PTC to consider big budget cuts Tues.

Mon, 12/01/2008 - 1:58pm
By: The Citizen

Sales tax, other revenues fall along with poor economy

Tuesday night the Peachtree City Council will be presented with a list of proposed budget cuts to address an anticipated $912,000 revenue shortfall this budget year due to the downturn in the economy.

Included in the cuts are $886,000 trimmed from departmental budgets and $450,000 in funds previously tabbed for improvement projects.

Also recommended is a postponement of purchasing items that would have been funded by debt service, resulting in a $360,000 savings.

Included in the proposed project cuts are:
- Three cart path projects that would have extended the path from Robinson Road along Ga. Highway 54 east towards the Peachtree Crossings East shopping center. Savings: $125,000.
- Improvements to the Battery Way boat docks. Savings: $148,875. This money is being transferred to pay for repairs at the police headquarters.
- A landscaping project for Ga. Highway 54 East. Savings: $33,568.
- Purchasing of a firearms simulator for police training. The city had planned to finance the project. Savings: $34,646.
- Purchasing a wireless fingerprinting system for the police department. Savings: $60,000.
Items of note among the detailed department budget cuts are:
- $8,500 that was budgeted for new laptops for the City Council;
- $25,500 by reducing the printed update newsletter to six times a year;
- $10,500 in overtime pay for police officers including compensation for appearing in court;
- $15,000 in overtime for public services employees
- $12,000 for GPS units in fire department vehicles;
- $4,000 for washing police cars;
- $6,341 in police uniforms
- $6,500 for wellness equipment for the fire department;
- $4,500 in training and education for the finance department;
- $5,000 in drafting services for the planning department;
- $20,726 from the library by reducing operating hours on Sundays;
- $15,866 by reducing the operating hours of the Kedron recreation facility on Saturdays and Sundays;
- $35,000 by closing the Clover Reach pool; and
- More than $240,000 from the recreation department including the repair and replacement of fencing at sports fields, resurfacing of tennis and basketball courts, canceling non-local training sessions and reducing the scope of the planned 50th anniversary fireworks.

Most of the shortfall is chalked up to the local option sales tax revenues, which are projected to come up $700,000 short of initial estimates. Franchise taxes are projected to be down $74,000 and the motor vehicle taxes are expected to fall $50,000.

Measures are also being proposed to address an additional shortfall of $350,000 in impact fees due to development projects that have been put on hold, officials said. That shortfall will be covered by leftover contingency funds that remained for projects funded in previous years to the tune of $333,000.

Officials are also seeking a transfer of $159,000 from the current project contingency fund to the general fund to help with the shortfall.

Some projects that would have been funded by the transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax may also be shelved with a projected shortfall in that account of $200,000.

Without the cuts, the city would need to increase its use of cash reserves to $2.5 million, about 25 percent of the city’s total general fund reserves, which might hurt the city’s bond ratings, officials said.

Also, if no cuts are made, a projected tax increase equivalent to two mills would be needed for next year, officials said.

City officials have found funds to proceed with the Ga. Highway 54 west cart path bridge that spans the CSX railroad. Much of the $247,000 set aside for the project is covered by $193,000 of the $200,000 leftover when Fayette County refunded the city’s outlay for construction of the TDK Boulevard Extension, a project that was ultimately canceled.

The funding increase for the bridge is necessary because state funding to pay for its completion has been put on hold. All that’s left is to pave the connections to the bridge to make it functional.

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sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Tue, 12/02/2008 - 3:03pm.

Okay, thinking outside the box on this paving debacle....

How about, any contractor willing to pony up the resources to do the last little bit of paving to connect The Bridge To Nowhere gets the following recognition:

1. They become the Grand Marshal in next year's 4th of July parade and are named to the Peachtree City Ring of Honor.

2. The cart bridge has a permanent plaque declaring this to be the "XXX paving company memorial bridge".

3. Most controversial: They get a "Money In The Bank" contract that allows this paving company to match the lowest bid and therefore receive the paving contract for any ONE multi-million dollar paving contract in Peachtree City within the next 10 years. All contract bids will contain disclaimers that this company will have the right to match the lowest bid so there is no possibility of a lawsuit.

Just think, a forward thinking small paving company could make the "big time" with a judicious bit of public service!!

