Mayor driving PTC to a fiscal trainwreck

Tue, 06/19/2007 - 3:40pm
By: Letters to the ...

On June 14, 2007, a local reporter issued a blog asking for suggestions on how the Peachtree City mayor and council should address the city’s budget crisis since the mayor seems to lack the competence to deal with such matters.

Mayor Logsdon and his supporters’ boasting about the mayor’s supposed ability to usher in a new era of financial accountability, thus reducing taxes and eliminating waste, proved to be a collection of limp promises.

Those early guarantees have deteriorated to the point where a local reporter is now begging for suggestions. This is embarrassing to many of us.

Although I do not suspect anything illegal has occurred, I believe the city should request an independent audit, not by the city’s contracted auditor, of the “accounting procedures and management philosophy” of the city.

There is a great deal of public mistrust. Two years of council inaction and excuses have not shed any light [on] our city’s financial crisis. The mayor is going to have the face the fact that irresponsible spending and sticking his head in the sand will do little to resolve the current dilemma.

Raiding the city’s reserves is short-sighted, ill-advised, and will be more costly to taxpayers in the long run.

Although Mayor Logsdon has not made a public pronouncement as to his particular management philosophy (assuming he has one), the clear message conveyed to the taxpayers is the city has limited itself to only two options: Raising the levels of taxation or raiding reserve accounts.

This severely limited position totally ignores having a thorough analysis or prioritizing spending and service utilization.

Ill-advised acts such as the mayor and council trying to double their salary in the midst of a failing budget year did little to bolster the confidence of the taxpayers.

Peachtree City taxpayers should be made aware of the consequences of utilizing shoddy financial practices such as deferring or offsetting expenses by using more debt than usual and depleting accounts used for unforeseen emergencies during the fiscal year.

The tightfisted approach the mayor promised turned into a laissez-faire environment providing copious funding to a variety of spending opportunities without consideration of the bottom line.

The city’s budget has turned into a convenient cookie jar. The city has legitimate financial worries, but repeatedly targeting the reserves of the city and accruing more and more debt is a desperate and costly Band-Aid. There will come a time when the city’s capital ratio will be reduced to the point where the interest rates will be decreased for future indebtedness.

Peachtree City must develop a business plan and a management philosophy based on three important policies: 1. Pay-as-you-go for capital purchases. 2. Keep costs to the taxpayers low and services high as possible. 3. Maximize the life-span of the current infrastructure without adding additional burdens.

Peachtree City used to operate on a “pay as you go” basis. Unfortunately, the city made a drastic change in course in the early 1990s leading to increased debt and significantly higher tax rates.

A city can be a capital-intensive enterprise. A “pay as you go” financial strategy: 1. Reduces cost because there are no interest payments. 2. Avoids raising municipal taxes. 3. Avoids many years of debt payments after the expenses have occurred.

Wasteful expenses such as covered tennis courts, unnecessary legal fees, “social” spending, professional bicycle races, meaningless studies and development authority bail-outs should never be tolerated.

The city’s ability to prioritize spending and eliminate waste will determine our success in future years. To this point, the mayor and his staff has failed to even get off the ground.

Public participation is a must. All budgets are publicly announced, and yearly audits listing transactions are also available. There are no “cash cows” for the city to feed upon. The local taxpayers must demand accountability from municipal government.

More inaction means the costs to the taxpayers will be vastly higher in the future than they are now. The city officials work for the taxpayers and not the other way around.

The city’s future budget projections are bleak and there is no commitment to the taxpayers. The mayor and his staff should not be allowed to defer the blow from current pork projects to later years through debt funding. Likewise, they should not be allowed to drain reserve accounts to put a Band-Aid on the fiscal management problems of the city.

Our economy is trending toward a negative cycle and we can only hope that Mayor Logsdon and the council will finally step up and provide the leadership we expect.

We will pay a dear price for the increased indebtedness and declining reserves in the future years. A reduction in growth means revenues will flatten in the future and the mayor has been told this on several occasions. He refuses to change course.

I cannot attach my name to this letter [for] fear of reprisal.

Name withheld

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