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Imker remains non-committal on PTC tax hike

There was a public hearing Thursday night on Peachtree City’s millage rate, but it didn’t lead to any more clarity on what the city’s property tax rate will be for next year.

While most of the discussion Thursday night was spent on how much to fund the city’s development authority, the nearly one hour hearing ended without the City Council resolving an impasse on the millage rate.

So far there are two votes on council for a 1.25 mill increase, another two for a .5 mill increase, and a fifth council member, Eric Imker, continues to play his cards close to the vest and has not committed to any millage rate increase.

Councilwomen Kim Learnard and Vanessa Fleisch have supported the 1.25 mill increase which would result in a $108 a year increase on a home valued at $272,000.

Mayor Don Haddix and Councilman Doug Sturbaum have said they prefer a more austere .5 mill increase which would result in a $43 a year increase on that same $272,000 home.

The 1.25 mill increase would eat away at more than half of a projected $18 million shortfall over the next five years. Most of the shortfall is blamed on the end of the funding from the city’s share of the recently-expired countywide transportation sales tax and the likely lower take the city will have in the future from regular sales tax revenues because other areas in the county will grow more compared to the city population wise.

Those sales tax revenues are calculated based on each jurisdictions share of the county’s overall population.

A final decision from council on the millage rate is expected in a formal vote in several weeks. After Thursday’s council meeting, Imker told The Citizen he remains “on the fence” about the millage rate.

Almost the entire hearing was devoted to discussion of another council budget impasse. Haddix and Sturbaum have said they would not approve any budget that does not include $150,000 in funding for the city’s development authority, up from the current $30,000 funding level.

Sturbaum and Haddix said they want the authority to have the money to hire an economic development executive director to help the all volunteer authority lure business and industry here while also working to retain such ventures.

A counter proposal from Fleisch, Imker and Learnard would instead have the city hire that director. While Haddix challenged the legality of such an arrangement, City Attorney Ted Meeker said it would be legal for the city to hire an employee who would answer to the wishes of the development authority.

Sturbaum made a fact-laden powerpoint presentation to the audience, explaining that he wanted the authority to be able to pursue leads on 19 different companies connected to the Sany heavy equipment company whose headquarters is under construction on the southern end of the industrial park. Sturbaum also said he wanted the authority to pursue federal funds to clean up contamination at the former Photocircuits site in the city’s industrial park.

Sturbaum said the authority is also important in keeping local industries here, and he noted that one such entity in the city could potentially be relocating elsewhere, with the potential of local jobs lost.

Sturbaum contended that bringing workers to the city helps the local retail economy and also the residential housing market.

An audience member asked Sturbaum why he didn’t support hiring the DAPC staffer as a city employee. He responded that he questioned the legality of the concept, and he thinks the DAPC needs someone who has certification as an economic developer.

Development Authority member Grey Durham said the volunteer authority members are stretched thin as they make strides in working with local retailers to help beef up their business. He encouraged the city to appropriately fund the authority.

“We are terribly underfunded,” Durham said. “... I thought council ought to look at it like we’re making an investment in the future to bring in new businesses. Our board is overworked and we can only maintain that for a period of time.”

Durham said not increasing the authority’s budget “would be a draconian mistake.”

The hearing ended abruptly when Imker moved for it to be closed. His motion passed on a 3-2 vote with Fleisch and Learnard voting in favor with Imker and Sturbaum and Haddix voting against.

Imker said he felt the hearing should end because the same information was being rehashed over and over again.

Immediately before Imker’s motion to adjourn, Haddix asked why there was a move afoot to have a city employee hired whose duties would be split between the city and the development authority.

The question went unanswered.



Don Haddix's picture

For clarity, the job description for a Coordinator puts the Coordinator in control of the goals, projects, material created for and so on of DAPC. Ted Meeker confirmed that was not legal to do. DAPC was in control and the Coordinator could work on behalf of them subject to the control and approval by DAPC, which is not the goal of the proposal.

Learnard had prior proposed the tweaked description from Alpharetta as proof they could exercise this control. It also expanded some controls over CVB and Airport materials.

Apharetta has no development authority to control and makes no attempt on their website to offer any authority functionality through that office. It is really an information clearing house and coordinator for their development services department job.

Fleisch had offered Valdosta as a proof model, so I contacted their Coordinator and Development authority.

Per their own words, in an email, the Coordinator has a budget of $89,000, only deals with professional offices, restaurants and retail and has ZERO (emphasis her's) control over their development authority.

There is a downtown development authority with a budget of $108,000.00 a year and it own Staff that it shares with their Main Street. The development authority has a budget of about $800,000.00 a year and has its own staff.

When Ted Meeker brought up the Griffin example I did some research this morning. Their set up is basically a mirror image of Valdosta. Same if you want to look further at Douglasville and other cities.

