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PTC staff: hike now pays off in long run

If Peachtree City enacts a 1.25 mill increase in its property tax rates this year, the city’s millage rate will end up better off after five years than if the City Council adopts the alternative .5 mill increase, according to city staff.

The 1.25 mill increase would leave the city’s millage rate at 7.168 mills in 2015. But the .50 mill increase, which would necessitate increases of .566 mills each of the following four years to raise the same amount of money, would leave the city’s millage rate at 7.898 to raise the same amount of money, according to Finance Director Paul Salvatore.

Salvatore shared the data as part of Thursday’s budget workshop with council. His figures included the city spending down part of its cash reserve, which would get no lower than 20 percent of the total annual budget expenditures as required by current city policy.

Mayor Don Haddix and Councilman Doug Sturbaum have said they would support a .5 mill increase, while council members Kim Learnard, Vanessa Fleisch and Eric Imker previously said they want to see numbers on a 1.25 millage rate increase.

The 1.25 mills would result in a $108 increase on the tax bill of a home valued at $272,000. The .5 mill mark would result in a $43 increase on the same home.

In an attempt to solve an impasse over funding for the Development Authority of Peachtree City, Learnard suggested the city could afford to hire a part-time staffer to help with the authority’s workload.

Learnard and council members Eric Imker and Vanessa Fleisch previously have opposed a plan for the DAPC to be given $150,000 instead of its current annual $35,000 budget. Hiring a part-time staffer instead, Learnard argued, would help the all-volunteer authority with much of its mission.

Mayor Don Haddix, who supports the $150,000 funding for DAPC, said he thought it was illegal for the city to pay a staffer to handle development authority functions. However, Learnard said other cities are doing it and she has won clearance for the concept from City Attorney Ted Meeker.

Haddix, who said several times that he thought such an arrangement was illegal, ultimately agreed to look into the matter further, and city staff will be getting the job descriptions from other cities who employ staff to handle development authority functions.
Haddix and Councilman Doug Sturbaum both have said they would not vote for any budget that doesn’t include $150,000 funding for DAPC.

The development authority has taken on more of a business recruiting function in recent years, also focusing on working with existing industries and helping buttress merchants at several of the city’s shopping centers.

The authority most recently was credited with helping lure The Fresh Market upscale grocery, which has signed a letter of intent to set up shop at the Peachtree Crossing shopping center at Ga. Highway 54 and Peachtree Parkway. Fresh Market will be using about half of the space that was vacated by the Kroger Company when it closed its operation last year.

Also at Thursday’s budget meeting Councilman Eric Imker ran though a detailed brief rundown of the non-personnel spending in the city’s police, fire, recreation and public works departments. He said his study of those expenditures showed the city was being run very efficiently.

“I’m impressed with where our dollars are going,” Imker said, adding that he wanted the public to see the review of non-personnel spending also. “I wanted the public to see this because I am very convinced we are executing a very efficient operation here.”

Imker also suggested the city adopt a special “budget guidance” for future councils that would tie employee raises to revenue increases. Imker noted that some 60 percent of the budget is for salaries, so the city can’t afford to keep giving raises to employees, and particularly if the city’s growth plateaus as expected.

City Manager Bernie McMullen said his main worry was if the economy took another downturn that such a policy would leave future councils looking at salaries as the first place to cut. He also said the policy would put a good bit of pressure on the city’s finance staff to make more aggressive revenue forecasts.

Imker said his main hope was to have future political candidates have to answer to the public on whether they supported the concept of avoiding raises for city staff when revenues are down.



Mike King's picture

...After five years with no hiring freeze and no restriction on unnecessary spending, the city will retain an as yet unpublished amount of debt with a likely larger city staff. And, did I mention that the cash reserve will have been reduced to twenty percent?

But if one works for the city, this is great news. Obama economics at its finest!

A full sixty percent of revenue going to payroll, and 'staff' planning to increase its numbers. Have we elected a Council that is incapable of slowing the growth of Bernie's empire?

idk_revisited's picture

What is your issue with Bernie McMullen? I guess he's got this amazing power to convince a majority of Council to approve things? You really do give Council absolutely no credit whatsoever. But, hey, you did so well in the election....I smell sour grapes.

Mike King's picture

Your sense of smell has become clouded. Perhaps you need to put down the Marlboros or whatever else you're smoking. Yes, I did lose an election and immediately congratulated the winner. There were no hard feelings.

