PTC manager: more cuts coming

Fri, 02/06/2009 - 4:03pm
By: John Munford

Kedron ‘bubble’ draws citizen comments

PTC manager: more cuts coming

Discussion of the projected $3.5 million deficit in Peachtree City’s 2009-2010 budget dominated Thursday night’s City Council meeting.

City Hall was packed with a standing room only crowd as others sat directly on the floor.

City Manager Bernie McMullen laid out a list of proposed budget cuts and noted that he is still recommending the elimination of 23 landscaping positions in the public works and recreation departments, which would save a projected $840,000. Along with the cuts, McMullen said he also would be recommending “some kind of” a property tax increase.

And, he added, the cutting is not done.

McMullen said he met with a few employees recently who wondered why their department was being focused on for cuts.

“Being blunt what I told them is I’m not finished yet,” McMullen said “And unfortunately that’s the truth. I’m going to be looking at every single area. I have to.”

Much of the public comments on the budget cuts dealt with one city facility that has not yet been proposed for any cuts: the Kedron Aquatic Center.

McMullen said he is not yet recommending any cuts at Kedron, but he made a presentation on the costs to run the facility as an indoor pool during the winter months. After about $39,000 in revenue from users, it costs the city $162,000 a year to operate the pool as an indoor facility using the “bubble.” Also, the current bubble is 13 years old and may soon need to be replaced as the initial lifespan for it was deemed to be five years by the manufacturer, McMullen said.

McMullen said he looked at increasing charges on users such as high school, recreation and masters swim teams along with classes, pool passes, lessons and birthday parties. Such increases would bring in $97,000 but would still leave the city operating the facility at about a $100,000 deficit.

Mary Cartwright pointed out that when the Southern Crescent Aquatic Team had its tournament here, visitors stayed in local hotels and spent money in the city.

“You’re looking at revenue that has gone away,” Cartwright said, adding that recreation facilities are not supposed to be “a major moneymaker.”

Councilwoman Cyndi Plunkett replied that the problem is Peachtree City residents are paying for a facility that’s used by residents outside the city.

“The fees we get from five schools is $1,400,” said Mayor Harold Logsdon. “That has been woefully inadequate for years.”

Plunkett said she would not support any cuts to the city’s recreation programs because they play a role in improving public safety and citizens’ health “so for me those are non-negotiable.”

That comment drew widespread applause from the audience.

Councilman Don Haddix said he felt taxpayers should not be subsidizing 75 percent of the facility’s operations, which he argued is “too high.”

Logsdon said he agreed with Haddix on that point.

“Then we should close the library first because that’s 100 percent funded,” Plunkett said.

McMullen’s other budget cut proposals for the 2009-2010 budget include:

• Reducing staff levels in developmental services, particularly in the building department. Then, once the larger projects come back online, the city would contract out inspections.

• Eliminating all pay raises at a savings of $700,000;

• Doubling employee healthcare contributions for a savings of $120,000.

• Charging police and fire employees who live outside the city limits and take home city vehicles. This would add nearly $26,000 which would “offset part of the expenses” of vehicles taken outside the city.

• Eliminating all paid leave benefits to all regular part-time positions including annual leave, sick leave, safety hours, and holiday time (estimated savings: $45,000). Regular part time employees earn four hours per holiday and vacation time at half the rate of regular full-time employees. The majority of these employees are at the library. Non-regular part-time firefighters would continue to get 8 hours pay for any city holiday worked;

• Closing the Clover Reach and Pebblepocket pools (estimated savings $57,000). A private contractor has asked to continue using both pools for lessons “and a willingness to share expenses,” McMullen said, noting that option would be presented to City Council by its March 19 meeting;

• Possibly outsourcing the Kedron Fieldhouse and Aquatic Center (unknown savings). Several private individuals have said they can operate the facility at a considerable savings to the city, McMullen said, so a request for information and qualifications will be developed by city staff to determine if qualified firms are interested and how they would operate the complex. The goal would be to have a contract in place before the start of the 2010 fiscal year;

• Possibly consolidating the recreation and public works maintenance crews under public works (unknown savings); and

• Restructuring cardboard recycling managed by the city (approximately $24,000 in savings). City staff and Keep Peachtree City Beautiful are working to find a vendor that will haul it away at no cost. If not the service would be eliminated and residents could drop theirs off at the county transfer station or local solid waste haulers that also accept recyclables.