The motion to adjourn was made when I asked why not take the proposed Coordinator budget, add it the the DAPC current $35,000.00 and fill in the difference to the $150,000.00 to fund a Director and efforts that could be done in the most complete way? What was the purpose of wanting to have a city employee Coordinator doing DAPC work under Staff control? I received no answer.

This proposal as is will not work because it is illegal.

As of now there isn't even a Budget proposed for this position.

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

NUK_1's picture

"A counter proposal from Fleisch, Imker and Learnard would instead have the city hire that director. While Haddix challenged the legality of such an arrangement, City Attorney Ted Meeker said it would be legal for the city to hire an employee who would answer to the wishes of the development authority."

Are you saying that Meeker is wrong about it being legal? I have to say that in this case I have more confidence in the attorney's opinion than the non-attorneys on Council.

Don Haddix's picture

No. I am saying that is not what they are proposing nor what the job descriptions says. It puts the Coordinator in charge of DAPC and answering to the Community Development Services Interim Director, thus the City Manager. No mention of any control or oversight by DAPC.

Fleisch tried to defend the job description as written. She was told by the City Attorney it had to be rewritten. She did not reply.

Other cities have hired employees who are contracted to the authorities. They are not then a city employee reporting to a Staff Director but working directly for the authority.

No city with a coordinator claims to do anything but work in cooperation with authorities. Never in charge of them.

I cannot find any city with an authority of any kind of scope that does not have its own Staff.

Look at the County. The FCDA Board of Directors hire their Director even though they are funded by the Commissioners.

I have taken the training from GMA and others and had contacts with the specialists. All agree an authority needs its own Staff because they can do more.

It just is not the best way to go at this and has some illegal components as written. Merge the money together, give the $150,000 and let them do their job. As Valdosta and other models of success prove that is the way to go.

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

NUK_1's picture

I agree with you on this issue. Having a city employee in charge of DPAC seems like an obvious legal issue that can't be justified and am glad Meeker didn't let that fly.

I know PTC has in the past allowed city employees to be contracted to authorities, but the city employees were not in charge of the authorities by any means and were simply contracted help. That's workable and can be beneficial to both parties but the idea being tossed around by Fleisch sure isn't.

PTC Observer's picture

As I have posted before, it's not unreasonable to have a new position for this effort. However, just like in business we need to set some goals and if the goals are not achieved then no more funding for this position.

We can't keep creating positions based on the notion that they are good ideas but not have any accountability for some results.

So, go for it Mr. Mayor but put some goals down for us all to see and agree to since we are paying for it. If the position doesn't pay for itself then let don't create something that is perpetual.

Give us the goals Mr. Mayor and make them stick to the new employee.

What you are suggesting is called "Management By Objective" and doesn't work, for no one will establish objectives that can't be achieved. Not a good management technique.

Your comments are spot on. It is apparent that none of these posters have the slightest clue about economic development and business recruitment. Economic development is an ongoing process requiring lots of investment (yep, that would be money and marketing!) that may not pay off for 2,3,4 or 5 years and it is hard if not impossible to quantify this type of activity. What you can do is make sure your community is business friendly and you have adequate infrastructure (roads, sewer, rail, etc) in place to make your community attractive to prospects. Economic development is also heavily reliant on building relationships at the state and regional levels. But there are a lot of reasons a company may or may not decide to relocate to any given community outside the scope of a designated staff person. PTC is 15 miles off the interstate which works against it for certain types of industries. And one of the biggest considerations is a well trained and large available workforce. And just because we are experiencing high unemployment does not mean that is the case.

I remember MBOs, that was when one could measure what people did in a year. We actually made products in the USA once upon a time.

But how does one measure jobs where objectivbes aren't measureable?
I think they are measured if they cause no trouble and are very cooperative. (we don't fire nobody system, unless!)

