New PTC mayor, council must focus on attracting new businesses

Tue, 11/24/2009 - 4:29pm
By: Letters to the ...

This election cycle for Peachtree City’s mayor and City Council posts have focused on taxes, budgets, services and land use as being the primary areas of debate. Other issues were debated but with less intensity.

One topic that was not debated or discussed much, if at all it seems, was property values. Our local property values will be affected, positively or negatively, by the new mayor and City Council’s decisions.

Peachtree City is more than just another generic suburban community with the usual and expected services and amenities. Peachtree City is one of the top places to live in the U.S. We have a unique city plan which Peachtree City was to be built around.

That plan called for a combination of residential, commercial and business entities that would provide a diverse, vibrant and somewhat self-sustaining community; be a local source of jobs and revenue, provide shopping and leisure activities; in short, to make Peachtree City a true town instead of just another run-of-the-mill suburban community.

The city plan called for a grid of multi-use paths (golf cart paths) to provide both recreational and alternative transportation capabilities for our residents; quality sports and recreational facilities for children, adults and senior citizens which, again, facilitates a town atmosphere for all ages of people versus a suburban community that is heavily weighted toward one age demographic.

All these things were and are part of Peachtree City’s property values and were priced into our homes when we purchased them. For comparison, take your house and go price it in neighboring areas outside of Peachtree City to see just how much it would be worth.

If Peachtree City’s services, infrastructure and amenities are cut back or eliminated, our property values will be adversely effected. For many people, our family included, our house is a major investment and asset for us that we want to protect, as well as, the quality and uniqueness of life here.

I believe that through good city management we can continue to improve the cost structure of our services without reducing their quality.

However, there are two components to the budget: cost control and revenue growth. So far, cost control has dominated the discussions. I believe the main focus of Peachtree City’s budget issues needs to be on the revenue side and specifically, on how to optimally grow our revenues.

Where do our revenues come from? Homeowner property taxes are one source. I am a firm proponent of low taxes and believe that any taxing authority must get the approval of the voters concerning any changes to the property tax structure such as direct tax hikes and stealth tax hikes known as “cash reserves.”

To this point, how did the existing Peachtree City cash reserves, which were supposed to be at 20 percent of the budget level, expand to 36 percent of the budget level?

My understanding was that the 20 percent cash reserve figure was the initial agreed-upon amount by the Peachtree City government a few years ago. Who asked the taxpayers for their opinion on paying additional taxes to increase Peachtree City’s cash reserve target from 20 percent to 36 percent in the first place?

Before anyone proposes decreasing services or raising our taxes, use these excess cash reserves over the 20 percent amount which we, the taxpayers of Peachtree City, have already paid for.

The two other entities of Peachtree City’s tax revenues that need to be analyzed are commercial enterprises and businesses. Commercial enterprises (stores and restaurants) provide Peachtree City tax revenue and jobs. Their ability to stay in business in order to provide jobs and pay tax revenue is contingent on the money spent with them by the people who live here.

Also, if these are not the right kind of stores and restaurants that the residents of Peachtree City want, they will simply travel outside of Peachtree City for their shopping and restaurant needs. This, of course, will lead to stores and restaurants closing and Peachtree City tax revenue and jobs going away.

The new mayor and City Council need to facilitate and promote the right kind of stores and restaurants to locate in Peachtree City.

The other source of revenue for Peachtree City comes from businesses located here, mainly in the industrial parks. I know I am stating the obvious, but businesses provide tax revenue, jobs and money from those jobs that is spent in Peachtree City.

What has been the rate of business growth or decline in Peachtree City over the past few years? What would Peachtree City’s financial picture look like if the number of businesses located here were double or triple from what is is today?

First of all, we would have more jobs and money coming into Peachtree City. That money coming into Peachtree City, in addition to increasing our tax revenues, would have a percentage of it spent in our stores and restaurants.

Secondly, we would actually be realizing a key component of Peachtree City’s master plan by having this be a vibrant place to live and work.

I do believe that we need a lot more businesses located in Peachtree City, and that is the responsibility of the City Council and, especially, the mayor to take responsibility for this.

The mayor of Peachtree City needs to be our number one business development salesman or saleswoman, and if he or she is unable to do that, then they are not mayoral material. The City Council also needs to be measured on business development.

To be honest, adding up the existing tax revenue numbers and determining which areas the tax revenues will be spent on is an important task for the mayor and the City Council, but that will not optimally grow our tax revenues, jobs and money coming into Peachtree City — which is what we need.

Should the mayor and City Council have a growth objective placed on them every year of 5 percent or 10 percent of business revenue and jobs coming into Peachtree City? If Peachtree City’s business revenue and jobs grew 5 percent every year for the next four years, how would that benefit Peachtree City’s ability to pay for our services, infrastructure and amenities through increased tax revenues and jobs? How would this ability to better pay for these services, infrastructure and amenities affect our home values?

The new mayor must be able to sell Peachtree City to businesses and grow jobs and business tax revenues here. Can either Cyndi Plunkett or Don Haddix be Peachtree City’s top business development salesman or saleswoman and achieve these job and revenue growth objectives?

The City Council must be pro business and facilitate business and jobs growth in Peachtree City. Which of those running for City Council are best able to do this?

Who would be a better mayor when it comes to growing our home values? Who would be better city council members when it comes to growing our home values?

Steve Allen

Peachtree City, Ga.

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mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Wed, 11/25/2009 - 7:40am.

Seriously Steve, you raise many good points and those should most certainly be taken to heart my our new mayor and council. The personal sniping of the campaign will hopefully end and the more serious issues will be addressed.

2 things
Yes, I absolutely agree that the amenities of PTC increase our home values. The open space, recreational amenities, the cart paths especially and oddly, even the fact that we are an incorporated city instead of huge HOA - all adds value to each and every home here. And yes, we need to stick to the plan and not waver at all.

Yes and no, on the growth objectives for elected officials. My first reactions was - Wow - great idea. Measureable goals for elected officials. Just like private business. Then I realized these political animals would only do what would make them look good and I could envision growth goals being met and the land use plan modified to accomodated someone's idea of appropriate growth to meet goals. I don't trust any of them enough for that.

We also need more people like you taking an interest in government - possibly running for office. I also repeat that to Shelby Barker and Scott Rowland.

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