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Does anybody in local government understand debt?

When one contemplates the size of our national debt, currently at $12-13 trillion, give or take a couple hundred billion, and then realizes that there are states that cannot meet payroll without help from the federal government, we simply shake our heads in frustration.

Our blowhards in Congress with little or no business experience from which to draw speak like they know far better than average Americans who actually work and raise a family, all the while balancing their checkbook.

Owing sums of money that far exceed expected revenue, then living beyond those means, forfeits the basic principles of individual freedom.

Does any self-respecting parent willingly pass along their debt to their children or grandchildren to live in a virtual serfdom to repay the debts handed down to them?

Do we foresee the concept of living debt-free becoming foreign and incomprehensible for the average American?

Many a politician would hope that to be true. How many breadwinners understand that they now work until May or June of each year before they actually are earning for themselves and family? Those who are content to allow debt to control their lives really have no concept of freedom.

Sadly, those elected and hired at local levels are afflicted with the same mentality, that being to spend freely without fear of reprisal. For some reason the size of Peachtree City’s government continues to swell as if we are in the midst of a great economic boom. The current and previous mayors and councils either lacked the fortitude to at least slow this entitlement cancer on the citizenry, or simply cared too much about their political futures.

Currently, Peachtree City is indebted for nearly $19.5 million, which is almost 80 percent of its total annual revenue. To meet the immediate shortfall, a tax hike of around 1.25 mils is anticipated, which will only get us through fiscal year 2010 when a larger hike will be necessary. Could it be that our elected officials are afraid of making those hard decisions they know are required?

Take for example, our city manager: He has a yearly contract amounting to more than our elected congressman, and has in his contract that the city must pay him a $10,000 differential for insurance he already has by being retired military. Double dipping as a government employee is one thing, but this borders on ridiculous.

Further, should this same individual have his contract terminated, the city is required to pay a substantial severance. How it is that anyone at City Hall can state that there is no waste remaining in the city budget is beyond me.

We have a fire chief who actually believes that the citizens owe him his livelihood regardless of city revenue. Should this same chief had bothered to exercise normal supervision over an arson investigation, a substantial embarrassment could have been avoided, but he had his scapegoat and has absolved himself of responsibility for his department. No room for savings, but we the citizens of Peachtree City remain obligated for his second retirement.

Currently every man, woman and child in Peachtree City owes some five hundred bucks simply to settle the current debt of our town. Add that to the forty-some-thousand dollars per individual American plus as yet undisclosed amounts for states like California, New York, and Michigan for the national debt, and you’ve got a sum that would bankrupt many families just starting out. But the size of government continues to grow despite the sheer incompetence of the bureaucracies it creates.

Are we to continue to make minimum payments favored by banks, credit card companies, and politicians to increase the amount of accrued interest and exist as virtual serfs to those we owe?

That is exactly what the current mayor is looking to do by raising property taxes this year and by an even larger amount over the next four years while ignoring the city’s habitual overspending.

My point here is to point out that when families, companies, and even governments ignore their debt, they lose their basic freedom of choice. America was built by the individuals of private enterprise very willing to pay their fair share of taxes expecting those they elect to hold the same values. Ignoring a nearly twenty million dollar debt inherited by this City Council will only serve to enhance the profit margin for those to whom the city is indebted.

This town tossed one incompetent mayor by an embarrassing margin considering the incompetent was the incumbent. The citizens of this fair town have long memories and expect results from those we elect. I simply wonder if the current mayor and council are prepared for the same fate.

Michael L. King

Peachtree City, Ga.



Mr. King. Please get your facts right. You dribble through 7 paragraphs until finally getting to some erroneous statistics. You say a 1.25 mil increase will only get the city through FY2010. Wrong. It will get the city through FY2015 and leave a balanced budget. (Assuming of course council can find a few hundred thousand in cuts or revenue to not need the small mil 'bumps' in FYs 12-15.

The city is not in debt $19.5M. The city is anticipating a potential 'shortfall' over the next 5 years of $18.5M. The city actually has bonds debts (principle) remaining to the tune of about $5M. This is included in the $18.5M.

Why are you spewing out wrong 'facts?”
I sat through a couple of the budget workshops. Apparently you didn't.

The city manager is not 'double dipping' on health benefits.

And on, and on, and on. You are a poor fact researcher. But since you got your numbers out first, well, I guess they are the ones that will be believed. Is that your game?

Don Haddix's picture

The 1.25 is only for the 2011 Budget. It is followed up with four years of .196 each. Five years of increases, not one.

Plus on our debt we are currently paying $3.3 million each year on debt management. The debt is far more than $5 million.

I do agree Mike gets a lot of facts wrong, though.

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

Mike King's picture

As Mayor, how much could you get accomplished for our town with $3.3M annually?

You might just get that overdue and previously approved pay raise.

Have a good evening.

Mike King's picture

The 1.25 mil increase (if passed) is designed to take us until next year when we likely are to be taxed more. My terminology would be that this simply places a band-aide on a sucking chest wound. The long term debt/obligation is correct. It's still spending money that the city does not have.

Perhaps if you stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, while attending the budget meetings, your city employee 'skirt' wouldn't show.

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