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Keep bubble, but cut rescue team?

I don’t make it a habit to get involved in city politics, but after learning that the city plans to disband the Peachtree City Fire Department’s Dive Rescue Team due to funding cuts, I decided to email our mayor and City Council asking why they would cut funding for a valuable emergency service, yet they find funding to replace bubbles over swimming pools that are a constant drain on the city’s resources and to remediate cracks in tennis courts.

Mayor Haddix and Mr. Sturbaum replied to my email the same day. They had both voted to provide the funding for the dive team. The only other response I received to date was from Ms. Learnard.

Her reply explained that the dive team never saved anyone and their primary focus was to pull dead bodies and evidence out of the water. She further explained that we could have Henry County’s dive team do that for us, which would only take about two extra hours.

She also pinned the blame for our budget issues on the past administration’s habit of expanding facilities without factoring in the operating costs for future budgets. I never received a reply from Ms. Fleisch or Mr. Imker.

My reply to Ms. Learnard: So, what you’re saying is that in the unlikely event that a car plummets off the bridge into Lake Peachtree or Lake Kedron, and submerges, that our city will choose to wait a couple of hours for Henry County to come fish out the corpse instead of having our own, qualified rescue workers save the victim.

I get it. It’s all about budget. We need nice tennis courts and bubbles over our swimming pool.

As a taxpayer, I strongly disagree with your decision. That car could be mine or that of my husband or child. If our leaders have spent money unwisely in the past, unwisely cutting funding from city services is not the way to correct it. Protecting your citizens should always take priority.”

Time and again we have seen budgets for city services cut: raises suspended, pay cuts, and benefits reduced for safety personnel, outsourcing landscape maintenance (we all know how that one has turned out), etc.

Yet we continually read about funding for recreational upgrades. If you agree that our emergency services are more valuable to the well-being of our community than recreation upgrades, please contact the City Council. Apparently three of the five stand with Ms. Learnard.

Kim Hamm

Peachtree City, Ga.



SPQR's picture


Learnard, Imker and Fleisch are doing what they were elected to do. Get the most bang for the taxpayer buck. If there was some real probability that a dive team would save lives I'm sure the vote would have been to fund the county scuba club. In real life, however, by the time they got to the site and suited up there would not be anything to save except for one or more cadavers. I find it troublesome that two of our elected official could or would not see this obvious fact.

Don Haddix's picture

They were informed, as we all were, two people have been pulled live from the water. One died in the hospital and one survived.

Imker's comment, with the other two agreeing, was the return on investments didn't justify the cost.

About $18,000 for the rest of 2011, about $41,000 for 2012 and about $7,000 thereafter per year with a new lake being built.

Your assumption is incorrect. The two of us opposing defunding saw the obvious fact lives could be saved, and have.

What is the value of a human life and recovering evidence before it degrades in the water? I think well worth this amount.

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

Robert W. Morgan's picture

It is really a shame all those witty people got banned fro here. Can you imagine all the possible responses? From Bonkers? From Mike King?
Maybe that pimple-faced kid treesarepeachy can take a shot at that - if she's still on here. I really want her to call me that name she throws around so freely.

My answer on the what is a life worth question is that it depends on many things and some lives are worth more than others. Not going any further than that.

Live free or die!

It seems you just can't keep my name out of your contradictory mouth can you? I like how you say "some lives are worth more than others", yet your signature says "live free or die". If this is truly your answer then you need to jump off a bridge to fulfill your statement.

Maybe every life is not priceless to you but to the parents of that child or to the children of that father or mother, that life is priceless. Now do some of us think some people are worth more than others? Definitely, yes. We would all feel,and rightly so, that the policeman who was recently shot was a wondrful person who served his community, his church and his fellow being to the utmost. The person who shot him? Not worth much to anyone from the life he has lived and the harm he has done. Yet to those who love him, his life is priceless. The rich man who donates to universities, hospitals, etc, compared to the homeless man on the street? I could go on and on; then too it depends on your religious beliefs. Some religions believe every life is priceless, others feel this life on earth does not count--it is the after life they aim for. So the price of a life, would like the perception of beauty, be in the eyes and heart of the beholder. I, personally, would never want to be put in a position of deciding whose life was worth what.

mudcat's picture

More for someone who is really productive. Personal injury and wrongful death lawyers and juries do this all the time. They determine how much a lost life was worth and make the person that caused the injury or death to pay that amount. Usually based on the person's earning potential over x number of years.

