PTC budget and personal agendas
What is going on with the [Peachtree City] budget process requires some comments. There needs to be a review of what has happened to put us in the position we are in now.
It is essential everyone recognizes what the City Council has been doing, this year, is not only a continuation, but making it worse. And finally, taking a serious look at where we are heading under their thinking.
City Manager — I am extremely disappointed with Jim Pennington and Public Works Director Jon Rorie. While I understand they say their job is to make the council look good, there are limits. Above all else, they are supposed to give solid recommendations and accurate facts.
An example of failure to do so is landscaping. Both have stated there has been a significant decline from the pre-2010 condition and functionality. Also, that most complaints have been about landscaping.
Folks, Jim Pennington didn’t even come here to interview for the job until a few months into 2011. Jon Rorie was hired several months later. Neither of them has any first-hand knowledge of what the weather was like, what the situation was with the in-house staff or the nature and level of complaints in 2008 and 2009.
Not knowing the problems and how many complaints also applies to Mayor Vanessa Fleisch and Council member Kim Learnard.
But I do, as I was on council from 2008 through 2013. There were a lot of problems in-house and a ton of complaints. After the outsourcing, the landscaping complaints declined and the cart path complaints increased.
Path and street complaints have been the most significant for years now.
So why did the push and claims about landscaping by Fleisch begin in early 2010? After all, we had just switched to outsourcing, so any negative impact was yet to be seen.
The reason is Fleisch is a real estate agent. She sees all issues through the lens of selling homes. It is as simple as that.
How do real estate agents sell homes? Staging. So she wants to stage Peachtree City. That includes flowers, which are very costly, but Fleisch wanted them.
The problem is that just as you cannot live in a staged home and keep it staged, neither can you create and maintain high end curb appeal for Peachtree City. People live in and use both.
The cost of excessive landscaping, especially during drought and very wet years, is daunting.
For those of you who remember the trucks on Ga. highways 54 and 74 watering the medians, it didn’t work. The flowers and other plants still wilted, struggled and died.
There are more details on landscaping, along with many other issues, on my website. Please take a look.
Having brought up paths and streets, per a 2012 evaluation, over a five-year period there is $20 million of maintenance needing done. The longer it is delayed, the more costly it becomes by requiring more full depth reclamation instead of resurfacing.
All the data are attached as spreadsheets on my website.
Why has the cost piled up so much? Because of intentionally being delayed, with Councilman Eric Imker leading the charge.
Imker and some others want to delay purchasing police vehicles. That is not a smart move as many cities have found out. The increased maintenance cost plus loss of dependability makes it more expensive.
Remember, when a police car is replaced, they are not surplus, they replace old police cars being used for other purposes. In turn, those vehicles are sold as surplus.
This is no different than using hand-me-downs when raising a family. A smart use of assets.
In fairness, I agree with Imker it is time to live within our means. But I disagree with him you do that using just numbers on a spreadsheet. You do it by evaluating cost versus benefit.
Imker also talked about his five-year budget proposal in 2010, again claiming it has worked. But it has not and I stress again the budget will never be brought under control without a comprehensive strategic plan.
None on council wants a plan. All have their personal agendas. It does not matter that in the One Peachtree City and Needs Assessment Survey it was made clear safety was job one and more police are needed on the paths. It was made clear the recreation that dominates the city is not what is wanted. Paths, parks and community activities are the priority. The majority said landscaping was fine “as is.”
Delaying spending to make a budget look better means you spend more later. Having no plan means you waste money in unneeded or unwanted areas.
There are areas where spending can be reduced. There are areas that can be repurposed, as Shayne Robinson pointed out in the recreation workshop (covered on website).
Reducing spending, not postponing, is key.
Relying on debt is a huge mistake. Per the 2014 budget 10 percent of city funds are spent on debt maintenance. It states the 2014 expenditure for debt is $2,860,826, which is enough to annually fund all known and unknown immediate path and street repairs, for example.
When I hear staff or council say using debt and interest payments are good things, I cringe. Debt binds the city many years, as the 2014 debt shows.
There is a lot more that could be said, but for now, I will simply remind all that last year, for the election, Fleisch and Learnard said our debt was prudent and our budget was under control and good. Learnard also said she had “nailed the budget. There would be no more tax increases.”
Regardless of what council does, we are all still going to have increased bills from the county, board of education and Peachtree City. The 1 percent increase in home values equals about .219 mills from each government.
Please visit donhaddix.com for additional information not covered here. Remember many points now coming out are ones I made the last four years. Points that Fleisch, Learnard and Imker had rejected.
Peachtree City, Ga.