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Millage hike looms

If you want a chance to be heard about Peachtree City’s tax hike, Thursday night is your first chance to address the City Council.

The council is staging a public hearing at 6 p.m. at City Hall for the public to speak out on the proposed one-mill hike in taxes. City staff said the tax hike represents about a $100 jump for a house valued at $277,000.

Earlier this summer, City Manager Jim Pennington said the hike is necessary in large part to make up for a lack of funding in road and cart path maintenance.

“I don’t know that anybody is pleased when you have a tax increase,” Pennington said. “However, there is a realization early on that when you lost all your SPLOST (sales tax) money, something’s got to take the place of it.”

The other option is to look at further cuts to city services such as police, fire, streets and recreation which might put the city “back into a zone you don’t want to be in,” Pennington added.

“That’s what makes a community vibrant,” Pennington said. “If you don’t have the good roads, the quality sidewalks and quality parks, people leave. Particularly when there is competition and alternate places for people to live. Like it or not, that’s a reality, just a fact of life.”

The tax increase, if approved, would raise an additional $1.7 million in revenue for the city, with $405,000 set aside for an expected salary increase for city employees as determined by a pay study authorized earlier this year by council.

“Right now the indications are that we’re OK in some places but we are not OK in some others,” Pennington said.

The city is also looking to hire 16 full-time landscaping employees to move all landscaping services back in house, as a number of residents have been displeased with the lack of quality from the city’s landscaping contractors.

That comes with an extra cost of $382,000 (compared to what the city set aside for contracted services this budget year) and accounts for about 22 percent of the projected tax increase.

There was also a significant sentiment on council to work harder on cart path resurfacing, but in reality that is limited by the paving season, equipment and manpower, Pennington confirmed.

Some residents have complained of bumps in the cart path system, but part of that is to be expected, Pennington said. The city makes efforts to cut out trees and roots that cause problems, he added.

“Those cart paths are laid out in the middle of the woods; that’s what they were intended for,” Pennington said. “You might get a little bump, which is what happens in nature, but we try to keep it as smooth as we can.”

Again speaking about the tax increase as necessary to handle road resurfacing, Pennington recalled previously working for a city in Florida that prided itself on low taxes, and while all the cities surrounding them kept their road standards high, his city suffered from significant road problems that took five years to get back to a reasonable level.

“I don’t like raising taxes and I don’t like recommending them, but my gosh, you don’t want to see your city collapse either,” Pennington said. “I am a taxpayer and I don’t like it, but I am willing to maintain the value of my property and they go hand-in-glove with each other.”

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Comments

Robert W. Morgan's picture

It is absolutely OK to have a tax increase to pay for what we have and what we use. If somebody doesn't do that, the headline will be "Seniors on fixed income being forced out of PTC" or some such nonsense. It is $100 a year, people. Contrary to what passes for reality in Obamaland, you really do have to pay for things you use like roads and cart paths. Even though 1/4 of the total goes to salary increases, I'm ok with that.

So maybe someone at the meeting tonight could just say OK - $100 is fair. We need to maintain what we have. Maybe then city council will not be so frightened of tax increases - assuming they are used for serious things. No more covered pools and stuff like that.

Live free or die!

I'm ok with this tax increase, but I'm not going to make time to sit and listen to people say the same thing over and over.

If I were the mayor, I would place the seating into 3 pods. For/Against/Neutral.

Let 3 people talk for each group. After listening tell everyone if they want to add something new step up, but not to repeat what has already been said.

Then let the people switch seats if what was said changed their minds. Count heads in each pod and end the meeting.

Should take 40 minutes.

I don't mind paying for what I receive. The problem is when I'm not confident in the people, that want to take my money by force, to use it correctly.

mudcat's picture

If you can figure out how to stop people (usually opponents of something) from repeating the same old stuff over and over again at public meetings, then you deserve a big prize. I think what happens is some people when planning to go to the meeting write their thoughts down and/or memorize them and regardless of what happens before their moment at the mic - they spew those prepared words.

I too am sick of the same old complainers and never once does anyone offer a serious solution to any problem. The closest anyone comes is threatening to vote someone out of office and that's just a temporary feel-good moment. I no longer go to any of those meetings even though I know I should, but it depresses me.

PTC Observer's picture

Require serious thinking. The question as always is, do elected "representatives" care to hear them and debate whether they have merit? Or do they merely want to dismiss them out of hand?

I have attended these meetings as well and it seems to me that the public comment section of the agenda is just something to tick off as "done". Given the quality of comments (complaints), I can understand why.

You should be depressed.

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