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Small crowd at budget meeting says 'Tax us'

The overwhelming majority of about 50 people at Peachtree City’s town hall meeting on the budget indicated they don’t support cuts in city services, city staffing levels or employee benefits.

After Mayor Don Haddix asked for a show of hands on those matters, he asked for the same on how many people would support a property tax increase. About 30 people raised their hands, and among that number were a few city employees.

About six members of the audience indicated they favored a cut in services and also a cut in employee benefits, though only three were willing to support cutting employees’ pay.

Several residents argued that the city should cut services in some form in a bid to avoid a tax increase.

Mark Ballard, a recreation commission member, noted that the recreation department has taken its funding cuts and that parent associations in various sports have stepped up to fill the void with extra grass cutting and other maintenance improvements the city can’t handle due to budgetary constraints.

Ballard referenced the city’s slogan: “Plan to Stay,” in his remarks.

“I don’t think many people would plan to stay if they don’t have some quality of life,” Ballard said.

Several other residents said they would like to see the city increase the frequency of lawn mowing off secondary streets from the current three times a year. One resident said it should be upped to six times a year.

Several speakers, including those who commented via the Internet, suggested that cuts could be made in public safety, specifically the police department.

The city has the second-lowest ratio of officers per thousand residents among cities its size, yet the crime rate of “more serious” classified crimes has increased 92 percent since 2004. In the same time frame, the number of traffic citations has decreased from about 9,500 to just over 6,200 because officers must spend more time investigating the more serious crimes, City Manager Bernie McMullen said in his opening remarks.

Beyond McMullen’s presentation, the remainder of the meeting was dedicated to citizen comments on the budget.

Resident Robert Brown suggested that the reason the city is in a fiscal quandary despite a significant increase in revenue each year due to increases in property values.

“Our level of service and level of expenditures have gotten out of whack with the city population,” Brown said, urging the city to cut costs further before adopting a property tax increase.

The city is facing an $18 million shortfall over the next five years, in part because it will have to begin funding an estimated $1.5 million in 2013 when SPLOST funds are exhausted for street and cart path maintenance.

Also, the city is anticipating an annual $1 million hit in 2013 when the local option sales tax distribution formula is renegotiated. That decrease would be tied to the city’s more stable population compared to other areas in Fayette County that are continuing to grow, McMullen noted.



PTC Observer's picture

Sounds like you had some adults show up for your meeting, if we are going to live within our means, then we will have to raise taxes.

I think this is pretty simple really, so just tell us like adults how much?

Mike King's picture

...that among the 50 in attendance raising their hands in favor of a tax increase would be a few city employees? The majority of the citizens that reside hear work elsewhere and were either commuting or too damn tired to attend. Yes, we have too many police, but it takes fortitude (cajones) to make those cuts. Those more serious crimes number a few, else our city manager would have used numbers vice percentages. The city of Griffin has twice the crime and fewer officers, but they obviously have a working relationship with their Sheriff's Department.

The bottom line is clear, you raise taxes while ignoring the cuts in a bloated city government the next few years will be miserable for each elected Council Member.

idk_revisited's picture

Your post - 6:47pm tonight. Wonder if you were at home at 6:47 last night too :)

"the bottom line is clear" - those that take the time to participate are heard, and those citizens want to pay to keep and improve the quality of life in PTC.

I'm still waiting to see your specific cuts...

Where's the bloat?

Mike King's picture

Try cutting 20% of your police force, each of us realize that the crime rate does not justify current numbers. Thats 14 uniformed there Junior. Next, try asking the VFW and such organizations to man the Gathering Place so as to not have full time 'staffers' reap their continued double retirement package. You know they'll likely volunteer, and eliminate their user fee.

That's two, but then who's counting.

Don Sr, did you really think city employees would receive my comments well? There were more than just a few in spite of your spin. We certainly don't want to be accurate here, do we Mr Mayor? You simply have no clue to their total number especially since their Boss, Bernie, was there.

Go ahead and raise taxes, and keep hiring. Perhaps you and Bernie can partner up in business like our previous Mayor.

idk_revisited's picture

OK, so you think the Gathering Place is full of "staffers".

