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PTC staff forecasts 38% tax increase in 4 years

Peachtree City’s financial staff foresees gulp-inducing property tax increases to help balance the city’s budget for the next four years — a 38 percent jump in city taxes.

Looking ahead to budgets for the next four years, city staff is figuring in a series of city property tax increases: 0.269 mill for Fiscal Year 2011, 0.6 mill for FY 2012, 1 mill for FY 2013 and 0.25 mill for FY 2014.

That’s a total tax increase of 2.119 mills over four years. The current city millage rate is 5.533. It would top out in FY 2014 at 7.652, according to staff documents.

Yearly increases would be 5.2 percent next year (beginning Oct. 1, 2010), 11.1 percent in FY 2012, 16.7 percent in FY 2013, and 3.6 percent in FY 2014, the city projections state.

These figures are model projections only from city staff and have not been approved by the City Council. They will have their first public discussions on the matter this Friday and Saturday.

Staff projects an increase in the city budget from $25.981 million this year to a new top of $29.881 million in FY 2014, according to the model projections.

First on the agenda is plugging the gaps in this year’s city budget and figuring out how to balance next fiscal year’s budget.

“Considering all over/under amounts for revenue projections, staff currently projects a net revenue shortfall of $621,674” for this fiscal year, according to city staff documents prepared for the retreat. That’s for a new projected FY 2010 budget of $26.5 million.

Even with the expected shortfall, city staff projects the city will end FY 2010 Sept. 30 with a 34 percent cash reserve, a percentage many local governments would envy.

To address the shortage, the “city manager has instructed all directors and chiefs to identify 2.5 percent of their divisions’ budget for possible cuts,” the city staff documents say.

The worst shortfall in the budget: recreation program fees, down by $200,000 from expectations, the city documents show.

Other areas to be discussed at the retreat:

The most recent monthly average home sales price in Peachtree City was $327,625 for single-family homes and $210,000 for townhomes and condominiums, according to a city study.

The average monthly price has yo-yo’ed over the past 18 months, the study shows, with the low point of $250,000 having been reached in December 2008 and January 2009.

On the retail side of the equation, Peachtree City’s vacancy rate so far in 2010 is 11 percent of available retail space, down from 13 percent for 2009 and up from a rate of 7 percent in 2008, the city study shows.

Out of 1.91 million square feet of available retail space inside Peachtree City, 218,054 square feet are vacant, the study shows.

The two oldest village shopping centers are suffering the most from the economic downturn, the study shows. Hardest hit is Glenloch Village with a 48 percent vacancy rate. Next is Aberdeen Village with a vacancy rate of 22 percent.

In the city’s industrial park, nearly 47 percent of the available space is empty, according to the city study. The city has more than 1.4 million square feet of industrial buildings, with 678,281 square feet empty.

The bulk of that empty space is represented by the two tracts formerly occupied by the now defunct PhotoCircuits company, once one of the county’s largest private employers. The empty PhotoCircuits buildings are 318,000 square feet of the total, the city study shows.

The city still has 473.23 acres of empty industrially zoned land available, same as last year, the study shows.

The city staff is urging the City Council to “revisit what defines village center and neighborhood center and incorporate ‘new vision’ into [Peachtree City’s] comprehensive plan.”

In a document called “Re-imaging the Village,” Interim Community development Director David Rast suggests doing away with the distinctive village signs and re-branding each village with more contemporary logos.

[Source documents for this story are on the city's website.]

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