Logically, a non-productive person, like a criminal, welfare queen or a homeless person who is a financial drain on society would have no worth. Pretty cold, but that's life.

You will note that it was Mr. Haddix who actually asked the question which started all this.
Don't think that the mayor should be speculating about that. That's the kind of thing that comes back to haunt you if someone dies on city property.

First, while I'm certainly not witty as you think some are and don't live in PTC, I'll take a stab:
a. It's the wrong question.
b. The right question is: What is the city's legal obligation to provide such a capability. City attorney should be able to answer that one.
c. If the answer is "none", then you take steps to inform citizens that if they choose to recreate in city lake waters, they do so at their own risk.
d. If the answer is "some", you define exactly what and then determine if you can afford it.
e. "Off Limits" is another choice, but only after all other questions are resolved.
f. Accidents happen. People sometimes die. Life goes on.

mudcat's picture

I always thought the answer was no. But I see swimming in Lake Peachtree, not so much in Lake Kedron.

TinCan's picture

Seem to recall from some time ago the Lake Peachtree was allowed by PTC because it is under city control, but Kedron wasn't because it's managed by the county

See, "Guard Called Hero For Shooting, Killing Robber" on the WSBTV web site.

Mayor Haddix,
In all fairness to SPQR here is what was reported in The Citizen a few weeks ago:

"Due to a lack of funding, the Peachtree City Fire Department will be disbanding its dive team.

The department will still have the capability to provide safety for events such as the Peachtree City Triathlon and the annual dragon boat races, but they will not be able to recover anyone who goes below the surface of the water, officials said.

The city also will lose the capability of searching underwater for evidence and other items. So in such situations the city will have to summon a dive team from a neighboring jurisdiction, which will cost time but most likely not money.

The city was facing a $18,262 shortfall this year to meet new requirements and to overcome budget cuts that delayed necessary equipment upgrades, fire officials said. Also looming next year is an estimated cost of $41,000 for a required communications device that allows for communications between underwater and land-based personnel.

While there were some concerns about eliminating the dive team as the city is about to gain another drinking water reservoir in Lake McIntosh, the cost was seen as too high by a majority of council.

A vote that denied a staff request to take the funds out of the city’s reserves was approved on a 3-2 vote. In favor of cutting the funds were council members Eric Imker, Kim Learnard and Vanessa Fleisch.

Voting against were Mayor Don Haddix and councilman Doug Sturbaum.

Fire Chief Ed Eiswerth said if the city decided to bring back the dive team after a period of time, it would cost upwards of $100,000 to accomplish."

Mayor Haddix,
You only quoted the $18,000 operating shortfall in the budget for 2010 and the $41,000 upgrade in equipment for 2011. You additionally left out that the fire department reported at the meeting that they felt comfortable providing safety for Peachtree City Triathlon and the annual dragon boat races but they will not be able to recover anyone who goes below the surface of the water.

When explaining something like this you need to compare apples to apples....

What is the current projected city budget deficit? and what is the cost saving of eliminating the dive team (total cost, not shortfalls or incremental)?

Here's the looks like you are either playing politics by trying to make the other 3 council member look bad, or you are showing you lack of understanding of accounting and/or reporting budget numbers. The other possiblity is you are playing with SPQR by not reporting the total information but I do not see why you would do that.

Regarding Kim Hamm, Did the city enter into an agreement with Cannongate to maintain the courts at the tennis center, where we are not be able to get out of that obligation.

To keep the dive team, did you propose other budget cuts to balance the budget?

