Lessons learned in Low Temp debacle?
On Aug. 11, 2010 The Citizen’s headline read, “PTC fees kill industry deal, 165 jobs.”
The article contained excerpts from a letter written by Low Temp President Ben Casey to the city explaining why he had terminated his plan to relocate his company to Peachtree City. The following excerpts stood out quite prominently:
“Due to the mounting project costs associated with the sewer, tap/impact fees, landscape requirements and overall land cost, we have determined that the project is not feasible today.
“Over the past few weeks, our confidence in the ability to develop the site has diminished. The inability of the city, Fayette County Development Authority and the Peachtree City Water and Sewage Authority to get the sewer issue resolved at no cost to Low Temp coupled with the confusion over fees, buffers and schedules between the county, city and planning commission made the road to relocating extremely difficult to forecast and comprehend at times.”
How did the Low Temp opportunity get to this situation in the first place? Low Temp represented a significant amount of jobs and revenue to Peachtree City. Did Mayor Haddix and the City Council meet face to face with Ben Casey of Low Temp during the time he was considering relocating to Peachtree City to discuss his needs, concerns and problems before they became deal killers?
What actions have been taken by the mayor and council members since the Low Temp deal was lost? It has been over a month since this announcement was made by Low Temp and so far the only action concerning the new business revenue growth, of which the Low Temp relocation would certainly qualify, has been the following:
City Council members Eric Imker, Vanessa Fleisch and Kim Learnard voted against Mayor Don Haddix and Council member Doug Sturbaum’s proposal to increase the DAPC funding from $35,000 to $150,000 annually and, instead voted to eliminate funding to the DAPC from $35,000 to $0 and to hire an economic development coordinator as a Peachtree City staffer.
So the entire amount allocated out of Peachtree City’s budget for new and existing business revenue retention and growth is one coordinator?
This vote tells me that Eric Imker, Vanessa Fleisch and Kim Learnard don’t think DAPC is worth much. In fact, it is worth $0 funding, according to them.
DAPC’s charter is to assist local businesses in growing their business, listening to the concerns of existing businesses to help keep them in Peachtree City and work with potential small businesses that are considering moving to Peachtree City.
Did Eric Imker, Vanessa Fleisch and Kim Learnard meet with DAPC and any of the current and prospective Peachtree City businesses that are receiving assistance from DAPC to solicit their feedback before deciding to completely eliminate DAPC’s funding?
DAPC now has to suspend most, if not all, of its current activities due to the complete elimination of its $35,000 budget in one fell swoop. Was this the right thing to do and the right way to do it?
What lessons have been learned by the Low Temp relocation loss and the subsequent actions taken by the mayor and council?
The first lesson learned is that the mayor and council need to meet with all significant-sized business prospects (like Low Temp) who are seriously considering relocating to Peachtree City in order to make certain, 1) should significant problems arise, that the mayor and council will know about them and 2) that these problems can be addressed quickly and effectively by the mayor and council members before they become deal killers.
The second lesson learned is how council members Eric Imker, Vanessa Fleisch and Kim Learnard operate. The DAPC de-funding, as stated in Sept. 18-19, 2010 edition of The Citizen was “notable because the move was not vetted in advance by city staff, instead sprung as a surprise, effectively preventing the public from having any input on the proposal.”
Was this council action taken to de-fund DAPC legal and/or proper [notice] given that it was not openly vetted to the public before it was voted on?
I believe that this de-funding act needs to be reviewed by the mayor and council in an open forum to discuss this. Eric Imker, Vanessa Fleisch and Kim Learnard need to explain why they thought they had the right to push for a vote on this DAPC de-funding without fair and open public discussion ahead of time.
Peachtree City, Ga.