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PTC is NOT a private business; budget must maintain services

Now that the Peachtree City budget is in the forefront of city government once again, it seems appropriate to offer an alternate opinion to the philosophy of “I disagree with city employees who feel they should not contribute more to solving the problem. What would they do if they worked in the commercial/business world?”

The fact is that local government is not the commercial/business world.

In the business world, the success and failure of a company depends on dollars and cents. When times are tough, the CEO and the board of directors must decide just how much they are willing to cut into their profit margin to sustain themselves. They have the option of cutting departments, product lines or services, and they will survive; they may even still profit.

PTC is not in the business of making money. The success or failure of our town is measured by quality of life. When times are tough, the CEOs, i.e. the taxpayers, must decide how much they are willing to do without to sustain that quality of life in hard times.

We do not have the option of eliminating services and still succeeding. We cannot just decide to eliminate public works, not repair our roads and paths, not fix our storm water pipes, or cut public safety. The need for these services will always be there whether we decide to fund them or not.

In an aging city, arguably these services are even more critical to preserve and support. If we choose not to fund them or fund them less, our quality of life will suffer.

The difference here is the taxpayers of PTC can choose to pay more in order to maintain that quality of life. Collectively, we can choose to succeed. We are not completely at the mercy of the economy like Microsoft. We can choose to pay for our city services, or, in other words, be accountable for the life we want.

Now to suggest that the only ones that should be accountable for our lifestyle are the employees whose very job is to provide the quality services that we demand is wrong. In our current economic climate, especially, we are all accountable. The city staff has already cut back to the tune of over $1 million last year, and are further cutting back with the proposed budget about another million.

In the grand scheme of our budget problem, is this a drop in the bucket? Yes. Is it the staff’s fault we are in this budget crisis? No.

Who’s fault is it? Ours. We elected officials and sat by while they provided new services to our town over the last several years that they never asked us to pay for via increased taxes. Now that this has caught up with us we expect the city staff alone to make up for these shortfalls?

Show me a way to cut the budget that won’t impact our services or our employees — show me the waste. It just isn’t there.

When are we going to be accountable for the choices we have made and the services and quality of life we have all come to enjoy in PTC?

Apparently, some feel that the measure of success in our town is the same as that of any corporation. As long as we “live within our means” and cut services and employees to help our bottom line we are a successful entity.

The fact is that we haven’t lived within our means for a long time. We want, want, want, but we don’t want to pay. The elected officials have given us just what we want for many years. It is time we ponied up and accepted the fact that we have to pay for our quality of life or it is going to go away.

If it does, and our town fails, there will only be us to blame.

I say raise the millage. I say raise it so that we have a truly balanced budget without using reserves.

What do you say?

Say it — June 1 at 6:30 p.m. City Hall or June 10 at 6:30 during the Town Hall meeting.

Beth Pullias

Peachtree City, Ga.



Mike King's picture

Yes, there are those who would say that in order to bring our city out of the crisis created over the last twelve years or so would be to cut city payroll by 15-20 percent over the next five years. There are those who would say simply to cut services. And, of course, there are those like yourself who would say simply raise taxes so that everything those mental diminutives (politicians) saddled us with will continue.

I would offer that the city enact an ordinance that requires it to be debt free within five years. Specifically, to enact an honest hiring freeze and then compute a debt payment that over five years will completely eliminate all the city's debt. Then, take one third from reserves, add one third in an increased millage rate, and cut payroll by the other one third. This, in essence, spreads the wealth and gives the city lattitude to protect what it sees as 'uncuttable.'

To simply raise taxes only kicks the problem further down the road and does nothing to eliminate the debt. To continue hiring and spending as Peachtree City has done over the last few years will force fewer and fewer businesses as well as residents to choose Peachtree City as you and I did years ago.

It's real easy to say our services will decline. Show us some numbers.

The debt free city idea is nice, but are we going to buy patrol cars for cash and all else??? Wouldn't that cause some pretty big fluctuations in the millage rates?

Mike King's picture

It would require a bit of detailed planning to be accomplished by those 'staffers.' Both you and I have worked on operational budgeting and we both know it is simply not rocket science. Wouldn't you agree that this is precisely what our city government is paid to do?

If it's too difficult, perhaps a change would be in order. After all, with a city manager whose background in the Air Force is one of unlimited budgets what else could we expect?

SPQR's picture

PTC is definitely worth the money. But it never work out to blindly throw money at politicians or bureaucrats. And since I don't see any really meaningful oversight on the horizon......

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