Please tell me though, how much of the city's revenue being used to pay interest on its debt adds to those services that provides for your quality of life? Multiply that by five years, and you'll see my point.

idk_revisited's picture

So...if you suggest we pay cash for everything, how much money would we need when we have to buy a fire engine? OK, what about a new building or repairs on a building?

Oh, wait, we can't afford it? Yes, you do pay for it in the long term, but those who get the value of it (those who live in the town during the term of the debt) help to contribute to the cost of it, not just those who are there the first year something is purchased, giving everyone else a free ride.

Yeah, sometimes borrowing money is good, if you can pay it back, and we can.

Short-sighted....the problem is NOT the debt - the problem is previous councils didn't raise the taxes when services were increased (a library bond is passed, and the tax rates didn't go up - citizens said I'll pay more in taxes for a better library, and the council at the time said, oh, that's okay, we've got enough money).

Remember, the council today is trying to clean up the mess that other councils put the City in; remember that when Steve Brown tells you what he's done for PTC.

Mike King's picture

Borrowing, is indeed necessary as you say, but once borrowed the priority must be to repay as quickly as one can. The debt being the resultant of a problem of current and previous Councils, which is spending. Currently, the interest that is being paid on the city's debt is likely around a million bucks annually. Do you not see that as being a bit high?

Sure, the current Council is cleaning up messes created by those before them, but prolonging a rising debt only festers with age. You say we can pay back the debt, and we can. I would argue that doing so only by increasing taxes and ignoring sixty percent of the budget(payroll) is not only shortsighted but, in my opinion, showing a weakness of this Council to do what they know is required but is politically harmful.

Give it up Mike. Even if the Town's income reduces to one-half, there will be no significant layoff! Why they are adding people yet!
During the Great Depression (no not this one) the town and counties didn't lay-off Cedric and Malachi, the 40 year officials! Nor their "secretaries!

Mr. King,

I used to respect your posts. Now I see them no differently than anyone else who gets upset that they don't always get their way.

It is unprofessional to assume that the city's income will net out the same or more in the oncoming years. Maybe some inflationary income in a year or so, but that is useless since costs would also increase voiding such income.
Cutting "services" instead of head count is more of a threat to the voters than a reality that might occur.
It is sheer stupidity to keep increasing taxes on people who are themselves getting more desperate as this recession increases! It will destroy the "republican party" also----the tax cutters?
It is time to build the reserve back up, it is going to be needed.
Cut executives salaries 15-20%; layoff 15-20% of the total force--including all departments evenly.
Then if management left can't operate efficiently without "cutting services," change the management!
This is what capitalism does to survive. Civil employees are not socialistically protected.
Believe it or not but this town will survive no matter what cuts are required.

Don Haddix's picture

The 2015 total for the initial 1.25 increase is 7.567, not 7.168. The total for the .5 is 8.297.

The problem with the projections are they assume increasing Sales Tax and Property Tax revenues. The same optimistic view of the last two years that two of us challenged then, and were right, and are challenging now.

While bad enough, if the economy takes the double dip drop like many expect, neither tax increase is going to get us through.

Nor do I believe there will be anything gradual in the changes to the economy the next few years. They will be erratic but faster than predicted in the City Manager model if there is improvement or fall dramatically.

As well with no economic policy there is no growth vision, just tax increases.

My predictions have been far more accurate than the City Managers. So, I will not support a 1.25 increase or any Budget without DAPC funding.

I also disagree with the City Manager that if there is a down turn it result in more pay and benefit cuts for employees to balance the Budget. I believe it will require cutting services, meaning in Rec mainly, which will result in job losses due to the cuts. There just are not enough pay and benefit cuts possible to do the job.

No one wants to cut services but if that scenario becomes reality you will see cities throughout the country dramatically reducing services, merging with the county or moving to regional services. It will not be unique to us.

We are facing many unknowns that make five year predictions impossible. But I do believe by next year we will have a much clearer view of where the economy is going and what the correct course of action should be.

We are at a tipping point that will decide the matter for us in the coming year. I see no way around that being reality.

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

Mike King's picture

A full dose of realism smacking the mayor in the face. Tax increases alone simply won't work. Yes, cutting services are going to be required, but across the board, not just recreation. The how and how many should be determined by Council-It's their responsibility, and it is they who will be held accountable.

