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Bond idea withdrawn for Gathering Place expansion

A proposed expansion of Peachtree City’s Gathering Place senior citizens center will not be brought before city voters after all.

Instead the City Council is considering a poll of city residents in the city’s newsletter

perhaps in January, with the potential of adding more items to the funding list including the purchase of a replacement bubble for the Kedron pool.

The bubble allows the pool to be used as an indoor facility when the city’s other pools are closed. A new one is estimated to cost $250,000, but the item is not necessarily seen as a necessity.

Other potential items to discuss include new cart paths, the dredging of Lake Peachtree north, landscaping of Ga. Highway 54 West and other recreation items.

“I think it would be great to take stock and it would be great to prioritize those things,” said Councilwoman Kim Learnard.

At last week’s City Council meeting, Councilman Eric Imker said that the city will have to be clear to voters that any such items must be funded with a corresponding property tax increase.

Imker suggested that the city could ask citizens to support a one-time millage rate increase to cover the Gathering Place expansion of about 3,800 square feet. That increase would only be enacted for one year and would cost the average homeowner about $40, Imker said.

By using cash instead of financing the project, the city will save about $350,000 in interest and other fees.

The estimated project cost is $789,000 for adding two new rooms that combined could be used as a room similar in size to the current “large room” at the Gathering Place.

The project includes a corridor that will allow users of the new space to avoid going through the existing large room and disturbing any activities there, said Leisure Services Director Randy Gaddo.

Were council to have put the project on the bond referendum in November, it would have had to make a concrete decision on the matter in a manner of weeks, and several council members balked at making such a decision so quickly.

Imker said for the expansion project to have his support, it will have to get more than just a thin majority support on a city survey. For example, a 51 percent vote in favor would not be sufficient, and he would like to see the numbers reach about 60 percent in favor.

The lack of available space at the Gathering Place has been discussed by council recently as the city began to combine its amphitheater and tourism operations at the building next door to the Gathering Place, which contains the amphitheater’s box office. Next door to the box office is a room that has been used for other recreation programming including bridge groups, fitness classes and yoga classes.

That room was to have become part of the city’s new visitors center, but that plan was voted down last month by the city council, which scaled it back to avoid including the recreation room.



Mike King's picture

Using cash to pay for the gathering Place project would save $350K of taxpayer money. Funny, however, that the other Councilmembers don't recognize such savings. Glad to hear that someone on Council doesn't see a survey of a minority of citizens as a mandate for spending monies the city doesn't have.

I'm still unsold about a 3800 square foot expansion costing $789K, it must have something to do with 'approved' contractors.

I am very glad to see Councilman Imker advocating a pay-as-you go approach to PTC city government. Also, as for the dust-up between Councilman Imker and Mayor Haddix about their respective pensions, the source of Councilman Imker's pension is irrelevant. Regardless of the source of their pensions or lack of one, the mandate of our elected city officials is to carry out their responsibilities (fiduciary among them) to the citizens of PTC, and not to try to balance the interests of the city workers with those of the taxpayers. Also, if term limits are good for elected officials, why is not the same true for city employees? Is it a good idea to have 3, 4 or 5 mayors and councils over a 20-year period but retain the same city manager/police chief/fire chief, etc. over the same span? I think not.

The only thing for sure about Peachtree City is their tight fiscal position in a very weak economy which may last for a couple more years.

Mayor Haddix ran as a fiscal conservative and he appears to be in a tax hike and spend mode. The $150,000 for the development authority is not a wise decision either.

Ninja, I'm not sure about your term limits on city employees though.

Mike King's picture

It is my belief that this economy will not improve substantially until the Executive and Legislative Branches of the federal government are controlled by different parties. One seems to bring the other toward the center, and that will likely not happen until 2012.

Something is pulling at Haddix regarding spending, but he is indeed sensitive to the issue. I agree that he is acting more like a teenager with a credit card than a fiscal conservative.

City employees are fine as institutional knowledge can not be replaced, but each of the 'contract staffers' could easily be replaced with substantial savings to the city.

Assuming that changing parties would help with the economy---from democrat to republican---in 2012, I disagree! The TEA party should be in shape by then to try and do the job.
Now since a republican administration caused this current deep recession (before it is over) why would you think that Palin (the leader) or Gingrich or Romney, or Perdue, or Schwarzenegger, or Louisiana Governor---you know, old fast sprayer, or that feller in Mississippi (big feller) with one horrible accent, or Giuliano of the woods, or about anyone from South Carolina, or Alabama, or Oxendine, or Westmoreland (GA I think,) or General McChrystal, might do better? Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, and Coulter sound like good VPs!

