Mr. Mayor I Respectfully Disagree

12 replies [Last post]
Mike King
Mike King's picture
Offline
Joined: 11/29/2006

To cure Peachtree City’s voracious appetite for additional tax monies, adding yet another tax intended to belay our huge debt is not the answer. Simply adding another SPLOST is only addressing a symptom of what plagues our city while the actual disease of uncontrolled spending is allowed to continue.

To your credit, many of the issues that could have been addressed by previous Councils are now being acted upon, but using your words; “much is yet to be done.” Your determination has led to the privatization of the Tennis Center, and hopefully the same can be done with the Kedron Fieldhouse and perhaps even the Fred. The efforts spearheaded by Doug Sturbaum and Mark Hollums to level the playing field for Peachtree City in attracting economic development has your fingerprints all over it. Accepting responsibility and dispensing credit are traits of your leadership.

In your posting last week you mention a total debt of nearly $20M and an annual payment of $3.5M which leads me to believe that by enacting a SPLOST you wish to address the symptom of spending (debt) while ignoring what it is brought us here. As an example, if as you say, we have expended a million dollars per year needlessly or perhaps erroneously within recreation, why is it that the department head and/or their supervisor are still employed? Please don’t use the adage of “they were following directives of previous Councils because even the weakest of Councils realize the value of a million bucks.

As much as I would like to help you, I will not support a SPLOST to bail out a city staff that bears much of the responsibility for this debt and I seriously doubt the majority of my fellow citizens will either. For the nearly three years of this economic downturn, not one of your six figure staffers have had a reduction in pay. How many of your constituents can claim that. Reality is that many have lost their jobs and have resorted to more drastic measures to make ends meet. How many of Peachtree City’s Department heads have suffered such a fate?

Reality is that we citizens do not exist to support our city staff, we both know the opposite to be true. You have explained over and over that all the cuts have been made before we will see a reduction in services, and you are correct. If, that is, if we continue to meet the current bloated payroll and continue to grant matching 401K contributions and a retirement program that is fiscally more attractive than most private sector retirement plans.

Another reality is that government officials are the most distrusted of Americans and giving your “staff” this influx of money from SPLOST will only serve to assure them that they take precedence over we ordinary citizens. Maybe this is behind the rancor concerning your pay raise, after all, if it was to be fairly compensated that you wished to achieve perhaps you should have sought the city manager’s position since he makes some sixteen times as much annually while you sign his paycheck.

Mr. Mayor, you depart in four or eight years, those on your staff were present when you took office and likely will be in their jobs long after you depart. It matters not to them that the empty buildings along Dividend Drive outnumber those that are filled. It matters not to them that the empty retail spaces continue to grow. What matters to them is the protection that elected officials like yourself provide them for job security with annual performance bonuses for merely doing their jobs.

Your largest expense is payroll, reduce it substantially, and then I’ll consider a bail out.

Bonkers
Bonkers's picture
Offline
Joined: 03/01/2010
MIKE: Budgets

I have written things here similar to your comments above, but about all I said was if you are short X dollars for the coming year cut X dollars out of the budget, do not add a tax or a bunch of stupid fees.

I have stated that head counts must be in those cuts and that we aren't at the place yet where not one single employee of any type, including police and fire protection, can't be cut for their share of avoiding a tax increase at this time.

I'm afraid however that current City leadership is more interested in increasing "services" instead of demanding more output from those who would be left!

There are many desk jockeys now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and maybe soon, Iran, due to shortness of grunts and grunt supervisors in those places. We even have gone so far as to really damage the Guard and Reserves. That will now have to be repaired. Many do not know just how many Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, and others (contract) are now also assisting the Marines and Army due to not adding to the Army.

No reason under strong leadership such things can't be done in PTC budget.

PTC Observer
PTC Observer's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/23/2007
Mike's right on Mr. Mayor

In the latest UPDATE from our city government Mayor Haddix on the one hand says that the SPLOST would have the "primary goal of removing over $6 million dollars in debt" and on the other hand "making it a fixed ongoing source of funding for road, cart path and qualified infrastructure construction needs".

In other words, once we get a SPLOST we can spend it anyway we want if it's written right. What don't you understand Mr. Mayor, we don't want an "ongoing source of funding".

The problem is of course that taxes are the cocaine of the political class, the more they have the more they want to spend. The more they spend the more they want to raise taxes. It reminds me of the Roman saying: "facile largire de alieno" or approximately "it's easier to be generous with other people's money".

Mr. Haddix, you need to find a way to be more effective with the money you have and reduce the scope of our government. If you need to raise property tax to provide services to the people of Peachtree City, then explain it.

I can support a SPLOST if it is written narrowly to pay down our debt, once the debt is paid the SPLOST ends, and no new debt can be taken on while the SPLOST is in force.

Mr. Mayor you have a difficult job, but you ran for it and now you have it. Get on with it.

Don Haddix
Don Haddix's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/17/2007
Haddix: Observer

There are a lot of issues going on in this mix. I hope you plan to come to the Budget Workshops and Town Hall in June.

Then you can get a first hand of where we are and ask any questions you wish to ask.

We have the Survey and want the citizens to understand where we are as much as possible and have their say.

Nothing is in concrete yet as to where this will all end up.

PTC Observer
PTC Observer's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/23/2007
Haddix - Questions

Mayor Haddix, I have been to town hall meetings, quite frankly I don't think they accomplish a whole lot. These are simply podiums for grandstanding politicians and I can’t actually see that they change any minds.

Remember the people that turn out for the town meetings usually have a one issue agenda that is on the meeting agenda. They are not there to shape policy.

