representatives.

Steve

roundabout
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NUK: you have a few good points!

Except for assisting banks with easy cash, Washington does not and can not create permanent jobs except for those paid by taxes., which does not help the budget.However, our status is so bad now that it again may be necessary for WPA, TVA. etc., to float us over.

Even what few jobs Governor Perry "created" in Texas were tax paid jobs NASA, OIL money from their tax favoritism, and low wage support jobs, they still have about 9% unemployment. I know of no new and innovative jobs created by Texas.

Jobs have to come from Industry who must borrow the money from Banks to create them.

How about the Citizen, who has the power, ask the Fayette located banks just how much money they have loaned since 2008 to local Companies to create middle income jobs in Fayette County?

I know how much money they have made doing the paperwork for bum loans, credit card charges, fees to use our own money, loans to other banks, and on top of that almost free money from the federal government

But We need to know if they are doing the job their charter says they must!

ptcrightnow
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Eric Imker and the budget

Credit should be given to Eric Imker for his hard work and understanding of budgets. He has led city council on required budget cuts and the required tax increase that was needed and enacted last year to put the city in a good place for this coming budget year.

Had we listened to Haddix's proposed tax increase we would be in trouble!

Meanwhile, more cuts are still needed, starting with the elimination of so many vehicles, 188 is crazy. Also, department managers need to be held accountable to staying on or below budget.

Let's hope Imker decides to run for council again!

roundabout
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Then he led poorly...

.....we didn't cut squat from the budget---in fact it is larger!

Greenbelt
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Imker = Truth; Haddix = Deception

ptcrightnow - I couldn't agree more.

Sorry for this next part being done on a Sunday, the Lord's Day, but I have to get it off my chest.

I’ve been watching the news articles and letters between Haddix and Imker’s restraint of responding letters over the last year and finally have to speak up. Especially since Imker is running for reelection and Haddix is not, although you’d think Haddix was running against Imker with nearly every article Haddix writes, every blog. It seems Imker is in every Haddix thought. Imker has really gotten under Haddix’s skin. Haddix has to mention Imker nearly every time he writes. Imker on the other hand has rarely responded, only when obvious misrepresentations so egregious are made does he comment, and usually at the council meetings where Haddix can see him face to face, not hiding behind a keyboard.

Haddix is a small man both intellectually and integrity wise. I’ve never seen a psyche game played so well by anyone against another. Imker – if I ever play you in a game of Texas hold-em or chess, please allow me to lose gracefully.

I am tired of Haddix’s continuous little word games playing with the truth. It’s so obvious this mayor has nothing more on his mind than Imker. Imker thinks this, Imker thinks that Haddix continuously writes, while leaving out the entire truth willfully giving only a one sided description of the facts as they really are. Many times with outright lies. But does Imker respond in kind. Of course not. He sits and watches this mayor self implode. Well Mr. Haddix, instead of saying what Imker thinks, why don’t you say what you think and be totally truthful without the one sided poticial hacking?

How would you have handled this year’s budget had you won the day last year where you said you only supported a ½ mil increase and no future increases? Let me see, ½ mil generates about $500K. So without the extra ¾ mil last year and 1 ¼ mil this year you’d be looking at least a $2M dollar shortfall right now ... not adding over $1M to the reserves. That’s a $3M turnaround you have to solve. What would you have proposed? That’s right, you offered exactly nada this year. Nothing. Nil. Not a single word or chart shared to say exactly what you’d do. Just some nebulous statements like, “…a slow usage of some of the reserves on essential services while not spending more on non essentials or raising taxes beyond a one time .5 is something I supported, along with some non tax remedies.” (from 2/7/11) What the heck does that whole statement mean? Especially, “some non tax remedies”??? Or this gem, ““My plan was .5 the first year with no tax increases following. I was looking elsewhere to resolve budget issues.” (from 1/25/11) Well, what “elsewhere” did you offer? Nothing of course.

Tell us all Mr. Mayor, over the next 5 years and you’re short $15M, what would you do? What would you do? We all get it now. Mr. Haddix is all talk and no action. No ideas. Not willing to put forth his ideas in front of us all for inspection on paper where the details can be carefully looked at. A complete opposite of Imker.

Mr. Mayor, Imker has you so out-classed it’s embarrassing. Haddix is only good at ridiculing others’ ideas. Face it Mr. Haddix, Imker saved your sorry arse on the budget. And you have the nerve to misrepresentation Imker’s proposals when you offered nothing. Give us all a break. Or at least say you’re sorry. Is that in you Mr. Mayor?

Stop with the petty nit picking of a word here, a word there trying to prove your feeble point. We all understand we elected a willfully unprepared mayor; just stop proving the point every time to write or say something negative. Especially stop with the legalizee of which you pretend to have a law degree. You only have a high school education. So please stop it.

One final observation. In your bio on the city’s web site you proudly say you worked “in U.S. Naval intelligence.” Whoopee! But you don’t come right out and say you were in the military. What branch? What rank were you? What years were you in the service? Where was this assignment? Since you only had a high school education you weren’t an officer. Was this your first assignment when you were an airman basic or equivalent in another branch? You certainly weren’t a decision maker although by the way your bio reads it sounds REAL important. Is this just another example of your ego gone amok?

You guessed it. I’m voting for Imker because he is honest with the citizens of Peachtree City. He doesn’t give you only one side of the issue. He’ll be up front and tell it like it really is. No political correctness from Imker. I like that. By the way Mr. Haddix, there really are 50 folks ready to take any city employee’s job. If you can’t handle the truth, step aside for those who can.

Citizen_Steve
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Not lean enough

I wish the Citizen authors would get some perspective.

This story is pitched as if the expanding city budget is inevitable even with a shrinking tax base, and the city has stretched to do us a favor by not increasing our payments. Please spare us. While I agree that the 300 or so city employees do a great job, the fact is that the city needs to be trimmed accordingly. I'm sure 250 or so employees would also do a great job.

Only a handful of property owners in the city have seen their values decline? Maybe according to the Fayette County tax assessor's office, but not according to market reality. Almost everyone should pay less because they actually have less, not because of some gift from the city government.

Steve

cmc865
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Mr. King

You havent a CLUE...of the real facts...you dont know the true picture until you sit in the seats of these people. You sit on your fence post and shout your opinions without even half your facts being correct. You would make a GREAT politician using the numbers you get to say what ever you want. I get tired of your negative rhetoric. For one time in your life say something nice about the city you live in and the employees who make it what it is. TO you and all the others be part of a solution or be quiet and go away. MOVE to the northside if you don't like it here, they would be glad to have you.

Mike King
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cmc865

Obviously, I hit a nerve or you're employed by the city.
Please inform me of the error made in the post to which you commented.

Mike King
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Budget

"Imker noted that behind the scenes this year, department directors and chiefs had to explain their budget line item by line item to justify their inclusion in the final budget. Because of that process, Imker said he was confident that the city budget contains no waste and “we are as lean as we can be.”

With all due respect, a city with less than 300 employees, 188 vehicles, and a liberal policy toward allowing employees to drive city vehicles as their own, I would offer that the term "lean" needs to be redefined.