Irregardless of cuts and tax increases, the city's debt has to be paid which will hinder any and all measures taken by Council. Address it now while, although substantial, it can be managed.

I don't understand!
Are you saying that the City Manager has no authority over city employees under him and that the council as a whole has to authorize firings? When might that ever happen? Never!

No wonder they raise so much fuss!

Don Haddix's picture

Depends on the hiring and firing. Indeed a number of positions, but far from all, do require Council to do so. And we have done so in the last two years several times, so you are incorrect on your statement.

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

That answer is even fuzzier than before!
Some do, some don't, some been done before! Some what, who?
I remember the Chief of police being taken away by even the County Sheriff----not the council or the Manager!
Now you can't expect to run a city like that.

Did you ever think that if a person knew they could be fired by their boss (one person) for limiting "services," by poor effort that they may produce better with less heads? I know that's how it works in capitalism.

That old excuse of limited pay but guaranteed limited demands and a pension must go. If a department manager knows that a whole bunch of people's approval are required for him to get fired, he will make a lot of friends!
Sounds as if we need to go 100% contracting for everything.

Don Haddix's picture

Is you have not been paying attention. Everything I said here I have been saying over the last two years and in the election last year.

No. We are not cutting Safety.

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

Mike King's picture

...is you are allocating public funds, yours, mine and our neighbors. Our priorities are simply different, go ahead and slash recreation at the expense of growing your police department even larger. Take it to the point of denying children to participate in Little League or Youth Soccer. Turn the Gathering Place into the Shakerag Precinct, and while you're at it have them make you an honorary patrolman. Maybe they'll let you operate the blue lights and siren.

Don Haddix's picture

I do have a roll in allocating public funds and our priorities are different.

We are not growing the PD, just funding it. Safety is overwhelmingly the number one priority of the PTC citizens. So whatever is the source of you disdain for police it is not one shared by most.

Cutting Rec funding does not necessarily mean closing Rec. It can mean transferring some costs to fees instead of property tax in many cases. That puts the choice of spending money on it in the hands of the citizens.

I hope it never reaches that point but if it does we will have some very serious choices to make.

It will be interesting to see what the next Survey says on where the citizens set their priorities. There was very little support for a 1.25 increase in the last Survey, so I find it hard to see even higher increases being supported.

I do listen to the citizens, Mike. After all, as you say, it is our money, speaking as a taxpayer myself.

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

Dondol's picture

Is that we have the second largest ratio police force per capita in the country. Its just over kill, we are not a lawless city, we Don't need
Barney Fiff looking into our back windows at night. The other day I was traveling from 54/PT parkway south and before I got to the 4 way stop at McIntosh Trail I saw 5 patrol cars, no one pulled over just 5 cars going up the same road. You want to really save this city some money start with Skippy's bunch and then work you way towards Bernie, but leave Rec alone. Of course your just like any other mayor we've had, scared to death to stand up to the chief of police.

Don Haddix's picture

That is a totally false claim. We have .5 less police per 1,000 people than the national average. We have the lowest ration in the Metro area.

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

Mike King's picture

...There Mr Mayor, but please point out that as a city we have a much lower propensity for violent crime. In fact, should you take traffic stops away from the PD, they could sit around all day studying for their next certification.

Police seldom prevent crime, they usually show up afterwards only to get confused as to what actually occurred.

Hey, you are getting brave!
I have had two causes to ask for police help.
Once for a theft report, and once for property destruction.
In both cases they tried to talk me out of filing a report!

and I know I am stepping in here. More and better PD = lower propensity for violent crime, not visa versa.

I for one (and many others) thank the PD for the traffic stops.

Now Mike, take that last one back. Surely you are just riled up (as I am known to get). Jeepers, I get confused walking into crowded rooms sometimes.

Mike King's picture

More police personnel do not always equate to less crime. Crime statistics are based on reported instances. More police in PTC usually result in allegations of harassment by energetic (and bored) young officers with too much time on their hands. Pulling a motorist over on a thoroughfare for exceeding the speed limit by a few miles per hour and delaying traffic by blocking half a lane with one or more cruisers is typical in our town.

Don't get me wrong, I support the efforts of police in general, but the current numbers are simply unjustified, in my opinion. Further, the bulk of crime prevention rests with the citizens of any town, and any policeman worth their salt would tell you that without the cooperation of citizens their efforts would be near futile.