Did you have a counter-proposal to council to cover these costs and balance the city budget?

Will you post on here the apples to apples comparison so it is better defined for all of us?

Finally, where's the teamwork in city council. Are we back to the finger pointing again?

Its not very CEO looking...

Thank you

certainly seem to have all it takes to run the city. Why did you not throw your hat in the ring in the last election? Or is it that it is much easier to coach from the sidelines when your neck is not on the line? You seem to have an answer for everything. It is beginning to appear that you are obsessed with Mayor Haddix---if he blogs he is wrong--if he doesn't answer your threepeat blogs he is wrong. As well as worrying what prospective companies coming to town and seeing the mayor's blogs would think, I would think you and the several others who take every opportunity to snipe at the Mayor would be concerned at how they would perceive your devisive comments. It does get tiresome and one has to begin to wonder just what your agenda might be.

I agree, Run Sussberg Run.

Sorry, no interest in serving the city again! I served on the planning commission to the best of my ability until unfortunate issues arose.

Am I obsessed, not really, but I am concerned with those who play poltics when I feel city deserves better. Also, its important to point out when someone is taking advantage of their fellow council members especially when finger pointing and/or with mis-information.

What is your opinion and what facts do you present to support your beliefs?

Feel free to post any facts to the contrary and let's avoid assumptions and perceptions. Reading the council minutes, this newspaper, review of the land use plan and city charter is a great way to get informed.

I have no agenda other than to point out the issues. If you are not concerned with the issues, or my comments, please do not read them if they bother you.

Thank you.

council meetings, newspapers, etc. Perhaps others just feel differently. I am concerned with what happens to my community as much as you are. Pointing out the issues is one thing, beating them to death is another. Why repeat the same post three times other than to goad the Mayor? It is one thing to be concerned and another to be obsessive.

I'm really sorry that you are drawing such conclusions from my post.

I didn't say that you do not keep up or care about the city...and since I don't know you so how can I make such assumptions or perceptions. My apologies if that's how it came accross.

I was responding to your post whereby you identiified assumptions and perceptions regarding my possible motives.

I have no interest in running for office and I have no interest other than to see our mayor take the leadership of PTC and act like a leader, not play politics and point fingers.

Regarding goading the mayor...and posting 3 times, I actually re-posted it 5 times and if you read the blogs today, it clearly did not work. Unfortunately he is quoting inaccurate information and finger pointing at the 3 council members. You can draw your own conclusion from that.

Meanwhile, I won't be posting the same item 5 times anymore since there is no change on the horizon! But I will post atleast once when I continue to see this behavior. Please just ignore them.

Thank you

You have to be very, very careful when dealing with people regarding these safety related issues. If you're not in favor of every single safety measure possible, someone will undoubtedly label you as "uncaring" or having the "wrong priorities".

The truth is, though, that capable leaders need to make decisions with the big picture in mind, knowing there is a give and take, cost and benefit, with everything. Yes, even with lives at stake.

Using a car plummeting off a bridge as the example, I could propose that we need even more safety to prevent people from drowning in their cars. We need auto-impact withstanding nets put up along the edges of all bridges around the city. We need 24 hour manned posts at all bridges in case of emergency. Heck, we need to avoid constructing bridges all together. If you don't agree with me, you obviously don't care about safety. This is absurd of course.

When making decisions you have to weigh the likelihood of an event happening against the consequences and then appropriate your resources accordingly. You can't spend everything on safety and you have to use the data at hand and rational judgment to decide what's worth expenses. That's called risk management. In this case, the 3 council members voting to cease funding for the dive and rescue team felt the likelihood of the event happening numerous times was not worth the cost to the city. With the data presented (and even with Mayor Haddix's claim of an incident at some time), this does not seem to be an absurd cut. Not in the least. This city needs an on-call dive and rescue team about as much as it needs an on-call anthrax emergency team.

The claim that the 3 council members voting to cut this dive rescue team feel that a swimming pool bubble is more important than saving lives is the sign of someone who doesn't understand risk management.

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