Don, we have lived in PTC for just one year and it has been interesting to see how government management is done here compared to our former home area in Gwinnett for 20 years of their most rapid growth. Key to economic growth in a community, preservation of a tax base, and stable increase in property values are simple: Good Schools and Job Growth. Gwinnett saw it's tax base begin to collapse and their growth go flat as they ignored failing school districts that lead to the death spiral of property values in those areas. With transient residents in the areas with low property values and poor schools you begin to have a strong split between good and not so good....and guess what, the not so good begins to bleed into the "good". PTC is unique...not just because of the work life balance and the great recreational environment the paths offer, but the schools continue to excel. Planning for the future means ensuring that the development authority has the tools and resources to attract appropriate jobs to the community. With the limitation of new growth in housing, the county has to consider how will it grow its property tax base. Annexation is a costly and unwise option that would dilute the closeness of our community. Thinking toward the future, increasing property taxes is not wise. However, growing the value of the tax base to have a similar effect is...everyone wins. Bring good paying Jobs here and fund the schools sufficiently so they can continue excel. You will create an environment where people will add onto older homes (like you see happening in Decatur around the Oak Grove school district just to get into the PTC school district). Whether the job is in Fayette County or in PTC proper, doesn't really matter, just that folks don't have to drive to Atlanta to work. It is imperative to get the Development Authority glitches worked out and funded. We absolutely need to attract the suppliers for the SANY plant. And we cannot afford to lose committed relocations as was just announced by Low Temp Industries because of a SNAFU by the development authority agencies not communicating with each other and acting like a bunch of country bumpkins. I am encouraged that you are looking to other counties and cities to learn what has worked well. I hope the council will continue to make this a priority to get worked out in such a way as to collaborate with our bigger economic partner, Fayette County, and streamline economic development across the county, keeping PTC interests at the forefront so we can enjoy another 50 years of stable, steady growth.

Karen Rands & Jim Bock Peachtree City Residents

grassroots's picture

E_SLPOST promised lower property taxes.

Don Haddix's picture

Show me one I have made I have not kept.

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

Cyclist's picture

Thanks for hanging around this board to discuss various issues affecting your city. I wish other elected officials would do the same. I even suspect that my buddy CHR$ would agree with me. &#9786;

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

I already have agreed but I advised him to just report not retort!

Don Haddix's picture

It is part of the more open government I believe in.

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

yellowjax1212's picture

Open Government is a great goal but apparently your definition is terribly flawed.
Blog arguments with Mike King (and others) is not Open Government. It is just silly and demeaning to you and the office of Mayor.
Please continue to give pertinent information when necessary in the proper venue (NOT THE CITIZEN BLOG). If people want to know this information they can find it in some other place.
Mr. Mayor, you must resist the temptation to snap back at bloggers on this site. They continue to goad you into making yourself look silly.
I can't wait until you and Steve Brown begin your Blog war. Look out Cal you may need more bandwidth.

Mike King's picture


Don Haddix's picture

The problem is when you don't state what I promised correctly you can make it sound like anything you want.

I said cut costs, which I have. I didn't say Budget because there are overhead costs that increase every year. So, if you hold even you have still cut costs to be even.

We are more transparent. I cannot even believe you said that one.

Never said payroll. Things like insurance costs have been increasing significantly every year. We have fewer total employees and have given no raises.

While not perfect we do have more consensus on Council and are getting more done on Council than the last Council.

I cannot help it there has been some backing away from promises by some, such with funding DAPC.

My promises have been kept.

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

Mike King's picture

Overhead costs like the position of Asst City Mgr that the citizens of PTC will continue to pay since you elected to retire the guy and stick us with the bill? Similar to that of Murray when you could have saved the city money.

Transparency Don is hiding those little things during 'closed' sessions.

You are correct, you never said payroll but you did say bring into line with business models. Which I do not recall having allowed 63% for personnel costs that are higher (percentage wise)now than when you took the office of mayor.

Would you care to comment on the fact that PTC pays in excess of $63K per employee?

Show me concensus on the budget.

Don Haddix's picture

Vested employees are entitled to retirement benefits.

As for executive session issues, again, learn some law. Legal cases, property acquisition and personnel issues are all we do. Nothing else. I for one have no intention of being found guilty of an ethics charge for being public on those issues.

Total costs are higher because the insurance rates took a big leap this year, in example, even after cutting benefits and increasing contributions last year.

On the personnel costs your trying to make it sound like your numbers are all average paycheck numbers, which is wrong. There are other personnel costs included. How about the fact in private sector the average was $59,909 in 2008, which includes janitors, fast food, waitresses etc?

Yep, I know you want to fire police and slash pay and benefits.

Really reaching on the Budget statement.

You really need to learn the facts before making declarations, Mike.

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

mudcat's picture

There is no way that the average salary per employee is $63,000.
This is city government. I can see an average of maybe $24,000, but $63,000 is just nuts. Where do you get those numbers?

Mike King's picture

Assume $25.5 M total revenue, factor 63% to payroll then divide by 255 employees.

Granted, the total revenue should be closer to $26M, but I'm giving the benefit of doubt. 63% equals $16,065000.00 divided by the 255 employees gives $63,000.00. Figures are from the 2010 budget.

I'm sure I just heard the collective laugh of about 255 people. I doubt that every employee: including EMT'S, firefighters, librarians, cops, public works, recreation and secretaries make $63,000. According to the PTC website of the two full time positions open, mechanics start at $16 plus change / hour, cops start at $33,000 plus change yearly. Both a far cry from 63,000. I strongly doubt most city workers start out at or jump straight to $63,000. Now, like most businesses, I can see management and people who have worked for the city for years making more than a new employee.