The 5-0's picture
Submitted by The 5-0 on Tue, 12/02/2008 - 12:51pm.

"- $10,500 in overtime pay for police officers including compensation for appearing in court;
- $15,000 in overtime for public services employees"

That's just great.
PTC is now trying to weasel out of paying their employees' overtime.
Good luck with that.
More money will be spent on attorney fees from the subsequent lawsuit than if PTC actually paid the money which had been earned.

Maybe the public service and public safety employees should take a week long worker's holiday to teach the Council not to break the law by not paying overtime.

NUK_1's picture
Submitted by NUK_1 on Tue, 12/02/2008 - 3:45pm.

If you're "5-0," obviously you realize that police's schedules can be adjusted for court appearances so that overtime isn't incurred. That's hardly rocket-science or something requiring 10 MBA's to figure out how to make a schedule that accommodates officers being in court.

I failed to see in the budget plan the idea of "breaking the law" or "forcing people to work overtime but not paying them for it." I really missed that part completely.

Submitted by NeedtoKnow on Mon, 12/01/2008 - 7:30pm.

How about getting rid of the printed "Update" newsletter altogether? Put it online, on the official PTC website. If the schools can do it, so can the city.

How about allowing volunteers to work at the library, thus reducing the need for paid employees to spend time doing things that volunteers could easily do? (for example, shelve returned books, check out patrons, etc) I recently inquired as to whether there was such a volunteer opportunity and was told no. Why not?

This last item may not be popular, but what about canceling the fireworks this year? Sure, lots of folks would be upset, but as a PTC citizen, I would rather see the money go into infrastructure needs such as the cartpaths connecting the south side of the city to The Avenue and that area.

Submitted by reader71 on Tue, 12/02/2008 - 4:07pm.

Actually, the Peachtree City Library DOES have an organized volunteer program. Fayetteville, on the other hand, does not. Maybe you got them confused?

opustv's picture
Submitted by opustv on Tue, 12/02/2008 - 1:20am.

Definitely cut the items that can wait but there are other "revenue opportunities" with some of these items. The Fireworks show doesn't have a "presenting sponsor" (Coca-Cola will gladly hand over $25K to sponsor an event that has 50 thousand eyeballs). The cart path extension on the way to Publix, Steinmart, Starbucks...a little sponsorship of the new path by the commercial beneficiaries (with small, tasteful signage) would work. In short...there are corporations that will gladly pay for eyeballs with PTCs demographic make-up and it can be done in a tasteful, appealing way.

Submitted by fluffybear on Tue, 12/02/2008 - 2:22pm.

Let's be careful on this one. Some politician might get the idea it is okay to sell the naming rights off to more then we can handle. How would you like to meet your friends at the Bank of America public library or the Depends Undergarment Ampitheater?

Submitted by fluffybear on Tue, 12/02/2008 - 8:03am.

Aren't costs associated with the 4th of July fireworks and parade covered in part by the parade entry fee's??

How about charging the public a small fee (say $20) to reserve viewing spots for the parade and fireworks?

I fully agree with eliminating the 'printed' copy of PTC newsletter and making it available online. The city could also consider charging a small subscription fee (help defray the costs of printing, postage, etc) for those who really want the printed version.

I also think staffing the library with volunteers is another great idea. Yes, you will need to have some paid staff but the library can operate. Maybe the city and school could work something out and award 'elective' credits for students who do volunteer.

Submitted by Bonkers on Tue, 12/02/2008 - 9:23am.

What world is your thinking from?
The entry fees won't pay for the town employees overtime for cops and clean-up.
Yeah, charging the public is a great idea! The day is ABOUT EVERYBODY celebrating--not the few who can blow $25. Want to tell me how to catch the cheaters? Out of the woods and everywhere? You are not thinking.
So now it is required to have a computer and know how to operate it---old folks and all? Otherwise you get NO NEWS. Stupid.

Subscription fee? You might get 5!

And now to the library "volunteers." You want a few low-paying jobs eliminated, and allow a bunch of librarian want-to-Be people in there trying to keep everyone quiet?
Maybe it will work in the fire-department also? How about "volunteer" cops? Mayors, city Managers? Engineers?
Hey, not a bad idea after all for the depression coming!

Submitted by reader71 on Tue, 12/02/2008 - 4:22pm.

