PTC survey: how long is too long?

To say that Peachtree City’s citizen Needs Assessment committee is getting into the down and dirty is an understatement.

At its weekly meeting Thursday, much of the conversation was about how detailed to get with the survey questions.

As with all matters budgetary, there are no easy answers but the group is hopeful to make some headway with a draft survey that will be bandied about at the Dec. 20 meeting.

The group is wary of making the survey onerous and discouraging residents whose input is sorely needed. But how many is just right: 20, 25, 30?

Too few questions and the survey risks having too little data. But if residents are overwhelmed with 50 questions are more, will they make the effort to complete it, or will they ditch it altogether?

These are all judgment calls the committee will be making in coming weeks, but the overarching goal is clear: cranking up the effort in mid-January with a goal of randomly selecting 400 residents representing each subdivision and apartment complex. With that figure, the survey will have a good statistical sampling of the city that comes with a margin of error of plus 5 percent. And it is possible they will manage to get more responses to get an even more reliable set of results.

The committee is tasked with prioritizing city services and how much citizens are willing to pay for those services with property taxes, which are a major chunk of the city’s revenue. The city’s other main source of revenue is sales tax receipts but those figures won’t factor into this exercise, at least not directly.

There was some discussion Thursday about opening the survey up to local business owners, and while a final decision wasn’t made, there were significant fears that doing so might endanger the survey results.

Committee member Phil Prebor said that as a business owner he would like to be able to take the survey. Prebor is also a city resident and in that light, the survey is sure to go to at least a few residents who have business interests in the city, several committee members noted.

While businesses pay property taxes just like residents do, they can have different agendas than residents, some of whom might want to see the city curtail spending in certain areas, said committee member Allen Baldwin.

“The bottom line is if the residents are here and the residents are happy, the businesses are going to be OK,” Baldwin said.

Committee member John Dufresne, who has volunteered to draft the survey questions, suggested the committee focus on areas of the city budget that can be influenced by citizens. It was mentioned that since the stormwater fees don’t use property taxes, that issue be avoided entirely, for example.

“Maybe we need to focus on the aspects of the city that are asking for more chunks of money,” said committee member Holly Machemehl. “... Some need a lot, some don’t need a lot.”

The issue of probing residents about employee pay was also discussed, but no final decisions were made in any regard.

The committee agreed to look to other surveys to judge the appropriate length necessary to meet the group’s goal. A commitment to keep the survey questions unbiased remains at the forefront of discussions as well.

While many on the committee might have strong feelings about what level they’d like to see city spending at, and the commensurate property tax rate, each committee member has been very respectful of others throughout the process so far, as politics have been kept out of the discussion for the most part to keep the eye on the main goal: providing the city council with solid input from citizens on city service levels and property tax rates.

For more information on the committee along with a significant amount of background data, visit www.peachtree-city.org/needs.

dar thompson
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If you want

nice things...you have to pay for them. As a city you have to maintain a presentation to maintain value. Sometimes that may cost the average citizen $2:00 more per month in city taxes to maintain that presentation and quality of life (under the right leadership). Otherwise if you have nothing to sale than people want buy...thus a decrease in home values, which will cost you thousands of dollars...not $2:00 per month.

Husband and Fat...
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Dar You are correct

You are correct. Most people moved to PTC due to the ammendities provided. While I believe that we need to cut the fluff out of the budgets, we still need to maintain the value of our homes and community and this sometimes costs money.

This survey is just a silly political move by a Mayor who can't lead and comes to meetings unprepared to join the debate. Four of the councilmen and women came to the table and offered suggestions to cut the budget. The mayor did not. He wants to push this off to a committee. If they come back with one good suggestion, he will pat himself on the back and call it a success. If they fail to provide any items, then he just blames this on others (the committee or council).

The mayors vote last week not aproving a hotel/motel tax increase that the hotels and motels approved proves that the mayor put a line in the sand and will not cross this line even if it makes sense. The only logical reason for his vote was that he did not want any record of him voting for a tax increase, so that he has a clean platform to run on. Purely petty and childish.

mudcat
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I think it a survey of what he needs to say to get reelected

Frankly I'm surprised the people on the committee don't see through this. They seem like sensible, serious people. Maybe they actually think that the rest of council will adopt some good ideas if they are brought to the surface in a survey. Maybe, but more likely the others on council will just ignore this whole thing because it is Haddix alone pushing it. Sad, but when we have a leader who can't lead, this is what happens - even his good ideas get ridiculed because of the source.