The number of full time employees at the Gathering Place = 1
2 part timers and volunteers already are there.

So, so, so uninformed.

Try again.

Yes, there were many more than a few city employees there. And the ones who didn't speak, and their families, were in the audience to give the Mayor his "show of hands" against staff cuts a and benefit cuts. Totally skewed to what the majority of council wants. And especially to what the staff wants.

After sitting in that room with police and firemen all around you, are you going to raise your hand and answer yes, you want to staff cuts? Yeah, sure.

Have Bernie spend the first 30 plus minutes driveling out the stats. Then, let's have multiple city staff stand up in a rage (look at the video, these people are out of control) and vent about "we work well together and we have a little club and don't even think any of us will survive without the other, because we will make this city look really, really bad if you make one of my co-workers take a day off as unpaid vacation time." Who was that blonde? Threatening to take away the fireworks and parade? She needs some one on one time with a counselor. So does the rudest EMT in PTC. In any other work field, if you talked to the bosses the way PTC staff do, while they decide whether you stay or go, you would be on the top of the list for being shown the door. Who manages these employees? Certainly not Bernie or Council.

The mayor refusing to allow anyone on council to give a response, or open a dialogue, which IS the sole purpose of a town hall meeting. Let the citizens have their say, and get responses from city and elected officials. Did you hear the duct tape being ripped off their mouths at the end? But, only after Learnard was able to get in her plug for the tax increase that they (all but one) have already decided on.

And most telling was Imker's comment at the very end about not allowing a show of hands on another option that has been discussed, of NO new tax for 2 years and NO service cuts for 2 years....nope, he was cut off at the knees from getting a show of hands on that one.

Stop wasting staff time (which is what this amounts to) coming up with these phony "we're listening to everyone and it's SO important to us" meetings. And Vanessa Fleisch a no-show, AGAIN? At least she isn't wasting her time on this, she's made up her mind already.

idk_revisited's picture

when you're running for office...

Will anyone other than Mike King or PTCGOIL comment on this topic? My magic 8-ball says "not likely".

Fare thee well - every group needs a curmudgeon or two...

Well John and the Mayor said those in attendance voted for more tax. That makes it worth a headline and official! If they wait one more year they can blame President Obama!

This kind of talk is going to get you "blocked" here for sure! Imagine a future candidate "blocked?"

hutch866's picture

Bonkers$ is back for another day and a half. Whatever did you do Bonk to get booted?

I yam what I yam

Mike, 50 people out of 36,000 came to the meeting. this simply shows how concerned our citizens are about having their taxes raised several dollars per month. this city is starting to look like the's embarrassing.

if previous council(s) would have done what i recommended 5 years ago none of these problems would exist. this council is guilty of the same...raise the frik'n taxes! the taxpayers have told you over and over again they want service and they want quality of life.

again and again, many are worried about trying to save pennies instead focused on making dollars. when will it sink in?

Yes Dar, that is why the SPLOST passed so easily----we all want our taxes increased! Won't you ever understand that a few hundred dollars per year isn't much for some, bu the vast majority of a million dollar tax increase is paid by people already short of money. It is the million dollars we complain about. ($300 X 10,000 households = $3,000,000 wasted)

I'm sure the TEA people want theirs increased! Maybe they will be at the next council meeting?

I am yet to understand why "services" must be cut if people are cut! That assumes that all people are doing all they can--maybe something doesn't need doing? Maybe, just maybe, people could work harder and a little extra after and before work? I do. Just how many tickets have been issued for the ugly stuff here now? OK, quit griping about it then!

I think it wouldn't hurt if the council read "Profiles in Courage" or just read nearly anything!

idk_revisited's picture

...perhaps you need to live somewhere you can afford.

Instead of trading the standard of living to appease your pocketbook, perhaps your pocketbook should define YOUR standard of living.

The issue seems fairly clear - PTC residents want the resort style community they moved to, and now it costs more than the City has to keep it up. So, if the level of service (employees, workloads, etc.) are there to maintain the standards, shouldn't revenue be raised to match that?