It's been my experience that volunteers do not want to work regular hours - and are picky about what they will and won't do. After all, they're not getting paid. It's fine to augment staff with volunteers, but not to the point of eliminating jobs. Quality will suffer.

Submitted by fluffybear on Tue, 12/02/2008 - 2:19pm.

I have seen larger library systems then this one operate quite fine with volunteers. Naturally, you would need to keep a full time paid employees on hand to supervise things but you really do not need to pay a dozen people to put books on a shelf.

As for the fireworks and parade, it was my understanding in speaking with a city official that a major portion of the costs associated with the event came from Parade entry fee's, vendor fee's, etc.. If you can show me otherwise then I'll be more then happy to listen to your argument but until then.. As for the reserved spaces, there is always room there to negotiate. The city could set-up a reserved section and charge $20. As you pointed out these events are suppose to be FOR EVERYONE to enjoy and I think this is a far better alternative then NOT having them at all.

The city newsletter, There is no reason the city can not have printed copies available at city hall. My question to you is how many people actually read that newsletter? I am guessing the costs associated with printing and mailing this newsletter out to exceed $30,000 a year. I see no reason why if you want the newsletter mailed you that you should not help defray the costs of postage. If $5.00 is to much for you then make it $1.00. That should be good for at least 3 mailings (considering bulk rates).

What is wrong with volunteers in the fire department and police force? You might find this hard to believe but volunteers have be assisting in Fire and Police Departments all over the world for years. The whole department can not be made up of volunteers but there is no reason volunteers can not be used to handle some of the lighter tasks.

The real point friend is that myself and other suggesting options are trying to come up with ways for the city to cut costs and it's a lot more then what you are doing!

Submitted by Nitpickers on Tue, 12/02/2008 - 7:43pm.

The "Citizen" would print a decent sized report for the people to read at little or no cost---the paper is free in your drive-way! The paper is fuzz on the peach for employees, just as a dog or helicopter is for the police!

Copies at city hall, you say? Who goes there?

There is quite a bit more to running a library than "putting books on shelves," although that part of it is usually done by simply trained people. Maintaining a library that is "up to current standards of content and service," requires some talent and effort. I would agree that you won't see any sweat break out from hard work on town employees of any kind.

Why don't you just build you a stand on the parade and firecracker route, pay for it, maintain it, and only you use it?

Submitted by fluffybear on Wed, 12/03/2008 - 8:08pm.

I can give the city a great way to make some additional revenue and spare many of these programs.
Just have a couple of police officers on Highway 54 in the afternoon giving tickets out to all the idiots who block the intersections. Shouldn't take to long for the city to make up the shortfall.

Submitted by skyspy on Mon, 12/01/2008 - 5:19pm.

We all have to cut back. Harold your campaign was based on how fiscally responsible you are....good job, now lets see more cuts.

Submitted by PTCGOIL on Mon, 12/01/2008 - 4:22pm.

This MUST include the tunnel cart paths that are at Paschall Rd. and Hwy. 74, surely.
Otherwise we still will have no means to get to the Hwy 54 bridge from the south side other than going down Huddleston/Dividend Dr. or going all the way up to the overpass bridge at Wisdom Rd. over Hwy. 74. Which also aggravates the Cedarcroft path problems by adding unnecessary traffic.

Mike King's picture
Submitted by Mike King on Mon, 12/01/2008 - 3:27pm.

$912,000.00 shortfall and now the city mulls cuts. Heaven forbid allowing the average citizen to recommend where such cuts are to be made. Looking forward to the next few years, are we not planning on a millage increase that will dwarf the previous five? And ain't it funny how the "City Officials" can find nearly a quarter million dollars to finish the bridge project that is now three years past due?

Try a novel idea for a change: For each successive year spend 5% less than the previous year without exceptions. Should doing so cause the stoppage of certain projects, so be it. Should it cause a lay off or two of city employees, hey it happens outside government so get over it!

Doing so would balance the budget inside twelve years and possibly eliminate the city's total debt.

Of course Mr Mayor and partner would never entertain such a commonsenseable type remedy especially with the tax increases we have slated for the next few years. What we do have is two new Council members who I believe will show their mettle and put a halt to the waste where and when they can. The actions taken regarding the city's finances will be of primary concern for next year's Mayoral Election.

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