The only change that comes is at the ballot box when politicians don’t act to solve problems.

A survey is a good idea, but only if it is actually used by the council.

I think what we are talking about is a philosophy. Either we can get our house in order or we can't. I am not saying that it can be done without raising taxes; it is likely that taxes will have to be raised. All I am saying is the council needs to be honest about it. If you have to raise our property tax, then explain it; tell us why you need it and how you will spend it. Tell us how you plan to use our money more effectively, give us a clue as to what your going actually to do. Don't tell us that we are understaffed, tell us how you are going to use the staff more effectively.

We are all adults; we can decide if this is what we want out of our government. If not there is always another election.

Simply do the right thing not the thing that you think will get you re-elected. Frankly, no one cares if your re-elected unless you do the right thing. If you're a one term Mayor or council member so be it.

Get on with it and stop positioning for the next election.

Don Haddix
Don Haddix's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/17/2007
Haddix: Mike King

Mike, you are a good friend but I sincerely ask you to find out facts first before speaking.

Right off the SPLOST is off the table for at least this year. The AFCG majority said no. That, of course, you could not know since it just happened.

Council controls the Budget, not Staff. Some Councils did not base the Budget on wise money management but politically decisions, such as fighting against the changes that finally happened in Recreation because of their supporters, not the city as a whole.

Council said there will be two nights at the Fred to protect Gold Ticket holders and there were two nights at over a $200,000.00 loss. The Tennis Center would remain under Tourism wasting several hundred thousand a year because some friend or supporters wanted it that way, it remained. The Kedron Pool rates would not change so the taxpayers paid $701,000.00 a year they didn't have to. Tourism needed no changes so none took place. And so on. All because of Council, not Staff.

In the 2007-9 Budgets Staff kept recommending changes. Council didn't approve what was needed to be done and only began to make changes for 2010 due to being an election year with all the past mistakes catching up to them. But even then they didn't do all that was needed.

As for Staff, the job of Assistant City Manager has been gone for about a year now. That is one of those six digit salaries. The head of Public Works, who did not make six digits, is also gone with the assistant doing the job. They all have taken some significant hits in their benefits packages and won't be seeing a raise any time soon. Other have had their job descriptions rewritten with cuts or two jobs merged into one.

As for you making it sound like we have a big list of people pulling down six digits, that simply isn't correct. It is quite small in fact.

Then there is the issue of people with contracts we cannot simply cut any time if we feel like it. That has to be done at contract renewal, none of which is occurring soon.

On the 401(k) and retirement issues, that is already under review and there will be public Workshop in the issue. Nothing hidden on that subject.

As for your constant reference to bloated payroll, you make it sound like our workers are getting rich when they are not. Remember, Staff is few in numbers. Over 200 are not Staff.

We are off to a faster start than any other Council I can remember. But it takes time and I can tell you there is a lot in work and under review. There will be more changes, many of which I believe you will like.

You know me. I don't delay so if something is not getting done immediately it is for good reason.

We really should sit down and talk some time. I sincerely believe you are basing some assumptions on false premises.

Bonkers
Bonkers's picture
Offline
Joined: 03/01/2010
Mike: budgets

I have said about all I want to say on this subject so you have the ball!

Apparently "staff" doesn't influence the Council very much, or so he says.
They seem to be quite loud to me.

They simply don't have what it takes in leadership to cut personnel to the income.

Mike King
Mike King's picture
Offline
Joined: 11/29/2006
My Friend Don

The 'fact' that you and I do not agree upon a SPLOST is a given, one needs only to read your last article. You say Council controls the budget, I say it is formulated by your staff for your approval with or without your input. Either way, the difference is minimal. Without being specific, you say only a small number of staff are earning six figures. Would that be ten percent after bonuses? If so, then it would be twenty-four($2.4M). Payroll is your largest expense, so it bears to reason that an astute manager would at least look there for possible waste.

I would like to sit down with you again, but rereading my article I find no false premise.

Don Haddix
Don Haddix's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/17/2007
Haddix: Mike

Call me and we can set something up.

Let me leave it here that you give Staff more control than they have, there are no bonuses and less than half your number make the salaries you think they do.

As well remember we do not pay WASA or Airport salaries. They are not City employees.

Bonkers
Bonkers's picture
Offline
Joined: 03/01/2010
who pays salaries?

I think I do in one way or another, be they WASA or Airport!

When I stay in a hotel in another city, I pay for their airport also just as our visitors pay for ours!

Who does sign the airport checks? Water checks? Authorities I suppose? Who are Authorities by name?

Does anyone who the City contracts for services have anyone on payroll above five figures?

Here is what I suggest you do: Contract out the City Management totally! That way no one on the City Payroll will make anything. Zero taxes!

If I had such a sorry staff who contribute nothing, I would just fire them!

Bonkers
Bonkers's picture
Offline
Joined: 03/01/2010
w

I

grassroots
grassroots's picture
Offline
Joined: 02/17/2009
Right On About SPLOST

But the suggestion of what to do with a SPLOST being voted for will never happen.
http://www.splostpoll.com/

inkslinger
inkslinger's picture
Offline
Joined: 03/20/2007
Contracts

Let me step in here. How many of these contracts for employees are we locked into where these 100k plus employees get paid whether they are let go or not?

The fact that the city mgr. got a brand new contract the same month of the election, but before the new council was seated, tells me we are stuck for at least the next year. How many others were given this "gift" by the outgoing elected officials? Read between the lines here and you might see how this sets up.

Recent Comments