Pullias: Taxes not automatically bad, but there has to be trust by voters

Tue, 11/10/2009 - 3:35pm
By: Letters to the ...

I want to thank all who voted for me last week. I look forward to your continued support in the runoff election on Dec. 1 or during advanced voting Nov. 23-25. Remember that every single vote counts, especially in a runoff when so many people don’t bother to vote.

I want to make my stand on taxes very clear. As you know, our taxes pay for decent roads, our cart paths, the library, recreation, public safety and other things that maintain our excellent quality of life. They can be a good thing.

The issue on taxes is trust. Citizens will only feel good about taxes when they trust their local officials to keep taxes as low as possible and to be frugal and responsible with taxpayer money and land use.

Right now, citizens don’t trust the Peachtree City Council. Elected officials need to listen and work to restore that trust in local government. They need to treat tax revenue and the city’s budget with the care they would if it was their own personal bank account.

If you see your local taxes not being managed well, you need to be able to call your elected official.

If they continue to mismanage, vote them out; they are not doing their job. Making poor decisions with our tax money is unacceptable. By evaluating and justifying every expense while still maintaining the services that set us apart, we are doing our job.

In PTC we have excellent city staff. Many people do not realize this. I have listened over the last three years, and the advice of our city staff with regard to budgeting has been good.

Council has made some poor choices that went against this advice and made us far too dependent on other revenue sources such as the SPLOST to run our city. This dependency accounts for much of our current financial woes.

Take the recent SPLOST vote. I voted for the SPLOST, not because I did not see its flaws, but because Peachtree City was in a position of dependency to need those funds for our cart paths and road improvements, or they simply would not get done without a significant millage increase.

What the county decided to do with that money was up to them, but our city needs those funds. Although a countywide issue, voters’ recent overwhelming decision on the SPLOST referendum made a powerful statement against fiscal irresponsibility in local government, a lack of trust.

Voters clearly did not want the West Fayetteville Bypass. That project is almost twice the entire Peachtree City budget, and has many flaws.

We are still in a recession. Sales tax revenue is down, property tax revenue is down, poor fiscal choices were made and the SPLOST did not pass. These are the facts. Peachtree City is not immune to revenue shortfalls. So what are we going to do now?

I opposed using the reserve funds to balance the 2010 budget because a sizable portion of those funds are in jeopardy anyway if the economy stays down. That was, and still is not the solution.

No one wants to sacrifice our uniqueness because we are in an economic downturn. Now, does this mean we cut nothing and just resolve ourselves to raise taxes? Of course not. But we also need to stop being shortsighted. We do not sell our streets to developers or our parks to cellphone towers, or cut up our land use plan to generate sales tax revenue.

I propose that we consider temporarily raising recreation fees; we cut out some of our special events until the economy bounces back; and in light of the recent vote, we should ask the county to reallocate the West Fayetteville Bypass SPLOST funds to cover road and cart path projects we really do need in the county. The citizens have spoken and we as officials need to listen and act accordingly.

Peachtree City could really use some of that $50 million for our cart paths and road improvements, as could the other cities and the county. The money is already in the bank; it should be used in a practical way on things that are essential to keeping the city functioning like road and path repair.

It would not cost the Fayette County taxpayers another dime and this move would help restore trust in government decision-making.

Peachtree City also has a road that needs to be completed in its West Village. But it has been stalled due to legal issues. Wouldn’t it be a perfect use for some of that $50 million to finish MacDuff Parkway? It would also reduce the proclaimed need for such density in Wilksmoor. It would lay the perfect groundwork for getting a better plan.

Another SPLOST referendum next year is NOT the solution. We need to re-evaluate our priorities, listen to our constituents and use the funds we have now, due to be misspent on the bypass.

The road improvements that this money does not cover can wait until the economy picks up. The taxpayers are not going to vote through another SPLOST until they regain the trust in local government. We need to establish that trust first.

By electing me, you will be electing someone whose values match your own. I will listen to you and use your tax dollars in a manner that reflects those values. I have heard you, and will push to adjust accordingly.

Use your right to vote on Dec. 1. I am asking for your support on creating a budget that is efficient, making land use decisions that reflect our city’s values, and establishing your trust by also pushing to reallocate the bypass monies to reflect the real needs, thereby minimizing the need for a city millage increase.

To get elected, it is tempting and easy to promise no tax increase. In my case, to get elected is to have earned your trust that I will be your advocate.

A vote for me is a vote for someone with a proven commitment to you. This commitment includes spending your tax dollars efficiently and responsibly, as you would.

Beth Pullias

PTC Council Candidate Post 1


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mapleleaf's picture
Submitted by mapleleaf on Thu, 11/12/2009 - 6:49am.

Brutal honesty is how I would describe the admission by Beth Pullias that she voted for SPLOST.

But the emphasis should be on the word brutal.

When you vote for SPLOST, you vote to raise your own tax. Sometimes that can be commendable selflessness. But in the process you also vote to raise your neighbors' taxes, and in our economic circumstances today that shows indifference and heartlessness.

It is true we need honest people in politics. But there are additional qualities we must look for. Compassion and understanding might be two of them.

Submitted by Spyglass on Thu, 11/12/2009 - 8:19am.

If you live in PTC, your taxes are going up, especially with Splost defeated...more than likely, they'll go up a good bit more than they would have with the Splost money in place....as now NO ONE that comes into the city that is not a city taxpayer will contribute.

That said, Splost lost, and that's the way it is.

Submitted by PTC Observer on Wed, 11/11/2009 - 3:47pm.

We have never met, but I have read your positions on the issues.

I voted for you and will again on December 1st.

One of the things I like about you is that you appear to be honest about taxes.

As you point out, taxes are payments that we make in return for service. If service is bad we don't like paying taxes. The closer taxes are tied to the service provided the better they become. I voted against the SPLOST because this type of tax does not directly tie to specific services provided. Additionally, sales taxes require those that do not benefit from a service to pay for them anyway. This is fundementally unfair.

You are correct, taxes are required to run the government, just don't forget once you are in office that you are working for us, using our money to provide services to us, and you need to to it effectively. Or we will simply fire you like we will fire Ms. Plunkett on December 1st.

Thank you for running, you're the type of citizen we need in government.

SPQR's picture
Submitted by SPQR on Wed, 11/11/2009 - 10:23am.

Beth Pulias. Why would you bring up your support for the SPLOST after it was soundly trounced? This clearly says that you disagree with the majority of folks in the county and yet you seek their votes.

grassroots's picture
Submitted by grassroots on Wed, 11/11/2009 - 12:20am.

The county commissioners can and will reconsider several ways to better use that $50M
WFB taxpayer money if the citizens, we the people, demand it. Can you imagine rolling out a list as long as theirs? What should now be done with the money when they capitulate and do the right thing? Leave your ideas here:

della's picture
Submitted by della on Tue, 11/10/2009 - 11:53pm.

This is an unbelievable diatribe of submitting to tax and more tax without a hint of cutting, delaying, finding waste or living within our means. It sounds more like the education bond where they took the easy way out and bamboozled us into a huge tax increase without trying to look for alternative solutions. Anyone can provide services with taxes. Its clear you have absolutely no experience with budgeting for anything outside a household grocery list. You cannot say please and ask the SPLOST, if it was passed, to change where the money goes. Its an unbelievable statement to say what the county decides to do with that money is up to them. To take the easy way out and simply raise recreation fees (aka tax like feature) is again giving up. I'm sorry but its painfully obvious you have absolutely no experience with budgets. I will not roll the dice and “hope” you gain the experience on the job.

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