Besides, even with a cop in every driveway crime would not be eliminated.

The 5-0's picture

Tell you what Mike, since you think police are useless because we "seldom prevent crime" and are incompetent with the subsequent investigation, then I have a few suggestions for you-

How about we disband the police force and let every man, woman and child fend for themselves? If police aren't here to protect you and prevent crime, then you should just take up a neighborhood watch/militia and take turns patrolling your streets 24/7. You can forget buying a burglar alarm since there will be no one to respond and chase down the thieves. You can roll the dice every time you crank up your car and drive on the city streets. You think the traffic situation is bad now? Just imagine if everyone did whatever he or she pleased? Imagine all the fatalities due to PTC having their own mini-autobahn, or folks blowing through stop signs and traffic lights, or people driving around the crosswalk arms to cut in front of trains. Heck, since police are nothing more to you than secretaries with guns, you can just file your own incident report or insurance claim yourself. You don't need us to go to accident reconstruction classes to tell the insurance company what really happened. You don't need crime scene technicians to process your house for prints or take DNA samples from a rape victim. You don't need detectives to interview/interrogate countless suspects, to be on call and chase down leads at 3am, or testify in court for you. You don't need narcotics agents to get drug dealers off the streets. You really don't need patrol officers to enforce the laws that your elected reps placed on the books. I'm sure most officers would love to have their weekends back, or not have to work the graveyard shift, or to spend Christmas/birthdays/Thanksgiving/once-in-a-lifetime events with their families instead of working the streets for you. All cops would love to take the targets off our backs and not have to worry about being shot, our families harassed and our homes vandalized because of our occupation. All cops would love to end the baseless civil suits and complaints leveled against us. People like you don't care. We aren't in this for the money and we aren't in this for the power. We are in this because we have a personal stake in our communities. We live here and we want it to be a safe place to live and raise a family. There is no place in the country that is immune from crime. The only reason why PTC and Fayette County have a high standard of living is because of our law enforcement and judicial system. Fayette County and PTC don't have a wall built around or borders. There is NOTHING to keep the rapists, drug dealers, murderers and thieves out of your city but men and women with a badge and gun. Our mere presence is often enough to scare away most criminals.

Just wanted to throw in my two cents.

Mike King's picture

Nice vent there guy. After all you've said, can you please state for the record specific crime preventions by the PTC police over the last month? Year? I thought not.

Since your emotions may have gotten the best of you, please do not misconstrue an opinion objecting to the manning of an oversized police force with a lack of respect for individual officers. Also, as far as professional sacrifice, I'll compare experience pretty much anytime.

The 5-0's picture

It is impossible to say what crimes were averted due to our officers being highly visible. Just as it is impossible to say how many violent crimes were averted due to conceal carry laws or tough judges, et cetera...

Concerning professional sacrifice- you aren't the only person to serve your country; whether it be on foreign shores or at home. You'd be hard-pressed to find a profession with a higher concentration of military vets than you see with law enforcement. Many of us have seen combat overseas, but law enforcement are fighting a battle here at home every day.

If we all had a million dollars we would eat well!
Highly visible police is not the answer.
Twenty-five people can dig a 10 foot long, 3' deep ditch, but so can 2!
There has to be an end at some point. Didn't we find it in 2008 pretty well, after eight years or more of incompetence? It ain't over yet!

Yeah Mike, I think back to all that shift work I did, 3 rotating shifts, 365 days a yr, never mind holidays or birthdays. But hey, that's what I signed up for--whatever was necessary to get the job done. And that's what LEA Pros sign up for too. What I do believe is that the physical presence of Police Officers has a positive effect on a city/community, just like the physical presence of military members will--it's a natural feeling for citizens to have and that's a good thing.

"Professional sacrifice" and a nickel candy bar are both worth 5 cents!"
Don't remember the originator of that.

Had an uncle who was given three purple hearts, never came home between them. Never heard him ever say one word about any of it, refused to do so.
Then there is the Hero football player!!!!!
It is all relative to the circumstances. What kind of a hero would order two nuclear bombs dropped on populated cities?
Was Al Gore a hero---he was in "Nam." Great personal sacrifice!

