PTC prepping $1.5M budget cut

Fri, 12/05/2008 - 3:53pm
By: John Munford

$910K shortfall predicted due to economy; less spending leads to lower sales tax revenue

A plan to cut a total of $1.53 million from this year’s Peachtree City budget met with very minor changes suggested by the City Council at a workshop Tuesday night.

The cuts proposed by city staff include a reduction of $886,000 from departmental budgets and another $290,000 in cancelled projects and equipment purchases. The city is also saving $360,000 by delaying some equipment purchases until the end of the year to save on the debt service payments.

City officials cautioned these cuts are only the beginning, as an estimated $3 million will need to be trimmed from next year’s budget in order to avoid a property tax increase. The cuts are expected to be up for a formal council vote at its meeting December 18.

The budget cuts are a response to a projected $910,000 shortfall in this year’s budget due to shrinking revenues, particularly in sales taxes as locals are spending less due to the shaky economy.

City Manager Bernie McMullen said the changes do not reflect any staffing cuts for public safety. A line item that reduced overtime in the police budget was actually money set aside to have an third officer during all city court sessions for security, McMullen said.

But that officer is only needed on the days arraignments are held, McMullen said. The officer will not be needed on days regular court is held because there will be other officers present for cases, McMullen said.

The city is also expecting to be short $200,000 this year in revenues from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for transportation projects, meaning some will have to be postponed, McMullen said.

The city is also grappling with a $350,000 reduction in projected revenue for impact fees. Much of that was due to a large development for senior residents, Somerby at Peachtree City, being put on hold indefinitely, officials said.

The impact fee shortfall will be covered by contingency funds that were lingering in accounts for a few unfinished projects from previous years’ budgets, said City Finance Director Paul Salvatore.

Among the budget cuts are reduced operating hours at the city’s library and the Kedron Fieldhouse/Aquatic Center. Councilwoman Cyndi Plunkett suggested the city avoid closing on Sundays since it’s the only nearby library that is open that day and does a brisk business according to city data. Leisure Services Director Randy Gaddo said staff would look at other options including perhaps opening an hour later in the mornings during the week.

Staff was also asked to consider closing the Kedron recreation facility when its lowest usage times are to have less of an impact on residents.

The plans include closing the Clover Reach pool and there was also discussion of closing the Pebblepocket pool this summer as well.

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

- $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

- Over $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.

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Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Sun, 12/07/2008 - 11:18am.

Some information on some of the concerns I see expressed on this topic. Please look here.

This is a big issue and its impact on homes is of concern to me.

Don Haddix
PTC Councilman
Post 1

Submitted by luvnptc on Sun, 12/07/2008 - 9:40am.

I love this city. But I'll be honest with you... we seriously need new leadership. I really don't know any where I would rather live and raise my children, but this has got to stop. The pompous attitude that we deal with from the top is a joke. I am a broke single mother raising a bunch of children and badly need a future that makes sense, and we are worried about washing government cars? Seriously? I'LL DO IT! Five bucks a vehicle... or better yet, my kids will volunteer for Beta club hours or simply to benefit this community. How about a raise money effort like the churches do? I don't know, it's exhausting to live in such a special community with such petty problems. Money could be spent (and saved) in such better ways.

Submitted by jeep2 on Sat, 12/06/2008 - 11:47pm.

We are facing 1.5 million in budget cuts and yet council approves a 1.2 million budget for "tourism"? Mr. Mayor and Council....where are your priorities?? They do not lie in the best interests of our citizens.
Mr. McMullen states that "the changes do not reflect any staffing cuts for public safety". However, there are several cuts that effect public safety; such as overtime pay for the police (and assuming fire well). How can we justify uniform cuts for the police?? Patrol car washing? Let the people having to perform community service do that. Shabbily clad police officers driving dirty patrol cars do not instill a sense of security and professionalism to the public. Not to mention morale for the officers.
This is a disgrace. Lets give our officers and firefighters the money,technology and equipment needed to perform their jobs safely.

cowtipn's picture
Submitted by cowtipn on Mon, 12/08/2008 - 4:19pm.

I've always had to pay for my uniforms wherever I've worked.

Submitted by FayetteFlyer on Sun, 12/07/2008 - 1:24pm.

How much revenue can actually be attributed from tourism in PTC? I just can't imagine it warrants a budget of this amount!

Git Real's picture
Submitted by Git Real on Sun, 12/07/2008 - 12:58pm.

We are facing 1.5 million in budget cuts and yet council approves a 1.2 million budget for "tourism"?