One commercial developer and a representative of a local remodeling company said they got incredible service from the city’s building department and they would hate to see contractors handle inspections, which could lead to delays and unhappy customers.

Local resident Jeanie Etheridge made a presentation to council on the budget issue and pointed out that the city used nearly $2 million of its cash reserves in the last two years to balance the budget. She noted there has been no millage rate increase for the past five years and questioned why the city “continued to spend more money when revenue sources have not increased.”

Etheridge suggested extending the replacement milage on city vehicles. She noted that the police department is projected to buy five more cars this year in addition to sport utility vehicles.

“We want to know how is that going to improve our protection,” Etheridge said.

Etheridge said the county should “kick in” for the approximate $60,000 cost for the annual July 4 fireworks.

Etheridge questioned why the job cuts were being suggested for this budget year if the budget problem is next year.

“We have until September to get this budget fixed,” Etheridge said.

Etheridge also noted the irony of the proposals to take away cost of living increases and cut jobs in the same year that raises to the City Council members are going into effect.

Resident Tim Lydell said the city’s budget should have drawn interest from residents during the public hearings that were held.

“If the rest of you were here at those meetings expressing your opinion at that point of time we might not be in the position we are in today,” Lydell said. “... We are a democracy. We get what we want in government if we actively participate. If we sit back at home and watch TV and don’t come to the public hearings then we deserve exactly what we’ve got here today.”

Lydell said council doesn’t have a choice to some degree as they must either cut jobs or raise taxes. The time for getting input from the public, at this point, is too late, he said.

login to post comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Submitted by MrBeef on Thu, 02/12/2009 - 11:59pm.

I keep reading this - McMullen said he is not yet recommending any cuts at Kedron.

That's funny because Kedron closes an hour earlier every night and two and a half hours earlier on Saturday's.

Of course I guess the bottom line will be that HE didn't recommend these cuts. But they are still cuts.

If they passed the elimination of part time benefits for paid holiday and annual leave at half the rate of full timers, ummmm, that would be a cut too for Kedron.

Submitted by nusport on Fri, 02/13/2009 - 6:16am.

Kedron Field House will begin opening one hour later on Monday, Feb 16.

Submitted by MrBeef on Fri, 02/13/2009 - 8:53am.

The only thing I know is that it is closing earlier, has been posted for a couple weeks that on the 16th, new hours are 9-8:30 monday thru friday and 9-6:30 on Saturday, sunday has not changed.

Submitted by nusport on Fri, 02/13/2009 - 9:06am.

Gym currently opens at 8:00 am on Saturday mornings. After Monday it will begin opening 1 hr later.

Submitted by Fight 4 right on Wed, 02/11/2009 - 10:56am.

I would like to know where the breakdown is that shows the city will save $840,000 by outsourcing. Does anyone know? Mr. Haddix, if you would care to produce this document, I'm sure a lot of people would be interested.

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Wed, 02/11/2009 - 11:03am.

Please email and request the information you want.

Don Haddix
PTC Councilman
Post 1

Submitted by dollaradayandno... on Tue, 02/10/2009 - 7:08pm.

What good are these advance threats?

Figure it out and make them!

You know already that next year's budget will be down at least 20%!

Make those cuts now!!!!!!!!!

Submitted by harrybolton on Tue, 02/10/2009 - 3:03pm.

In the discussion concerning Kedron Aquatic Center it was mentioned that $700,000.00 of the budget for the center came from the general fund However, no mention was made of the $2,492,044.00 that goes to the Recreation Department from the general fund (see FY 2009 Adopted Budget). Let's be fair; no one department should have to bare all the cost of balancing the budget. A balanced budget should consist of budget cuts by all departments, pay cuts for all employees, and a raise in fees and taxes. This is fair; this will prevent one or two groups from having to bare a disproportionate share of the cost of balancing the PTC budget.