It seems that "spending" is going to be your forte when you run again for something! Sonny is today begging Washington for 2-3 hundred million for the fall! (why can't GA pay their own bills for something?) Don't use that---people are wise to "non-spending" "conservatives."
Just don't use the bypasses!

Mike King's picture

You old curmudgeon! It's time for your meds, so be a nice old fart and take the green one and then the yellow one. Remember not to take the blue one, else you may have a four hour blogging session.

By the way, McChrystal is a lifelong democrat.

Eisenhower I think also was a "lifelong" democrat or nothing.
Isn't McChrystal raising hell now about the democrat administration? Hell they let him keep his stars for his pension----not that he will need it with the books he will put his name to, and all.
He should have put the Taliban on salary as did General Pertaeus in Iraq.
Petraeus is doing that again in Afghanistan. Mercenaries hiring mercenaries!

I don't recall a bonker$--there was a doppler observer on here once!

Cyclist's picture

Nicely Done!!!

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

The way Mayor Haddix is steadfastly clinging to his position on DAPC funding and keeping the second city employee pension suggests to me some quid pro quo for past or future support on something. As for keeping some city employees for long periods, perhaps there could be a handful of positions that require deep institutional knowlege. One would think City Manager would be at the top of that list, but is Bernie Mac really with 300k per year? I'm sure a city manager from another municipality could be hired at half the pay to handle the position with no drop-off in job performance, and perhaps even bring some fresh ideas to the table. Entrenched city staff, whether hired, contract, or elected, is not a good idea in my book.

Mike King's picture

The highest paid of the city 'staff' are contracted. It seems as if the city worker pay scale didn't reach the level they required for continued employment. You are absolutely correct in that an infusion of new blood would bring a fresh outlook and ideas. You'll notice that it's city workers that are being furloughed or laid off and not the six figure types.

Thanks for the info. Are the details of the contracts public information? I would like to take a look. Since it is the rank and file city worker that is being laid off/furloughed, it would appear that the dual pension system is aimed at helping out the contract employees, as their pay levels are sufficient for payment into their 401k plans, whereas your first-year police officer or staffer is probably just scraping buy.

Also, Mayor Haddix says that DAPC is needed to clean up the Photocircuits site. Why can't the council move on that without involvement from DAPC? Anyone know what the sticking point is there?

Mike King's picture

I do not think the individual contracts for the city manager, resource manager, etc are public information although since they are paid with public funds they should be. You are correct in your assumption on the dual pension system, it is definitely designed to benefit those at the top. Newly assigned policemen or firemen usually start here but move on leaving PTC holding the bag for their initial training costs.

The clean up of photocircuits has been left unaddressed for a decade or so. No one seems willing to to take on the task, and the funding of DAPC will have no bearing on getting this mess cleaned.

Strange if the salary data is not available. I am pretty sure that one can find out how much any state employee makes. I am also puzzled why Haddix would tie the cleanup of Photocircuits to the funding of DAPC, unless he is playing politician. He generally seems to be a good guy, but his logic on some issues appears to be askew.

Mike King's picture

Since these 'staffers' are on individual contracts they may be held in a need to know type status. It would be nice to publish these contracts.

Haddix is determined to have his way on DAPC and has said as much. If memory serves, he has stated that he will hold up budget discussions until he gets his way. He seems to have a habit of seeking public input when it suits him.

PTC Observer's picture

Mr. Haddix instead of putting a survey in the update about one line item, why don't you put a list of proposed expenditures and let us rank them. Let's say the top five or ten items on the proposed budget.

Furthermore, why don't you post these in all public places including the website, public buildings, library etc. You could also ask retail stores to participate.

People entering these buildings and stores can cast a ballot for a ranking of these expenses.

The poll would be unscientific but would at least be as good as something you have on line that is used by just a few.

That a corresponding tax increase will come with anything!
Nah, go ahead and spend $800,000 on credit and don't spend $300,000 cash for the old dolks! The world may end before we could pay all that!
A pool cover of a quarter million-- that is nothing----do it now. One-half mil!
I didn't know that 60% in favor was now required for old folks expansions. Good guess!
I surely do like that idea of decision making by absentee ballots by maybe people without "papers" voting!

I think that is a ridiculous amount to pay. The budget is so tight and they keep squeezing services, how can we afford this.

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