Gee, if the citizens would've passed the SPLOST, some of this burden would be paid by those shopping in the stores in our County. You may disagree about roads, or schools that are sitting empty - if you do, it's your right to let the elected officials know that BEFORE they put the SPLOST before you.

Why are so many people so "affected" after the fact? Become INVOLVED IN YOUR COMMUNITY. The WFB was on transportation plans since 1985 - if no one says anything about it until they are turning dirt, SHAME ON YOU.

But, please, let's not confuse the story with facts...

[quote=idk_revisited]If you can't afford the quality of life...perhaps you need to live somewhere you can afford.[/quote]

Seriously, idk? You are assuming that everyone against higher taxes must be too poor to live here.

Why don't you just tell us now how much extra cash we should have in order to live in your version of what PTC is?

idk_revisited's picture

Using rough math...just to use the Staff proposal of 1 mil this year and .30 mils every year after that...that would allow for minor growth of 3%, I think, each year...

I think the figure was about $75 more a year per household for every $100K your home's value is (average market value for a home in PTC is $272).

So let's say you live in a home with a value of $100K (yes, those exist in PTC):

If you do that weekly, that's $1.44 per week per $100K of home value per household.

What can you buy for $1.44 a week?

At the Kroger at Crosstown right now, that's not quite 1 Stouffer's or Lean Cuisine Entree.

At McDonald's, that's a McDouble and not even a value order of fries.

At the gas station, that's almost 1/2 gallon of gas.

Tell me again, if you can't afford that, how bad off are you? You're typing on a computer with an Internet connection, so you are probably either paying $20+ a month for Internet, or you're at Starbucks (your coffee costs more than your tax bill for PTC) or you're using the free Internet at the library (you're welcome, thanks to your taxes).

If you live in a $200K home, double the amount, etc.

They make homes that sell for $200K with multiple bedrooms, a yard, etc. (hey, I might even live in one of those). But if your "standards" are higher than that, now you've illustrated my argument. Maybe you don't need to live in a community that you can't support with your taxes.

couldn't have said it better. you are right on the money.

Cajones = wooden drawers
you must have meant "cojones"

PTC Observer's picture

No one would suggest that we raise taxes if we had a "bloated city government". Now since you know that we have such a government why don't you outline specifically where the "bloat" is?

A simple list with numbers will be fine for us to determine if you are correct, compare say the last three years of these line item expenditures so we can see the growth.

Then it would be helpful if you could suggest what cuts could be made and what they would mean in terms of reduced services.

We could take your suggested cuts and see how much it will reduce the projected shortfall over the next three years.

Give us something like this and then you may have some creditability with those on this board and without it you sound a bit bloated yourself.


20 cops cut = 1.5 million.
10 firemen cut = .75 million
no new vehicles or engines for two more years = oh, about $1 million.
5 cut out of the office (3 from top, 2 from bottom) = $.4 million.

Scrap the dogs, bicycles, motorbikes, school sitters, (don't do much anyway) do more "foot patrols" to save $3 gas. Keep the cops out of the courtroom, take depositions.
I could go on but it is hard to convince government workers and airlines.

Savings: Oh maybe : $5 million.

PTC Observer's picture

If you're going to answer the question then answer it the way it was asked.

This hardly tells us much, does it?

If we cut 20 policemen and 10 firemen, how does the ratio of citizens to these categories change? How does it protect us more to reduce these numbers, or are you suggesting it doesn't matter.

Believe me you and Mr. King will be hard pressed to come up with a projected 14 million shortfall in three years.

Now I am not saying that we can't save money someplace but the biggest single expenditure is salaries. So give us some "color" on your suggestions with associated trends from past years.

Easy to "demand" when you don't have to live with the fallout. I assume you wouldn't put up with increases in crime and would simply move to another county.

There are answers, but no one has touched on them in this blog.