Harry Bolton

Submitted by Fight 4 right on Wed, 02/11/2009 - 10:51am.

I agree with your analysis, but do you think it's fair to cut employees pay when the Mayor, City Council, and the city manager are the ones responsible for the current budget crisis? They need to increase revenue and stop wasting money-- like the trip to China!

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Wed, 02/11/2009 - 11:15am.

I agree we need to raise revenue. And that is why I took on DAPC in January 2008 when I came on Council.

It was not being utilized. Just on the shelf, so to speak. Now it is up, running and looking. Spent 6 hours with DAPC on a project Saturday.

They are working with the Chamber, Fayette County Development Authority and others in these endeavors.

This economy has made it very hard to go from zero to success. But most assuredly will keep on working.

All I can tell you is that building more houses and retail is not going solve these issues. I was not part of the creation but most assuredly intend to be part of the solution.

Any information on any economic resources to be looked at for PTC is welcome by me.

Don Haddix
PTC Councilman
Post 1

shadowalker's picture
Submitted by shadowalker on Tue, 02/10/2009 - 12:32pm.

I just can not get the comment out of my head that Mr stupid wants to raise taxes to home owners that are facing job layoffs, no pay rasies, lower home values,higher bills, and overall uncertianty for over all dollar value of anything and Mr stupid wants to raise property taxes. Dude listen to what is going on outside of your bubble town and see that the united states is imploding with the exception of the politicians. they are your relatives in Stupidville. you must stop raising taxes must stop giving yourself
rasies and perks, must stop some of the benifits that the community has for a time to catch up cut hrs and pay but not jobs all together
you put a bigger burden on the country.
Rasing taxes to cover a budget you knew would not work, that is your fault. I as a tax payer have no more blood to give I work and save for my layoff. which im sure is coming. Who is going to bail me out of the flood you are tossing me into.
stop mr stupid stop and think.


Submitted by BloodBike on Mon, 02/09/2009 - 10:48am.

I had a chance to move to Peachtree City this past summer. My family and I decided to move to Fayette County, but stayed out of Peachtree City. You all have a beutiful city and the community is tops, but after doing our research it became clear to us that you were either paying entirely to low a tax rate for what you had or you didn't have enough buisnesses inside the city to help with the tax base. The combination of these two things put up red flags. The community is really small, has great community programs, but they weren't properly funded. I'm so happy I bought a home in Fayette, with the pool so I don't have to deal with the uproar you are currently having.

I wish you guys luck with the current fiscal problems you are having.

Submitted by Spyglass on Mon, 02/09/2009 - 2:14pm.

And if you'll realize it or not, Fayette County benefits greatly from the facilities in PTC.

Submitted by BloodBike on Tue, 02/10/2009 - 2:16pm.

I understand that and to be honest PeachTree City should find ways to charge those residents outside the city for using the facilities. I would be for paying for those facilitites that I use, but I don't want to pay for those facilities I don't use. Anyway good luck.

Submitted by Spyglass on Tue, 02/10/2009 - 3:40pm.

yet we both have to pay. Smiling

Submitted by BloodBike on Wed, 02/11/2009 - 9:55am.

County or city?

DarkMadam's picture
Submitted by DarkMadam on Fri, 02/06/2009 - 7:48pm.

OK, Yes I was there and heard everything. But left with more questions than what I had came with. The City Manager, Council, and Mayor borrowed $2 million from their reserves to balance 2007 and 2008 budgets and now want to call the 2010 budget out of balance because of over spending in those years? Why not call the two previous years out of balance and make changes in their spending at that time? Looks to me that they created a huge deficit to pass along to a future council. The mayor said that he would address the questions that were posed in the presentation, but I want to know when he will answer them. One more thing, if we have until September of this year, why are our people and services being cut right now? That is 7 months away! It took them 2 years to create this deficit mess and want to fire hard working people and eliminate services to the citizens at this date. Turns out that everything they say about politicians IS true. Lots of lip service and no real community service! If you want to out source something - out source the council and mayor. At this point we couldn't do any worse.

Submitted by Spyglass on Fri, 02/06/2009 - 5:49pm.

