Read my lips: 2nd PTC tax hike in 2 years?

Tue, 06/05/2007 - 5:08pm
By: John Munford

The first draft of the 2007-2008 budget for Peachtree City includes a quarter-mill tax increase and a dip of nearly $550,000 into the city’s cash reserves.

If approved by council, the tax increase would be the second in as many years. Mayor Harold Logsdon was elected in 2005 on a platform that promised fiscal austerity, as was Councilman Steve Boone.

After getting the most votes in 2005, Logsdon promised to provide “leadership, quality of life and financial accountability,” and said he was looking forward to the opportunity to look out for taxpayer dollars.

As mayoral candidate in August 2005, Logsdon complained to the then-City Council that local taxes exceeded an annual cost of living adjustment of around 3 percent and said, “It just seems wrong for local governments to take more than that away from us.”

“The tax base must be examined to see if funds can be used in other places, without a tax increase,” a Citizen story reported that Boone said at a senior citizens forum before his election victory in 2005.

Within nine months of that election, the Peachtree City Council approved its first outright tax increase in several years.

The proposed .25 mill increase for 2007 amounts to a $20 hike on the property tax bill for a home with a valuation of $200,000. The city would also reap the benefit of any property tax increases based on the increased value of homes from property reassessments, which varies from parcel to parcel, and will add an estimated $196,000 to the budget.

This year’s general fund budget is increasing 8.8 percent from last year’s approved budget. Most all the increase is tied to new employees for the city, according to City Finance Director Paul Salvatore.

Among the recommended new hires are three full-time employees and converting a current part-time employee to a full-time role. Salvatore said he and City Manager Bernie McMullen cut the number of new hires from the initial number of 26, at a savings of $1.4 million.

Among the new proposed full-time employees are a new accounting manager, a new police officer and a new building systems supervisor.

The accounting manager is necessary because of extensive requirements new this year for the city’s accounting system, including new rules for financial controls and other requirements of the Sarbanes Oxley Act, Salvatore said.

The police officer is being recommended for patrolling of the city’s cart path system, and the building systems supervisor is necessary because currently only one staffer is dedicated to maintenance issues for the city’s buildings, Salvatore said.

The part-time role proposed for a full-time position is that of the assistant city planner, which was also deemed important, Salvatore indicated.

Also this year the city will have to pay a full year’s worth of salary to three new firefighters that were added in the middle of the budget year with funds left over from a grant that didn’t come through, Salvatore said.

Salvatore is also recommending that two part-time employees be added for the Teen Activities at Glenloch program, though their combined salary of $15,000 would be offset by revenues from the program.

Although the city is expected to have a surplus at the end of the year of more than $500,000, that’s not necessarily good because a large chunk of that figure represents vacancies in the police department that are affecting patrol issues. Also, that has led to a decrease in revenue from court fines, Salvatore said.

Salvatore and McMullen are also recommending to transfer a systems specialist from the library to the city’s main information technology department, with that employee focusing on the needs of public safety, handling issues with new technology for the police and fire departments such as the recent addition of mobile data terminals in police vehicles and the like, Salvatore said.

The first draft of the budget is typically the version initially proposed by the city manager and is subject to changes from council before it is officially adopted.

Last year, the quarter-mill tax increase was attributed to the hiring of three new police officers and three new firefighters.

Overall as currently projected, property taxes make up 27 percent of the city’s anticipated revenue for the year, followed by sales taxes at 19.9 percent, “other” taxes at 18.1 percent and the special purpose local option sales tax for transportation projects at 6.2 percent. Also included are 7.3 percent in revenues from a budget carryover and 6.7 percent for charges for services.

Nearly 39 percent of the city’s proposed general fund budget is devoted to police, fire and EMS expenses. The city is also expected to spend 17.4 percent on culture and recreation and 14.1 percent on its public works department.

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Dalton Russell's picture
Submitted by Dalton Russell on Tue, 06/05/2007 - 7:08pm.

Yes, the mayor may have run on a platform of "No New Taxes" but we see where that has gotten us so far. A .25 mill increase with a grand total cost of $20.00 for a $200,000.00 home is not that noticeable. In my opinion $20.00 means not renting a couple of movies, video games, or getting that manicure. It, however, doesn't mean that it should be approached as a lynching offense which some citizens will take it as. A full .50 mill increase would actually do a lot to bring the budget back to where it should be. Then again this is my own humble opinion.