Mr. King, I’m really glad you didn’t get elected when you ran for city office, as almost everything you post up on these forums is inaccurate, and mis-leading to those whom read them and actually think you know something. We really would have been in trouble if you had attained a leadership position in our town, based on your ability to make statements without all the facts.
A quick internet search show’s that Griffin has a far larger police force, protecting a substantially smaller population in a substantially smaller geographical area. Sources were the City of Griffin Website and the State of Georgia Website.

“The Griffin Police Department is comprised of approximately 100 sworn officers and 11 civilian support personnel”

“Griffin Population: 23451. Total Area: 14.6 square miles”

I must admit, at least your consistent!

Further, if your comparing Griffin to Peachtree City lets not mention the 448 employees Griffin has, compared to the what, like 230 or so that Peachtree City employs. Also, lets not mention the $80 million dollar budget Griffin has compared to the $25 million dollar or so budget that Peachtree City has proposed. (I’ll give you that $35M of their $80M is for their Electric Utility, so are 45 of those employees).
I could go on and on about comparisons, but like so many cities throughout Georgia, Peachtree City residents get more for their money and for years have so with less people “providing it”.
Griffin has 1/3rd less citizens, 1/3rd less area, but employ far more personnel and (like the 1/3rd more in their Police Department than Peachtree City).
Once again Mr. King it’s obvious you don’t have the facts, and might want to do research before posting.

idk_revisited's picture

That's heresy! How else would folks get to spew their venom if they didn't just make stuff up!

Don Haddix's picture

There were more than 50 when people seated elsewhere and standing were included. The number of employees was surprisingly few.

There were also five emails read, including Mike King's with his calling us spineless and other terms. Mike, gotta tell you it was not well received by the audience, including those who backed cuts. But it was not hidden or censored, it was included.

The response from the audience remains the same as two Surveys, two completed Budget cycles, emails and other forms of communications received over the last two years and so far in this one. About 75% do not want to cut employee pay or benefits or services. While not thrilled over a tax increase that is preferable to the cuts.

Just passing along information for consideration.

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

do you think the crime rate is low because there is a police force?...cutting police would create an avenue for an increase in crime, thus creating decreased home values, quality of life, etc. just a thought.

Hotels's picture

Have to say upfront I did not make the meeting. Wish I had but could not due to conflict. Seems a tax increase is inevitable. Shame we could not work as hard as Fayetteville and the BOE to get by without one. I personally oppose an increase for the reasons cited. (To offset the decline in revenues needed to fund the police and fire departments’ capital expenditures.) Did you know that in the middle of all our needs to cut; our city has approved the new acquisition of motorcycles for the PCPD? We'll get one, then another, do the training, staff the division, grow the government.... Is there anything we say no to?

The headline of this article would suggest that an approval comes for the lack citizen outrage. Maybe this is true. Maybe also people are just so fed up with the process they just get the feeling it would make little difference. Having posted and receive responses from officials (thank you) in the past, I find it very frustrating to be listened to but not really heard.

Hey, I love this city and want to Stay.. Just want to see us try to keep the costs of doing so down until things improve. You know, like all of us are forced to do at home. Another tax, we'll never get back..

idk_revisited's picture

And you get the responses that they got at the meeting, what else do you expect?

Being involved is more than typing on this blog - I believe the City provided (and provides) multiple ways that you can provide your input, and yet a crowd of 50 and 5 online responses was all the City actually got for this.

You reap what you sow, citizens.

Funny - a few years back, PTC actually did a tax rollback. No one seems to remember that. Think it was 2003 or 2004.

Sometimes you have to spend the money.

Keep your hands out of my pocket....

Just lose the "nanny state" attitude that the [local] government has to be involved in every little aspect of our lives and/or manage every nuance of our local economy. It's time for a major paradigm shift.

The city should pay for essential infrastucture and public safety.
Let the local marketplace dynamics, like-minded interests, foundations, churches and charities do what they do--- BTW-- much more efficiently than bureaucrats.

For those that want to be "taxed some more". Form a non profit foundation -- solicit donations... write the checks... manage the services-- volunteer your time. Be happy paying for it, and doing all those things you consider important ----but by definition --Really are services and and niceties beyond the scope of the governments mandate.

