PTC Council behaving badly — all 5 of them
This writer’s last opinion column was critical of the Peachtree City mayor and four city council members for their June 16 assault on the city’s recreation program. It was noted that their shameful action was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the column called for all five incumbents to resign from office because they had lost credibility with the public.
Today’s column identifies five of the many “straws” that led to the conclusion that these self-centered politicians should step aside and permit the citizens to elect adults to take charge of the city. They have harmed Peachtree City during the first 19 months of their regime as follows:
• The council gleefully voted to amend the city ordinance to allow cell towers on city-owned open space parcels such as Blue Smoke Park (OS-P zoning). Cell towers are huge revenue producers and this writer is concerned that the City Council has a tower lease revenue producing plan that will be revealed after the next election. The new ordinance is already in place and new open space zoned towers may be visible from nearby residential neighborhoods within two years!
• The second “straw” relates to the federally subsidized low income apartments that will be built on Newgate Road. NorSouth Corporation, the developer, sued the city in both federal and state court alleging age and racial discrimination after their rezoning petition was denied. The City Council chose to fold and give NorSouth everything it wanted rather than protect the Kedron community by fighting in court.
The council further spit in the face of citizens by formally passing a resolution in support of NorSouth’s application for tax credits. These credits will significantly boost the developer’s bottom line.
The city has since agreed to sell land to NorSouth to help make the project bigger and more suitable for the developer’s needs. The action of the City Council makes one wonder what is the advantage of acquiescing to NorSouth’s demands.
• The third “straw” that broke the camel’s back relates to the city’s industrial park. Our mayor and city council naively petitioned the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to designate the city’s industrial park as an economically challenged area in a well-meaning effort to increase the amount of tax credits for new jobs created by industry.
The action actually discouraged economic development. Experienced economic developers and commercial real estate agents are aware that corporate executives exploring relocation won’t consider or visit a site in economically challenged areas unless they are looking for third -world-country labor costs. It is likely that Peachtree City has been eliminated from numerous site searches by top quality corporations because the industrial park is documented in state records as economically challenged.
• The fourth “straw” is council’s decision to disband the fire department’s dive team to save $18,000 despite knowing it is responsible for rescues on two large lakes and numerous ponds in the city. It could cost more to bring a dive team from another jurisdiction into Peachtree City if there is a need to recover a body from one of the lakes.
Council voted at the same meeting to proceed with a bubble to cover the outdoor swimming pool at the Kedron Field House eventually costing almost one-half million dollars in borrowed money. Is there something wrong with their priorities?
• The fifth and most serious “straw” was created when council quietly convinced the local legislative delegation to introduce and pass state legislation allowing creation of a public facilities authority in Peachtree City. After passage of the bill, council quickly established the new authority and appointed themselves to five of the six authority positions.
The “talking points” explanation is that the authority is needed to give council the ability to refinance existing bonds and levy new bonds to save the city’s infrastructure while reducing debt service obligations. Their numbers amount to voodoo economics and the new authority is a scam comparable to a Charles Ponzi scheme!
Since the late 1990s, Peachtree City has financed facilities and other capital projects through the Georgia Municipal Association’s (GMA) Brick and Mortar Program. This cooperative arrangement insures that Peachtree City and other participating cities get favorable rates and pay less in fees when bonds are used to borrow money. The GMA has rules, regulations and limits on the amount of debt service specifically for the protection of taxpayers. Peachtree City staff was advised in 2009 that the capacity for Brick and Mortar loans to Peachtree City was running out.
The facilities authority was created by this council to resolve that issue. According to the proposed budget, the authority will now be irresponsibly used to buy things such as replacement police vehicles, which should be paid from the annual operating budget.
The scam is that the City Council will use long-term bonded indebtedness to finance operating budget expenditures, making more operating money available for pet projects. They are mortgaging the taxpayers’ future for short-term gratification.
Finally, it appears that Council persons Imker, Fleisch and Learnard are picking a fight with the mayor and Councilman Sturbaum. The confrontations will be a blood bath, but the Imker team will win because three votes prevail when the opposition has only two votes.
It is the prediction of this writer that once the triumvirate gains dominance, the winning predators will viciously turn on each other. Their ambition simply will not allow them to be team players and act in the best interest of those who they are paid to represent.
An anonymous citizen submitted a vent published in a recent edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The vent is relevant to our situation in Peachtree City.
“We have met the enemy and he is us. We are the ones who keep electing these people to office and then look the other way when they prove to be incompetent, unethical or both. We need to start holding them and ourselves accountable!”
[Scott Bradshaw, a resident of Peachtree City, is a real estate broker and residential real estate developer. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]