PTC Council set to vote on budget with tax hike Thursday

City Manager Jim Pennington. File photo.

The Peachtree City Council is slated to adopt a $28.6 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year at its regular meeting Thursday night.

That budget will require a property tax increase — already approved by council — to offset a projected $600,000 dip in tax revenue due to shrinking property reassessments, and the use of $503,000 in cash reserves.

City officials have planned to use the cash reserves this year as part of a long-range plan to stabilize the budget, and also to spend down the cash reserves, which have built up in recent years to be 38 percent of the city’s annual budget. City policy requires those reserves to be at a much lower funding level: 20 percent of the annual budget.

The tax increase will raise the millage rate by .372 for a total rate of 7.148 including the bond millage rate of .422. The millage rate was approved last week on a 3-2 vote with Mayor Don Haddix and Councilman George Dienhart voting against.

Citizens whose homes’ values decreased by the citywide average of 5.13 percent won’t see a net increase in city taxes, but those with homes that didn’t decrease that much, if at all, will see a net tax increase depending on the value of their home.

The budget discussion is slated to take place during the regular council meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall. The meeting is open to the public.

The budget council will vote on includes either a one-time pay increase or a cost of living 2 percent salaary increase for city employees, although council may elect to make that a full-fledged raise. That decision is expected to come Thursday night.

Either way the cost is an estimated $280,000, and it comes strongly recommended by City Manager Jim Pennington, who noted that the city has fewer employees than nearly every city of similar size in Georgia, a strong indicator that staff handles a significant workload.

It has also been noted that none of the other cities the city “sizes up” to in Georgia have anything like an 80-mile cart path system to maintain, which is an extra cost. Also, the city has started to see some employees leave for higher-paying jobs elsewhere, officials have said.

In addition to the pay raises for employees, the budget also includes a full-time civilian evidence custodian for the police department, one part-time bailiff to free up officers for patrol during municipal court days and a second motorcycle unit in place of a patrol car purchase, officials have said.

The budget also includes six new part-time maintenance technicians and improved capital equipment for the public works department.

The police department will get funds for a new fingerprinting system and a new surveillance system, but the purchase of a police records management software package has been pushed back to next year.

Mayor Haddix is putting together a committee of citizens to look at budget cuts from a service delivery perspective, so residents can help decide what they’re willing to pay for city services, and what services they might be willing to live without to save money and avoid or shrink potential property tax increases in the future.

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