Well....PTC is unquestionably a great place to live. But to visit as a tourist? Sheesh.... Jeep has got a point there guys. But, that's gumament for ya!

Submitted by skyspy on Sun, 12/07/2008 - 6:11pm.

Actually a few of my parents friends had winter homes here. They got sick of dealing with the vandalism and being cussed daily on the cart paths by the "thug angels" here. They got out quickly to more peaceful digs. Never buy a home on the path system. They were smart they got out before the housing meltdown. They were sold on this town until they actually moved here, and realized they needed a peaceful place to enjoy retirement.

This actually used to be a nice quiet town.

Submitted by Spyglass on Sun, 12/07/2008 - 10:35pm.

The sky has already fallen.

I've yet to have trouble on the paths, and I'm on them daily. Usually things aren't a bad as you think, or as good as you hear.

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Sun, 12/07/2008 - 4:12pm.

Guys, please read the attachment in the link I posted. It isn't $1.2 million and there are some State laws on Hotel/Motel Tax at work here.

And Tourism does more than attract tourists. It also works to attract conventions, retreats and will, which I have required of both, work with DAPC to help attract new employers. DAPC pushing the work related side and Tourism pushing the quality of life side.

Also adding the Airport to that joint effort mix, which gets a fund transfer from Tourism.

Doug and I are stirring a lot of pots here. But we are only two of five and sometimes it is a real uphill battle to get places.

A lot of challenges on many fronts in 2009.

Same will be true in Fayetteville, Tyrone and Fayette County. Challenges ahead for them as well.

I know Git Real lives in the county. So you will have plenty of home front issues to get into there as well.

Don Haddix
PTC Councilman
Post 1

Submitted by skyspy on Sun, 12/07/2008 - 6:27pm.

We do have many challenges to meet.

Let's not provoke Git Real lest he spill his secrets in public. He is a well respected buisnessman here.

Now, let's slash the budget starting with any assistants to the city manager(who is grossly over-paid for a small city). As long as he isn't working on flipping homes on city time he should not need an assistant to manage a small city. Cut the fireworks, we get nothing for it, and every town around us is getting a free show, we get all of the traffic. Let someone else take a turn.

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Sun, 12/07/2008 - 7:06pm.

I would never push or cause Git Real's secrets to be revealed. Ever. A total taboo for me to out anyone.

We are not finished on cuts. Just understand some have to wait until next year, for various reasons, and others are delayed for other reasons.

As for the business partnership of the Mayor and City Manager, I will only say it is not illegal or against Ethics Laws and I am not aware of any issues of doing work on City time.

The fireworks are a sensitive issue. On one hand they cost money. On the other they are such a tradition and part of our national and local psyche, so, do we gain or lose more by cutting them?

I love to save money, but killing 4th of July? I am struggling with the notion of that being a good move.

To be honest, I have only seen that idea put forward here, on the blog, and I believe in one email to Council.

I just do not see any momentum or desire behind that notion. To be honest, even from my own family.

If you ever want to sit down somewhere and discuss these and other I issues, I would enjoy that. You can contact me via

Don Haddix
PTC Councilman
Post 1

Submitted by Spyglass on Sun, 12/07/2008 - 10:34pm.

Sooner or later, you have to make a stand on the things that make PTC special. Might as well plow up the cart paths.

Git Real's picture
Submitted by Git Real on Sun, 12/07/2008 - 7:08pm.

If you ever want to sit down somewhere and discuss these and other I issues, I would enjoy that. You can contact me via Smiling

Oh..and Git's already been outed and threatened several times already. He really doesn't give a flying rip anymore.

Git Real's picture
Submitted by Git Real on Sun, 12/07/2008 - 5:06pm.

But, I'll pass and just say that it's amazing as to how politicians justify excessive spending programs. Your Tourism budget is a great place to whittle some dollar savings. But, of course that matters not from someone who lives "in the county". What a Guy you are.

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Sun, 12/07/2008 - 6:43pm.

If you think the political game playing you see is bad, get elected to something. Then you see it in prime time action, from every level of government with which you have to deal.

Doug and I spend a lot of time annoyed with it.

State and Federal agencies are very territorial, whether it makes sense or not.

By State Law, 40% of Hotel/Motel has to be spent on Tourism. No option. To change that requires the State Legislature to do the change, we cannot.

H/M is $606,019 into Tourism. Another 200+ goes to a brick and mortal loan in the PTC budget. Tourism transfers $121,204.00 to the Airport.

