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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.]



idk_revisited's picture

Really Cal? I can recall it's the same story the City has presented every year for Lord knows how long....every year they say the same things about future years increases, every year Council doesn't raise taxes, pushing it down the road.

Let's see if anything changes this year.

And how much of Glenloch Village's 48% vacancy rate is the Baby Kroger?

Way to scare the uninformed! Why not let them know where they can see these documents or participate in the discussion? Wouldn't that be a public service?

Cal Beverly's picture

Raise taxes or cut expenses, or both — no other choices likely in this economy.

Let's examine the "cut expenses" part. Personnel expenses are top of the list in city expenses.

Nowhere in the 500-plus pages provided by staff is any indication of actual staff cuts proposed or contemplated. Would idk recommend staff cuts? I would.

Likely outcome: some tax increase, some staff cuts, draw-down of 34% reserves, sacred cows screaming, special interest predictions of PTC's doomed lifestyle, etc., etc.

The city document only included the total vacancy rate per commercial center. So your guess of Baby Kroger may be more informed than the city document reveals. Or not.

Scare? How would you characterize the retreat packet: Full of bureaucratic pipe dreams, as you suggest? I give them a little more credit than that. I take the staff recommendation at face value, as a serious reflection of senior city staffers' professional opinion. Do you have a different perspective on the news value of city staff opinions?

Thus I report what the staff actually recommends and presents to City Council in a publicly posted official document. What (and how) do you know more or differently than that?

Any breaking news from you worth repeating?

Cal Beverly
The Citizen
Fayetteville, Ga. 30214

idk_revisited's picture

Phrases like "gulp-producing" aren't objective. Putting this as "breaking news" seems to be a way to produce a specific response from your readers, feeding the blogs and lending further credence to a subconscious stereotype that "government's out to get you again" by raising your taxes, when in fact that isn't the final outcome at all - nowhere close. If your goal is to get people informed about the process, why not tell them where they can go to get this information or speak out about it? If your goal is to just feed the sharks, then mission accomplished.

I'm much more of a fan of CSPAN than I am of the news, but I have no other way to get OTHER local information than your paper and the official websites (which are often poor for actual information) - for that you can be commended, but I feel you have a slant that is anti-government. Maybe if you helped us learn more about what's happening with more facts and objectivity, maybe there would be more educated readers.

But hey, that's how you sell ads.

In my opinion, are there opportunities to reduce expenses - I'm sure there are, especially if there are no sacred cows. But do you reduce firefighters and police officers? Do you cut salaries and have people just be happy they have jobs?

I don't have the answers, but my opinion is sometimes taxes aren't all bad, if they're spent properly. To find that out, we need ALL the information, not just what fits nicely on the front page or to support any perceived agendas from this paper.

I just don't see balance - maybe I'm wrong.

SPQR's picture

This is some serious whining.

What took you so long?

Luckily, The Citizen ain't the only paper in town. Pick up the legal organ from time to time... it's a good antidote for The Citizen's constant foaming at the mouth.

(for all of you who are ready to chime in with the usual "if you don't like the citizen, go somewhere else," I read all of the local newspapers, including the rare copy of the Neighbor that drops in every now and then. I just trust / appreciate some reporters and publications more than others.)

It is dangerous to only read those publications that espouse only one side of anything---particularly politics.
That is one of the reasons that the Independents now number in about the same range as the major parties. Only fools don't evaluate all solutions to problems.

Cal, if the county was pricing the value of homes at their current actual value, we would be in distress as to income for the county.

For years they used that (property value) to automatically get another 5-10% income as an excuse to spend more.
We have that no longer but the down valuing has not been accurate!
Banks used appraisers to help make loans for way too long, no longer happening.

It is time to cut head counts, we can't keep punishing the voters who are also in bad shape for the most part---including you I would imagine.

idk_revisited's picture my thinking.

Thanks for putting the links to the City documents, so that others can see it too. Still don't know from your article where I can go to express my outrage to the Council....

Does your mommy still wipe your butt for you, too? You poor helpless lazy piece of work. Who are you kidding?

idk_revisited's picture

OK, let's play.

Who am I kidding? Well, apparently the people who take the Citizen as slanted gospel. Yes, YOU may know how to get the information (enlighten us, please!), but I'm guessing that a lot of folks just don't ever go look at government websites. They do, however, read here (look at how many "guests" are on at various times.