Someone should run on THOSE principles. We would flush the obsessed micro-management & statist approach all the way down the drain.

No More Taxes!!
In fact a radical tax-cut scenario at all levels would free up some serious resources for these kindly and like-minded "tax-me-more" folks...

They would be empowered to do many of the things they wish too pay for with their hard-earned money.

Just ask Harry "the weasle" Reid....

<a href="">Reid: "Taxation Is Voluntary"</a>

I'm interested. What part of Peachtree City's government resembles a nanny state? Remember, we're talking about the Peachtree City Municipal Government here, not the Fed. Is it how they mow the green space and maintain the golf cart paths? Or is it the library, or the police and fire departments?

idk_revisited's picture

OK. Please define infrastructure for me.

I'll assume the following:

- Roads
- Water Lines
- Sewer Lines (both santiary and stormwater)

Now define public safety:

I'll assume the following:
- Police
- Fire
- Ambulance

Now, if I may, let me ask these questions:

1. How often should the infrastructure be maintained?
2. How do we know the infrastructure needs maintenance?
3. Who takes the complaints from the citizens?
4. Who investigates the complaints and arranges for them to be fixed?
5. How do we plan to add or improve the infrastructure?
6. Who does that?
7. How do we pay those people? How do we pay for the infrastructure materials, etc. (I mean, who writes the checks, who contacts vendors to see who has the best price, who are the actual people who need to be involved in doing these things?)

Let's assume that we people who fix the infrastructure use equipment (cars, dump trucks, etc.)
1. Who maintains the equipment?
2. How long can the equipment be out of service?
3. Who pays the people who take care of the equipment?

OK, let's assume the public safety people use equipment, like cars, computers, etc. Same questions as before...

OK, so we have to have some people who support those actions - agreed?

Next topic - "let volunteers, churches, non-profits do the other things".

I'll use the library as an example.

Let's say that we make a church run a library - let's say that religious denomination doesn't support another philosophy. Do those books go away?

How about parks and recreation - if I want a place to walk my dog, let's say there is a big field near my house. Nothing is on that field. If a non-profit owned that field, how would they pay to keep it mowed, if they even wanted people on it?

So.....what you do there is you push that same spending onto others, quite possibly at a greater percentage than what the government is actually doing with taxes.

How well is the YMCA doing in Fayette County? So well it had to merge with the Coweta branch to stay afloat. Do you believe a group like that will take on the tennis courts, for example? Or the other pools in town?

My point is - people whine to stay out of their pockets, but if it weren't for government, you would lose the one thing you crave the most - freedom. Why? It would become strictly a Darwinian existence; where only the rich or strong had, and those that didn't would just vanish in.

You make the assumptions that all these "volunteers" can and do everything in the best interest of all involved - no, they don't. They support their own interests (the growth of their church, the agenda of their organization).

So...philosophically, the mantra you speak of is so unfortunately misguided due to the constant barrage of "mismanagement" that you truly appear to want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Things cost money.
If you want those things, as a citizen, say so.
If enough people want those things, the government may need to provide them if the private sector cannot or will not.
If the government has to provide them, you will pay for it.

Otherwise, anarchy will set in, cults of personality will take over, and you'll wonder what "happened to our country".

It's a balance - I understand the other side, but you can't just stop it all - yes, reviewing expenses and optimizing them is the right thing to do. Why does everyone assume that's not being done? Possibly because what THEY see as fluff isn't what EVERYONE sees as fluff.

and go for a ride in the country.

Crank up the music really loud and put a smile on your face. It's the weekend, go enjoy yourself. Take it from a curmudgeon, you will not give a hoot about any budgets for a few hours.:)