Just ignore him, as he has proven more than a few times by his postings to only be one of the clueless “experts” on everything, that post here frequently. This is the same guy whom recently posted up complaining about the “expense of the Mustang” that PCPD has. When it was posted that the city didn’t actually buy the Mustang as it was given to the city by the state, he responded back with a posting that it was still “more expensive”? He than posted up something to the effect that the officer assigned to the vehicle would have more of a propensity to engage in pursuits, endangering the citizens and creating a liability, although since it’s been re-assigned anyway to the DARE officer I’m not so sure those pursuits down the school hallways are something to be concerned about.
The scariest thing for me about this guy is he actually ran for city council not that long ago, and some people actually believe what he says. His postings of late have almost bordered on the level of that other frequent poster Bonkers, a/k/a Courthouserules or whatever alias he’s using, only Kings posting come with half truths or partially correct information and less rambling than Bonkers. It’s become obvious Mr. King has issues with City Manager McMullen as well as the PCPD.
I know from listening to PD radio traffic that it’s not uncommon for calls to be holding, as Officers are tied up on other calls – Oh, with too many PCPD officers how can that be. These people that post up about too many city employees and too many officers haven’t a clue.

Saw my name after aka, whoever that is, and find it hard to figure out what you are talking about. If anyone rambles more than this, I won't read it.
Isn't the DARWE officer the Chief's wife or is that the Sheriff? Can't keep up!
These "held" calls when no policeman or policewoman is available, are they mostly on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th shifts?
Of the 80 or so how many are on days and how many on each of the other shifts---I assume DARWE is days. Do the dog cops work third shift?
I understand 12 on and 12 off shifts. Is that for the whole 80 or so, or just for privates and corporals and males, and of course no desk sitters.

If we could ever fully understand the manning on all shifts and the schedules, maybe we would understand better! Are we not capable of having an opinion on the management in these hard times?

For instance, when the Chief is off, who is the boss? Do any senior officers work the other 4 shifts except days?
Is most crime at night? Does Captain Dove actually exist? Day shift I assume? Is Major Brown kin to the lawyer?
How many illegal Mexicans have been arrested by asking for their papers since Arizona?
I saw at least 35 Mexicans in a drivaround the other day. I didn't ask any for papers.
Must have been 100s here during the construction heyday!
How much time is logged in court about speeding tickets and such?
Need to know to understand. Money running out!

Every time a city is studied as to how efficient they are, they always recommend a considerable reduction in the holy grails!
Dekalb is supposed to layoff 900! Their work effort is pitiful.

Mayor, just how many vehicle tickets does the PTC police department write per year? That is no way to justify their existence.
It can be a dangerous job on occasion but the more we have the more dangerous it would be for them!

You can't draw a complete conclusion by only comparing cities' population. Dunwoody, Redan, Rome, Hinesville and Mableton are all comparable to the population of PTC and all are different in socio-economic, geographical, crime rates and other factors than PTC. By just using a population chart, you are comparing apples to oranges, Mayor. I have no desire to compromise the safety of my family (it's one of the reasons I live here), but I agree with some of the other posters here. With all the overlap of patrolling going on, seems to me there could be an analysis completed to better utilize existing police staff.

More than two members of my family have been involved with law-enforcement. As an administrator of a public school in a crime infested area - I worked very closely with law enforcement officers for the protection of the families of my students as well as the staff at the school. Effective policing cannot be judged by a citizen who sees a number of patrol cars at one spot, etc. It is true - that police work in a small town is not like what we see on TV - and can be 'boring'. It is true - that with today's technology, officers 'may' roll on a call when they are not needed. Maybe borntorun has inside knowledge of unnecessary/overlapping of patrolling. . .but cutting down the number of law enforcement officers in Fayette County is an open invitation to lawbreakers, IMO.

I think you misread my posting. Nowhere did I say we need to "cut down on the number of law enforcement officers". I was trying to make two points.

The first point was for the Mayor and Council to justify the need for additional public safety staff only on city populations is rather shortsighted and not a complete analysis of what is needed. You state that you work in a crime infested area. Sorry to hear that. But one would be hard pressed to say PTC qualifies as a crime infested area. This has less to do with the number of police patrolling the streets than the fact we are blessed to live in a high socio-economic area with very low poverty and unemployed citizens. Plenty of studies are out there that correlate an increase in crime to high poverty areas.

The second point was before we add to the cost of public safety, lets make sure we are utilizing existing resources and staff in the most efficient manner. That principle should be applied to ALL government functions...yep, even public safety. If the need is justified, then yes, by all means add staff. I just don't think that study has been done yet.

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