Edit: realized that my wording could be insulting to some.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

Or maybe they include payroll taxes, health insurance, retirement benefits (2 accounts, I recall) and all the other stuff that the city - or any business, has to pay out above and beyond what the employee perceives as his salary. Used to be 150% of the salary was the actual cost of having an employee.

Even so, that would mean an average salary of around $42,000 - still seems high.

Live free or die!

NUK_1's picture

If all taxes and benefits are included, that average is probably not THAT far off. Obviously, the average or median salary isn't 63K, but around 35K or so seems about right. With the elimination of the lowest paid jobs last year that was bringing the average down in Public Works and the department managers all above 100K and Bernie VERY overpaid in comparison to other city managers who also had more experience in the first place and a track record, I'd guess around 35K is average.

Since the previous Council and some current now always include the total cost of the 23 jobs eliminated, why not also include that when it comes to analyzing the present personnel costs?

The $60,000 + number is about correct.

To those who don't care what the cost is they always say estimated numbers are too high.

There are Lt. and Captains making 60,000-75,000 who always use the 33,000 number also. Neither one has the benefits included. A $75,000 dollar person costs the city about $115,000.00!
A Town Manager at $200,000, costs $300,000,00.
The few at $34,000 cost about $52,000.

We also always layoff the ones making the least whether the high paid ones patrol or not! Seniority and tenure is a socialist thing, not capitalist.

Start at the top (Chief of Police); then add the next ranking guy; then the next' etc., all the way to a new hire, then total the dollars and divide by the total.
Now, add health insurance (maybe $7-10,000 for city share), now add social security ($2-3,000), then add equipment for each cop (?), then a car for each cop, on and on........

People are bad at math.......

I don't know why they always use starting salary as a base when only a very small percentage make minimum! Then only for a short while.
King calculated it the correct way: actual dollars spent divided by head count.
Frankly, I doubt 63,000 covers it. The less cops we have, the less gas they burn, and so on.
A reduction in police doesn't mean more crime; an increase in police doesn't mean less crime. There are other factors.

Fayette County has a development Authority that was also a big help in getting Sany to PTC. Also from what I have read is that the FCDA worked with PTC to get Clayton State Collage a campus in PTC, and most recently with NCR and the State of Georgia. This county needs to come together and combine services. DAPC and FCDA need to be made into one. That way it can benefit the whole county. I also think that Fayette County Fire and emergency services and PTC Fire and emergency services need to combine. It sure would save PTC a lot of money and maybe get them out of the RED.

Save Fayette’s quote: “I also think that Fayette County Fire and emergency services and PTC Fire and emergency services need to combine. It sure would save PTC a lot of money and maybe get them out of the RED.”

Some “expert” brings this up at least a few times a year on these blogs, and as pointed out in these blogs many times as well as in past council meetings, your statement isn’t true. Your scenario would cost PTC residents substantially more in operating taxes, increased insurance costs and ultimately result in an overall reduction in the quality/level of services.

Locally one would only have to contact people in the cities of Sandy Springs, Milton, Chattahoochee Hills, Fairburn, Palmetto, Johns Creek and ask why they broke away from their “County Fire Department” and formed their own fire departments in the last few years.

“Save Fayette”, you must be drinking from the same bottle as a few of the other “experts” whom keep posting erroneous and non-factual statements on these blogs.

A new bill passed today in congress to supply states with over 26 billion dollars cash to help pay for teachers, cops, Medicaid, etc.
Do you suppose Georgia and Sarah Palin's Alaska will actually accept their share to save their jobs?
Of course they will, they have several times already. TEAS say nothing about it. The states do not want to tax their own people directly for what they need...but it is OK to get it from Washington.
They claim they sent it there in the first place----THEY DID NOT, THIS IS BORROWED MONEY FROM FOREIGNERS AND DEBT CERTIFICATES!

This is the kind of thinking people like Mrs. Palin does,
Examples of Palin---
She once said the first job of the VP, when she was running, was to be in charge of the Senate and to guide them to vote right.
She once said that North Carolina was a Pro-American state unlike others.
She said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack were just another "too big" department of government---They are private companies with stockholders.
She also said the Alaska supplies 20% of the fuel the USA has, they supply about 3.5%
She has been a hockey mom, a pit bull, (with lipstick), and a Pink elephant. Not to mention a Mama Grizzly!
She yesterday "rolled her eyes" at a school teacher who asked her why she quit her sworn duty as Governor. She said to protect the USA from bad politicians. After she was beat for VP it seemed time to get rich with her fame.

She will never have a responsible job and is being used to thwart votes from democrats.

Cyclist's picture

I wonder if you got a "pin-up" photo of her hanging on a wall.

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

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