The Tennis Center is not out from under Tourism yet. Then we will be looking at a redo of both budgets, but we can never reduce it to lower than 40% of the total H/M Tax by law, so about $400,000 will always be in the Tourism budget.

Doug and I wanted to sell it to get rid of a significant amount of expenditures. We don't have the votes at this time.

We pulled the Fred out already and that is restructuring now. It was in very bad shape.

I also believe there is more cutting to do in Rec. Changes in Public Works are moving forward as well.

I am not trying to justify anything wasteful. Absolutely inefficiencies built up in the PTC budget and government over the years.

Sorry, but everything cannot be fixed in the 12 months Doug and I have been in office. Seems to take a mountain of permits, reviews and procedures, by State and Federal governments, to get the simplest things accomplished. Also takes three votes on Council on a lot of issues.

We have been pushing to move our election promises forward, a novel idea, I agree. But we often run out of Staff to work on them in a timely manner. And some things have just been ignored for years, so we have to prioritize what we push forward when.

Enough said, enjoy the County living.

Don Haddix
PTC Councilman
Post 1

Git Real's picture
Submitted by Git Real on Sun, 12/07/2008 - 6:59pm.

Enough said, enjoy the County living

Well Donnie Guy,

So in your eyes us lowly Fayette Countians are considered not part of your PTC community at all even though we attend many of the same schools, shop, work, edumacate your chilrens, service your infrastructure, run businesses there, etc.? Shoot I didn't realize you looked down on the likes of me so much. Gosh... I certainly hope you don't put up gates to keep us Fayette Countians out or we just might starve to death. I see you're still as arrogant as ever. Don't forget to turn your nose down when it rains lest you drowned.

Personally if I were you I'd be very grateful for the massive amounts of monies us lowly county slobs poor into our community in which they call PTC.

The Wedge's picture
Submitted by The Wedge on Mon, 12/08/2008 - 8:45am.

You are going to get upset when you use the fact that you live in "the county" and not PTC in your posts and someone acknowledges it in a closing comment that is not controversial that you enjoy the county living to which you consistently allude? It is an interesting exchange where Haddix cites law as to the tourism budget that counterdicts what you suggest. Instead of saying "thank you very much" for the information and going after different points, you choose to take offense at the closing salutation of no great import? Weak man, weak.

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Mon, 12/08/2008 - 10:24am.

You are correct. I sincerely meant enjoy his country home and living. Nothing wrong with country living. No slap or anything negative intended in any way.

Yes, there is more than meets the eye, on both sides.

But there were two posts about Tourism where the posters obviously did not know all the facts. I was just trying to provide data, nothing more.

Don Haddix
PTC Councilman
Post 1

Git Real's picture
Submitted by Git Real on Mon, 12/08/2008 - 10:40am.

Oh how I love it. Come on Don... we both know what you meant.

Yes, there is more than meets the eye, on both sides.

If you ever feel froggy just jump. I'd love to view "your side". Thank God I finally recovered from "your side". Anyways... you ain't gittin' the last word on this one. You'd do well to just drop it. But, if you wish to continue.... I'll play. Smiling

Git Real's picture
Submitted by Git Real on Mon, 12/08/2008 - 9:06am.

I read his explanation. Had no problem with it. I merely responded to the girly slap he launched in regards to me being a mere "in the county" peasant. There's more than meets the eye here and more that you are not privy to. So butt out on this one and come after me on another one. I suspect I'm going to enjoy being a target of yours.

The Wedge's picture
Submitted by The Wedge on Mon, 12/08/2008 - 10:57am.

I enjoy your intellectual veerings. I assume that you are a populist.
I will come after you if I think you wrong, Like throwing bombs at Westmoreland over a supposed vote that you labeled incorrectly or wringing your hands over a self-professed gang banger. I enjoy my life, thank you very much, Git. And I hope that you do the same with yours.

Git Real's picture
Submitted by Git Real on Mon, 12/08/2008 - 11:22am.

Well.... err... I've been called worse by better I suppose. Puzzled

bombs at Westmoreland

Come on Wedge. The only explosions around your buddy Westmoreland is when handed a grenade he pulls the pin, juggles his bomb and then shouts out: "Hey Guys...Watch This!"

"wringing your hands ove a self-professed gang banger

Yup...that's me Wedge. Defender of thugs and hooligans. Guess I've been known for that. Eye-wink

The Wedge's picture
Submitted by The Wedge on Mon, 12/08/2008 - 3:43pm.

I will defer to your own character sketch.

Westmoreland isn't my guy, but he is a close to a conservative as I found on the ballot. Pickings are slim

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