Haddix said on here TIME after TIME that it costs $250,000 JUST to put the bubble up and down. Apparently, once again, mis-information flows from him.

sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Fri, 02/06/2009 - 6:10pm.

Spyglass, I know at one point former Mayor Steve Brown gave us a fairly detailed breakdown of the Kedron Pool budget, because I had questions about that 250K figure as well. He explained them to my satisfaction, but I can't seem to find it here on the Citizen.

Bottom line: a swimming pool will never ever pay for itself, and will always be a significant cost with regard to tax dollars.

Other notes: I can't believe Fayette schools are getting such a good deal from PTC. PTC taxpayers are subsidizing non-McIntosh swimmers.

Final note: Has there ever been a more feckless grandstanding politician than Plunkett? (okay besides Dan Tennant)
Palin-Nugent 2012

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Fri, 02/06/2009 - 6:03pm.

$201,000 plus amortizing the new bubble is $256,xxx. I went with $250,000 as a easy number to use.

Again, no misinformation.

Don Haddix
PTC Councilman
Post 1

Submitted by Spyglass on Sat, 02/07/2009 - 12:43pm.

Not even close. It's in this paper for anyone who wants to see it. One of the dangers of coming here and spouting off on numbers that obviously you aren't very familiar with.

Submitted by MrBeef on Fri, 02/06/2009 - 8:17pm.

The article states $162,000 to run the pool in the Winter, you choose to add back in the revenue produced in the Winter to make the cost $201,000. Then you add in $55,000 amortizing the NEW bubble, how exactly does that work? The bubble had a 5 year life span and we are on year 14? So we should be on our 3rd bubble and we have maintained and made the original one last, so I don't get where you add $55,000 a year to the winter cost to have the pool open.

If you are able to up fees to schools and teams and even the daily use and passes, maybe even classes to make up more ground, the Winter usage cost would drop even lower then the $162,000, or even with more revenue, would you add it back in and state the winter cost to be $250,000 to run the pool.

And, it also was misinformation, YOU stated that it cost $250,000 a year to put the bubble up and take it down, you did not state that $250,000 was the cost of running the pool.

Submitted by Fight 4 right on Wed, 02/11/2009 - 11:06am.

In addition, the council does not take into consideration the loss of revenue due to the condition of the Bubble-- not to mention the increased cost to operate the pools in the winter due to the condition of the Bubble. I would love to see a cost analysis of the Bubbles' first year vs. current year.

DarkMadam's picture
Submitted by DarkMadam on Mon, 02/09/2009 - 5:21pm.

We sure could have used you at the meeting last Thursday! Would you consider showing up and speaking on the 19th when our city council and mayor will be taking a vote amongst themselves to fire 25 people?

Spear Road Guy's picture
Submitted by Spear Road Guy on Fri, 02/06/2009 - 5:14pm.

No, Mr. Lydell, we are a republican democracy. And please don't blame the average citizen for the City Council's financial mismanagement!!! After all, we didn't force Logsdon to fly to China with his business partner the city manager.

Vote Republican

ManofGreatLogic's picture
Submitted by ManofGreatLogic on Sun, 02/08/2009 - 7:13pm.

How long are you going to have the signature: vote republican, and still complain about the Republicans you all vote for?

You so-called conservatives love the big spending when it comes to war and tax cuts for the rich (which isn't you, by the way), but then you whine when the local government does the same thing.

So, just who do you think is NOT Republican on the City council or the mayor's office? Name one. You can't. Sorry, but these inept politicians ARE Republicans, and that is precisely the reason our city is facing a deficit. The same goes for the county and our nation. Bush spent more money during his presidency than ALL OTHER PRESIDENTS COMBINED.

It's a common myth that the Democrats are "tax and spend." It's the so-called conservatives who are tax and spend, but they've thrown out the smokescreen for so long that they have you guys convinced that Republicans are fiscally conservative. Name ONE fiscally conservative Republican other than Dave Ramsey and Ron Paul.

Boneheads! You boneheads got the government you deserved. You got rid of Steve Brown because he called a Christmas Tree a Holiday Tree.

So you voted for Logsden. Now you are reaping precisely what you sowed.

Deal with it. You actually do deserve this.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.