The problem that we're currently facing is that the surrounding cities have the same cost of living, if not less, and we're not keeping up with our methods of paying for the luxuries we've come to expect. We want the cake without getting our apron dirty to make it.

As for dipping into the coffers to cover the necessities: It's a sign that some things should be assessed...and then reassessed. 39% of the budget is for Public Safety. Well, in light of two shootings last year, how many cars broken into, stolen golf carts, burglaries, thefts, and armed robberies what should we focus on? More air conditioned restrooms? That is what seems to be important here? Perhaps we should try to make an indoor ice hockey rink at Kedron Field House. Another set of ball fields? Let's build another golf cart bridge that goes unused for close to a year. It appears that there's more interest in the luxuries than the necessities.

The losses of people at the police department are abominable. How short staffed are they now? Revenues are down and crime is up. The recreation department doesn't seem to have those problems.

We should take a look around and see how other municipalities in the metro-Atlanta area are doing. I'm sure we'll find that they're a little higher up there than we are. We're seeing an influx of criminal activity that's a direct correlation to our current vulnerability because we're more focused on those things we want more than those things that we need.

If one were to refer to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs they would find that safety and security are lower on the rungs of that ladder than petty pleasures. 39% is still a fraction more than what is spent on Recreation and Culture if you are to split the 39% down the middle between Police and Fire/EMS.

As for a new building supervisor: How many buildings is this one person responsible for? How many people going in and out of every day? I think apartment complexes have more people on staff for less important things. And if someone is considering outsourcing it then they should reconsider this. Some of these buildings house classified documents, personnel files, accounting documents, cash money, millions of dollars of equipment, drugs, and weapons. I don't think this should be considered lightly and hastily.

Let's examine this:
$20.00 per year more on a house valued at $200,000.00
$0.00 for no increase and get deeper into the pit we've already dug ourselves over the past few years.

We need to step up to the plate and realize that this is the moment when we can say "Wow, it wasn't that bad. I'm glad we did it" or to look back a few years from now and try to figure out how to get ourselves out of a situation that's reprehensible. We've already cut the cost of living increases from the city employees and they're leaving like rats from a sinking ship (i.e. the police department). How many more people will begin to be courted for higher paying positions, or ones with more stable pay and benefits, elsewhere when the city refuses to pay them and wants to raise their medical costs?

How many of you out there reading this right now would be completely opposed to paying $20.00 instead of paying for a better quality of living?

$20.00 will buy you this:
Dinner for one at Outback
Three movie rentals and a bag of popcorn
Two CDs
Two tickets to the cinema

Can you afford that?

It's not even a pair of shoes, jeans, shorts, or an iPod, PS3, Xbox 360, or anything else that we deem as a "must have". And this $20.00 will be for a year, not just for a night or two.

I leave it there for you to decide.

The true horror of this world is not the criminal minds that pursue vile intent. It's the apathetic view by those who stand idly by and point fingers without the will and courage to act.

ptctaxpayer's picture
Submitted by ptctaxpayer on Tue, 06/05/2007 - 8:12pm.

Mr. Russell, I find your naievete to be astounding.

You equate the latest tax increase in our "Republican" county with insuring our quality of life.

Your tax increase is not going for police improvements--- on the contrary. City Hall is demonizing Chief Murray instead of supporting him.

Your tax increase is going for the TDK Road and the Developer Authority bail out.

Every swinging Richard at the county level is getting a big raise and the Commission looks like a summertime Santa Claus. When you get hit with a like kind tax hike by the county and crime keeps going up regardless, why don't you start a petition to give all the bureaucrats more money and more pensions.

Submitted by dollaradayandfound on Wed, 06/06/2007 - 5:10am.

Anybody seen it? How much per year plus interest?

Git Real's picture
Submitted by Git Real on Tue, 06/05/2007 - 9:33pm.

Hopefully this will work. Well it did. Smiling Even a blind hog's gonna find an acorn every now and then.


"That man was Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Scott Ballard".


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