We hold government's feet to the fire - what's the issue with doing the same thing with the media? My message is simple - the Citizen has a responsibility to let its readers know what's going on and HOW TO GET INVOLVED. So much griping about taxes, staffing cuts, etc., and yet we let the newspapers off because they make the bloggers feel better?

Or is this just a bully pulpit? How about the Citizen leading people to the meetings, telling them what time, where they're located, stuff like that. Or should we all just know that, and this paper is just another fish rag.

That's all I'm getting at, here...the Citizen can make a difference and be an advocate in its reporting - again, I'm not seeing it. Funny, though, when I present these types of issues to the publisher, we get links to the source documents....that' what true journalism is all about.

Well done, Cal. Here's hoping you stay on this path and keep your reporters on it too. In 2010, there's no excuse to NOT provide links to your source material if it's available.

Let me make a very small recommendation.

Now listen closely. We don't give a rat's ___ about more contemporary logos for anything in this city. If it adds to the budget or doesn't generate jobs, we don't give a rat's ___.

I suggest you get some collection boxes, BIG collection boxes, and attach them to the very well recognized and much beloved existing village signs and put a little note on each. The note should have this wording:

"PTC will be broke for the next 3 years, give or take a few. We are accepting your donations for new logo signs that are totally unecessary in this economic environment. If, after you pay your increased property taxes, you still feel we need new village signs, please drop your dollars in this box. Since we have no staff or money in our budget to pick your contribution up, our just recently former mayor and council have agreed to do this little chore for you out of the goodness of their little hearts."

Now, David, don't take this personally. We appreciate all that you do for us. You are just one of thousands in this city who are now the victims of the poor judgement and lack of foresight of those who voted to spend, spend, spend and spend some more for the last 4 years.

On a happier note, we are all invited to bring our own bottled water to the budget meeting this Friday and Saturday.

A consensus is building that since you three decided to totally disregard Paul Salvatore's warning that your spending votes would leave this city in a mess such as this, we are going to pass a resolution that YOUR property taxes increase 38% PER YEAR for the next three years, just so you can begin to repay us taxpayers for your arrogance. Fair is fair, right-o?

Never have understood the concept of naming certain areas of town and hanging up a sign.
But if there is some good need and we can spare the cash, we could change them to something more understandable.

I suggest we consider these names:

Lenox World & West (area from 54/74, West
Road To Boonies (area from 54/PT Parkway, South
Oriental Boulevard (area from 54/74, South
To Big Airport (area from 54/PT Parkway, North

Possibly another sign might help: We Have No Downtown

Mike King's picture

At the time of the economic implosion of our fair city, five individuals have offered themselves up to the utmost of scrutiny from an entire city spoiled by the lack of fiscal discipline of their predessessors. It is they who will likely 'balance' our city's checkbook through an unprecedented tax hike, or a combination of cuts in services, further reductions of personnel, and a more modest tax hike.

Either way, these folks are going to need your support and encouragement for each person affected by these actions is likely to vent their frustration. The next three years will not be pretty, and not all of us will be happy with the results, but our indifference to our city's affairs brought us to where we are.

Now, we get to see the difference between leadership and management.

MajorMike's picture

I will wait to see how the Mayor/Council receive staff recomendations before I go into a tailspin. This is the wrong time for any government entity to be talking about increasing taxes.

There are two houses within a stones throw of my front door that are in foreclosure and several more within our subdivision. While City and County Government cannot implement economic change within our society, they can reduce the impact at the local level through freezing or even lowering taxes. It's going to take superb fiscal management and creativity to control local taxes. But then, that's why we just elected a new Mayor. Let see what the Major/Council does with these staff recomendations.

26 million to 30 million in four years! That is 15% not 38%!

When did four year budgets start being voted upon? News to me.
Anyway, it should now be obvious to those who care and are honest that our Great Recession (that President Obama caused all by himself in the last 365 days)will require our leaders to think about Zero budgeting now.
Zero budgets mean: start the review assuming that each headcount and each other expense for the previous year isn't the guideline.
Then look at ssuch things as no allowance for paying council and mayor; just enough of their previous expenses to be legal; combine departments within the offices and see just how to be legal with maybe one-half or 1/3 of the headcount---or maybe none in some instances.
Eliminate all contracts for outside expenses...then add back those needed to be legal.
Get a voluntary lawyer. I will do paperwork, free.
Do you get my point?

Nothing more, nothing less.

I only care about today, for tomorrow never comes.

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