Fleisch: ‘I want to continue my good work as mayor’
It is with a sense of gratitude and humility that I filed the paperwork necessary to run for mayor of Peachtree City.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work for the citizens of our city over the past four years. The economic conditions in this country during my term on council have been some of the worst in our history.
My goal from the outset was to help position Peachtree City to be stronger once the economy began to turn around. Tough decisions needed to be made from the very beginning of my term. In order to deal with the city’s looming debt and the economic downturn, we did what was necessary to make the city stronger financially:
• City departments were reorganized
• Efficiencies were found
• The property millage rate was increased
• Debts were refinanced and paid off
These decisions resulted in Peachtree City qualifying for a AAA bond rating three times in the past four years. Our city is one of three cities in the state to have a AAA rating during one of the most difficult economic climates that the country has ever seen.
After four years of hard work and tough decisions, our finances are strong. As a result of prudent planning, this year our bond millage rate will be lowered.
There are a number of initiatives that I spearheaded that I believe will benefit the city for years to come.
The city has 416 acres of recreational parks and facilities. The maintenance of those parks and facilities was neglected for years. Previous city councils fell short of their responsibility to maintain those facilities. As a result, a great amount of time and money has been spent over the past two years in order to repair them.
Though a lot of progress has been made, we are still dealing with many maintenance issues that should have been fixed long ago. The outright degradation of the Braelinn sports fields was a study in neglect by previous city councils. The grass on the baseball fields was patchy at best. The tennis courts became a hazard and were padlocked due to safety concerns.
We have other beautiful facilities in the city that were built with a bond referendum in the 1990s that were neglected and rundown. Prior to my term on council, there was no plan in place for routine maintenance on our recreational amenities.
Currently, the Recreation and Public Works departments are working on schedules for maintenance and capital improvements for all of the structures throughout the city. It is my belief that if we return to the failed policies of the past councils, our city’s facilities will again return to their previous rundown state; causing even greater losses in our property values.
The emphasis over the past two years on restoring our facilities was a direct result of the pursuit of a partnership with Peachtree City and our hotels and motels to bring quality tournaments and events to the city.
Other cities in Georgia have realized the potential opportunity for tournament revenue as well. One example: Bainbridge, Ga. Bainbridge actually took out a bond to build a tournament facility to host only tournaments. They have chosen that to be the mission of their facility and the citizens of Bainbridge are paying for the bond.
Here in Peachtree City, we are very fortunate to already have the facilities in place. All we will have to do is to strike a balance, where we know that these are recreation fields but at the same time coexist with our need to promote economic development.
This is a business opportunity for the citizens of Peachtree City that is literally in our own backyard.
Sadly, the condition of our fields and other facilities was so poor that the pursuit of this partnership was delayed until major work was done by the city. The partnership came to fruition this year when the state legislature passed an increase in the hotel-motel tax. Patrons of the hotels in our community, NOT the citizens of PTC will be paying this tax.
The projection for fiscal year 2014 is $1.1 million. The city’s general fund and the Convention Visitors Bureau each receive 50 percent of that figure. It is mandated by state law that a significant portion of the money deposited into the general fund go towards maintaining and preserving Peachtree City’s facilities.
Already this partnership is bearing fruit: the announcement of the Diva Marathon coming to Peachtree City is a direct result of this new emphasis upon using our facilities to bring in quality events. The potential economic impact for the Diva Marathon is in the millions of dollars for a single weekend.
This summer, there were many tournaments at the Baseball and Soccer Complex. The combined economic impact of these tournaments was over a million dollars. The budget for recreation in 2014 is $2.4 million with projected revenues of $660,000.
By having this alternate use for our recreational facilities we are helping to provide revenue for our hotels and restaurants, which in turn, benefits the balance in our general fund for maintenance. We are essentially closing the long existing gap between revenues and expenses by bringing in these sports tourism events.
Over the past four years my goal has been to protect “the bubble.” At a time when we have seen property values across the metro region lose considerable ground, Peachtree City’s have held rather steady due to the renewed emphasis on maintaining the city’s infrastructure.
I would like the opportunity to continue the good work that I have done over the past four years into the next four as mayor of the city of Peachtree City.
Candidate for Mayor
Peachtree City, Ga.
[Editor’s note: This announcement falls within the May 21 political season rules for letters to the editor: “The exception is the FIRST official announcement this calendar year by any candidate that the candidate is running for a particular post. If the person has previously had a letter published that indicated such candidacy, no further candidacy announcements will be printed free.” Ms. Fleisch did announce her candidacy in a letter to the editor, but it was printed Dec. 19, 2012, the previous calendar year. As Fayetteville author Ferrol Sams wrote of his father’s pronouncement on the young Sambo in “Run With The Horsemen”: “I just can’t think of enough things to tell him not to do.”]