I'm sure there were city employees at the meeting...there are city employees that live in PTC therefore have a right to attend the meeting. Also, employees have a right to attend any and ALL meetings that would have an effect on their lives. I believe most city employees would be able to swallow a 1% paycut IF and only IF the citizens were willing to do their part, too. Ok, go ahead and cut 20 police officers...have fun trying to cover each shift,24/7 with 40 officers-that includes CID and SRO...oh yeah, and go ahead and take away their cars...they can JOG to your house within an hour when you call about your neighbor's dog pooping on your lawn. Go ahead and have each household buy some AEDs just to keep on hand in case someone in the house has a heart attack because the fire department and police won't be able to make it to your house because they're either out doing their walking patrol (to save the city some gas $) or they're on the side of the road in a car that no longer runs. It amazes me to no end that every person seems to recognize that a tax increase should have taken place sometime over the past 5-10 years, but no one wants a tax increase to fix what not having an increase has caused. You can't have it both ways. Oh, and by the way, I am absolutely POSITIVE that a patrol motorcycle costs MUCH less than a new patrol car...guess that doesn't matter. Oh, and something else to think about-I believe I read that both police K9s were bought with donated money...NOT your tax dollars.

one more thought...I've heard over and over that you can't undo a tax increase, but can you undo 2-5 years worth of no raise and possibly pay cuts? You may say yes but I bet citizens will fight that move too if it ever comes up.

the 1% cut. Just take sarcastic, in your face, try and intimidate us, law enforcement jerks like the above and stick 'em in the unemployment line for a while. YOU really are the reason so many on here have advocated PD and/or FD staffing cuts. You really think this makes you look like someone worth saving in the face of job cuts?

There is not a person in this city who doesn't realize you have right to be at these meetings. You SHOULD be at these meetings. It's your "I'm just too good for this city to let go" or your "I will never be cut back or furloughed because I am God's gift to the PD or FD" or your implied threats of "You will pay big time, citizen Joe, if you touch MY job" attitude that we are so tired of. Your post is the poster child for what is wrong with attitudes here in the only 2 depts. that have already been told will not be cut this year. Keep shooting yourselves in the foot.

Come back and read your post over a few times and you just might see a fraction of what the residents see as the problem here. And since you forget, it IS about what the residents see as the problem, not about what you imagine is the problem.

Hopefully your get your way and they will make the cuts to public safety! When they do, do us all a favor who don't want them. When someone brakes into your house and steals all of your stuff call a crack head to investigate it, and when your house catches on fire I hope your fire hose will do the job. Thanks.

As in who? Put yourself out here, tough guy.

I think you need to stop with the "implied threats".

"brakes into your house"? Stop, already.

idk_revisited's picture

...if you're going to make a threat, at least use the right words! :)

And will the crack head's phone number be listed?

We can disagree on funding, but no one is going to eliminate public safety entirely. It's my opinion that the amount of personnel we have works well in our city - I don't think we need less, we might actually need a little more. Others may disagree, and do, and that's their right. As long as the discussion is based on facts and statistics, not in fear and emotion, we can actually have dialogue.

My issue has never been to "shut up" those who want to cut expenses - I just want both sides to be presented fairly.

To post something like "When someone brakes [sic] into your house and steals all of your stuff call a crack head to investigate it, and when your house catches on fire I hope your fire hose will do the job" is, in my opinion, not presenting the other side fairly.

Please, debate the issues with reason, not fear.

Cyclist's picture

President Obama wants to sprinkle about $50 billion into state and local coffers in order to avoid "massive layoffs of teachers, police and firefighters" and to support the still-fragile economic recovery.

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

Cut the grass, keep the facilities open and looking good. It benefits all residents of town.

no offense meant, no threats implied by any posts...just a statement of personal feelings. No one wants tax increases, no one wants pay cuts, no one wants furloughs. Many people feel passionately about the budget and proposed solutions. There is no right or wrong-regardless of the decision made now and 5 years from now, it's gonna hurt everyone involved. Some people can't understand the thought of losing pay so others can keep the perks they're used to. Others can't understand why staffers are so reluctant to "do their part". I have said it before-it needs to be a compomise. What if pay cuts and furloughs with no raised taxes are only enough to get through this coming year...what then? I love my job, I would work just as hard if I were paid less, I would work just as hard with furlough days...all I would ask for is a compromise. PTCGOIL-you are passionate about your stance on the budget, so am I...we both have the right to feel how we do and to express those feelings. I respect your opinion, but I respectfully disagree. No offense meant, no threats implied

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