Busy Bee
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Survey Results

Frankly, I'm very interested in the results of the official survey of voters that will come at the end of the mayors term...

GeorgeDienhart
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Mudcat

I believe you are absolutly correct. This is a strictly political move by the mayor. It allows him to adopt any good ideas the commitee has as his own, and to blame anything that doesnt work on the commitee. For what it is worth, I will do my level best to ensure that the commitees feedback is handled fairly and that they get credit for thier hard work. I may not agree with why the commitee is formed, but I am always open to feedback.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Councilman

Once again you make inaccurate statements and accusations.

As proven by pushing for annual surveys in 2008, citizen input has always been a goal of mine. Sadly, those surveys became political and the results were ignored.

You and other Councilmembers opposed forming the Committee. I did so anyway.

You insult the Committee Members by implying they are not firm in their mission to inform the public about the costs and services of government, create an unbiased survey and distribute the results back to the public in an unbiased manner. They have and will handle, fairly, all aspects of the process from beginning to end.

Nothing but dedication and independence has been seen from any of them. Since I have to be on the Committee, my role is to chair and facilitate only. I do not vote on anything. I do not dictate direction since giving the purpose for forming the Committee. When not able to attend due to other commitments, they do not miss a step and keep going.

There was no interview process. Anyone applying for the Committee was placed on the Committee.

Here your saying you will do this or that is interjecting you and your politics. Not allowed and will not happen. You have no role in this Committee.

You should be concerned that the Committee will be effective after your past negative statements.

Everyone should applaud and recognize the dedication, hard work and service to the community of the Committee. Count on my appreciation being stated in the newspapers and their being recognized at a Council Meeting once this is complete.

Spyglass
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ME ME ME

Look at me.......

Again, MR. Mayor, what about our 12K?

Husband and Fat...
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Reading comprehension

I don't see where Councilman Dienhart insulted anyone on the committee. In fact he stated he would be sure that the committee received the due credit for their hard work. Seems to me that you need to get a little thicker skin.

Everyone can see the politics you are playing. If the suggestions fail to gain support, you blame the committee or council. If one item is sucessful, you stick out your chest, bang it a few times and ask all of us to annoint you king. We can see it. Can you?

Mike King
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Another Ill Conceived Diatribe

Does this little man realize just how much of an embarrassment he is to Peachtree City? Mr Dienhart interjected nothing, but ol' Donnie Boy simply has to put George and the remainder of Council on public notice that this is HIS Committee, HIS survey, and HIS idea. A most astute way of alienating the Council against the mayor and insuring that anything positive coming out of this committee has a lessened chance of implementation.
Way to go mayor! Now, about that $12K you owe us taxpayers would you care to tell us when you expect to make restitution?

Larry Sussberg
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Mayor Haddix, The Committee and The Budget

I totally respect the work that this committee is doing.

Assuming you have requested that they be specific when they identify what services cuts will be made.

The citizens are expecting a detailed report showing where the cuts will be, how much it saves and by department how these cuts translate into revised service levels.

We expect to see a proposed balanced budget with no tax increases and we are expecting this to be done prior to November 2013 prior to the election.

You have been very tough on every city council member and previous mayors over tax increases.
Now is your moment to prove and succeed.

If you do not produce the recommendations with specific cuts as you have complained about for years, you should not run or be reelected mayor. If this was a corporation and you failed on a project like this, you'd be fired. So assume the voters will fire you.

You have hung your hat on this key issue and that's what matters.
You own it and your reelection must and will be tied to it!

Plain and simple.

Larry Sussberg
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Committee

I absolutely recognize the hard work of this committee.

Looking forward seeing their recommendations, and hoping its in detail including the service reductions, layoffs by department, sale of assets, etc. Anything less is a waste of everyone's time. It must be detailed and comprehensive with exact cost cutting figures and projected savings.

As a businessman you should be able to build the city budget reflecting this information.

Then, as the Mayor, you will need to implement every recommended cost cutting poposal WITH ZERO TAX INCREASES.

If this is not done by the next mayoral election cycle (November 2013), then considerate it a failure and you should not run or be reelected Mayor.

You have harped on tax increases as a council member and mayor. Now you have you chance with a 15 month window to succeed.

Its very clear, the spotlight is on you!