PTC's Development Authority short on money, long on aspirations
With $14,000 left in the bank and no more funding coming from the Peachtree City Council, at this point anyway, the Development Authority of Peachtree City has enough money to get to the first of May before running out.
On a 3-2 vote of council earlier this year, DAPC’s $35,000 in funding was removed from the budget, and the authority was informed they would have to subsist on that figure with its mission.
In recent times, the authority has become more small-business oriented in an effort to help improve the status of the city’s more beleaguered shopping centers, some of which have been plagued with vacancies and dwindling foot traffic as shoppers head to some of the city’s more prestigious, newer, locations such as The Avenue.
The authority also has focused on holding monthly luncheon meetings with local industry representatives in an effort to start a line of communication for various issues that could perhaps be addressed. Officials see this particularly as a way to help retain local industry and the multitude of jobs that accompany such businesses.
The new budget prepared for DAPC contains $400 for those luncheons, in which one DAPC member meets face to face with local industrial leaders. It also contains, as required, $2,500 for an annual audit, which is required because it is considered “a financial component” of the city.
Peachtree City’s Assistant Finance Director Janet Camburn said she has worked to get proposals for liability insurance that may significantly reduce costs on that budget item from about $3,500 to perhaps less than $2,000. The authority also has to set aside funds for state-required training for new members and pay for the hourly services of City Attorney Ted Meeker on occasion for legal advice.
Some DAPC members are concerned that since the remaining $14,000 in the bank account won’t last the whole year, the budget should be amended to make it last the full fiscal year. But DAPC Chairman Todd Strickland said he was confident once the city’s new economic development director was on board and prepared a budget, there is time for the funding issue to be worked out by May.
“We might not make it to the end of the fiscal year,” authority member Mark Hollums said at Monday night’s DAPC meeting. “The state-required training, it seems like a moot point to get training if we’re not going to be here after May 1.”
Strickland said he thought such a discussion “was counterproductive, in my opinion, right now.”
“There’s plenty of time. We’ll be in good shape guys, let’s have a little faith,” Strickland said.
Strickland suggested the authority could amend its budget in February or March perhaps if it needs to come up with a contingency plan to stretch the funding throughout the year.
“Nobody has told me at this point that there’s not going to be a development authority, so we’re going to have a process and kind of figure out where the funding will be after this person has been hired,” Strickland said.
Hollums suggested if the city could help fund the authority’s need for legal advice, education of new members and the annual audit, it would be helpful.
DAPC members are volunteers and are not compensated for their service to the city, the same as the city’s other volunteer boards and commissions.
When council voted to take away DAPC funding, elected officials suggested that special DAPC projects could be brought to council for potential funding from the city.
The removal of DAPC funding from this year’s city budget was the coda of a bid by Mayor Don Haddix and Councilman Doug Sturbaum to increase the authority’s funding to $150,000. Instead, council members Vanessa Fleisch, Kim Learnard and Eric Imker approved the hiring of an economic development coordinator to work as a part of city staff, instead of directly for DAPC as proposed by Haddix.
The removal of DAPC funding caused some turmoil among authority members, chiefly Grey Durham who strongly protested the cut.
“When we got our whole budget taken away, it felt like we were thrown under the bus,” Durham told the City Council in September.
Durham, who spearheaded DAPC efforts to assist local businesses in the village shopping centers, resigned soon after.
Of DAPC’s previous $35,000 budget, some $6,000 was for a part-time secretary who assisted the authority with meeting minutes as required by law and also with other functions, including support for merchant meetings with DAPC in Durham’s efforts to get the business owners to coalesce into one group at each center.
Earlier this year, the authority spent around a thousand dollars as “seed money” in each shopping center it has worked with, funds that were pooled with contributions from merchants and the shopping center owners to help market the centers.
The merchants at the Glenloch shopping center used an art contest to beautify the temporarily-vacant “Baby Kroger” store there with art created by elementary school children.
With the loss of Durham, DAPC may have lost some of its synergy with the shopping center initiative.