No property tax hike for PTC?

Sat, 05/31/2008 - 2:30pm
By: John Munford

The Peachtree City Council will get down to some rough business Monday and Tuesday evening during budget workshops at City Hall.

With sales tax revenues down and lower than expected growth in the property tax digest, council will undoubtedly face some tough choices in drafting its annual budget. As City Finance Director Paul Salvatore noted, those two revenue sources are the city’s largest.

And the city hasn’t been immune to increases in expenses such as the rising cost of fuel, Salvatore said.

Monday’s budget meeting is slated for 6 p.m. and Tuesday’s will start at 6:30 p.m.

The proposed city budget, at least this first draft, doesn’t have a millage rate increase at the direction of council from its retreat. But city staff are projecting a 1.5 mill increase for the following year, up from previous projections of a .7 mill hike.

In 2009 the city had previously projected getting $8 million in local option sales taxes, but the projections have been changed in the stunted economy to just over $7 million in LOST revenue, Salvatore explained.

Already some of the tough choices for the 2008-2009 budget have been made in cuts by City Manager Bernie McMullen, who has chopped more than $3 million from the budget before it was finalized for presentation to council, Salvatore said.

Department directors are prioritizing their budget cuts so they can be considered for restoration by council.

The current version of the budget proposed by staff includes the use of $1.3 million in cash reserves, which still leaves the city with more than the recommended 20 percent of its budget to have on hand should an emergency arise, Salvatore said.

Also, the city is using an additional $470,000 originally earmarked for paying off debt service early to help balance the budget, Salvatore added.

The budget includes a cost-of-living raise for city employees along with merit raises, Salvatore said.

On the property tax side, the digest growth is being estimated at 1.5 percent in Peachtree City. Salvatore said city staff are budgeting for the figure to be 1 percent because some property owners will file appeals and other issues may arise.

Salvatore pointed out that the city has only raised the millage rate once in the past four years, and in the same time frame they’ve added 43 full-time and 10 part-time employees which will cost the city $1.9 million this year. Meanwhile that one millage rate raise of a quarter-mill will get the city $460,000 in revenues this year.

“We’ve obviously significantly increased our service level in the past four years,” Salvatore said, noting that many of the positions were in public safety.

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Mike King's picture
Submitted by Mike King on Fri, 05/30/2008 - 3:30pm.

Hopefully, this budget "crisis" will lend itself to forcing some of our electorate that out of control spending will, in time, catch up with the slickest of politicians. In that light, I would offer the following:

1-If the City Manager is prepared to give up $3M, I would make a concerted effort to look deeper, for there's more to be found.

2-Of the following 49 full time and 10 part time new hires, which are truly crucial to the everyday operation of Peachtree City. Perhaps a hard consideration for firemen and the like.

3-For the cost of living raises for city employees, consider limiting them to only those employees who are paid hourly, thus placing help where it is truly needed.

4-For merit raises consider awarding only say a total of the equalivalent of only 2% of the city's workforce instead of the bloated percentages of the past.

5-Consider the bidding process for city contracts, for surely some of the projects that have normally been outsourced could be done in house(grass cutting along Hwy 74 as an example).

6-Consider the option of volunteers for certain tasks, both the police and fire departments have done well in this arena.

7-Delay the pay raise for Council, if they're in it for the money, we chose wrong.

These are but a few "common sense" type aproaches that could help. Times are hard all over, and raising taxes or passing along a debt are not what this citizenry wants to hear. The time of "smoke and mirrors" have long passed, now make the decisions that need making which only requires you to do your job.

Just my two cents worth.

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