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Councilwoman Learnard: The rest of the story about Low Temp

Months after Low Temp decided not to pursue a move to Peachtree City, misunderstandings still abound. This is to highlight the process that takes place when an industry such as Low Temp considers relocating to a community.

Low Temp Industries is a privately held, third generation manufacturing company currently located in Clayton County. Because they are interested in possibly expanding and relocating, company officials have been looking at several communities in multiple counties over a period of years.

Over two years ago, Low Temp contacted the Fayette County Development Authority, and together, Low Temp and FCDA toured possible relocation sites in the Peachtree City industrial park and throughout the county.

It is customary for a company to have a list of requirements, concessions that would make their move financially worthwhile. Concessions typically involve road improvements; reduced utility rates; sewer tap fee reductions; and tax breaks.

(Tax breaks are sometimes based on the number of anticipated new hires and their salaries. For example, 100 new management employees making $100,000 per year can infuse a lot of dollars into a community. This helps a community cost-justify tax breaks.)

These concessions must be paid for by either the county or the municipality – in other words, taxpayers.

Low Temp’s concessions list included construction of a $550,000 sewer system at no charge to the company, a waiver of the $51,000 sewer tap fee, a 10-year graduated tax abatement, and a 75 percent reduction of all fees. This list was, in the company’s own words, “substantial” but “needed for the project feasibility.”

County officials had to determine whether or how the Low Temp project would benefit Fayette County taxpayers. It’s terrific to imagine bringing a thriving manufacturing business to our community, but not if taxpayers must pay more to get the business here than they will realize in a return on their investment over time.

And while many of the concessions would have been absorbed by Fayette county taxpayers as a whole, the Peachtree City annexed location meant Peachtree City sewer customers would have had to shoulder the costs of the sewer concessions, which would have necessitated a rate increase.

The fact that the 165 Low Temp employees already live in Clayton County pointed to the strong possibility that we were not talking about new jobs or new home buyers, but new commuters, to the tune of 165 cars on our roads twice a day.

The cost benefit model presented an 80-year payback – much too long to make financial sense. (In prosperous times, a 7-year payback was considered excellent.) County officials ultimately declined the project.

Now fast forward to early 2010 and a new mayor in Peachtree City. Mayor Haddix has a strong business background and good relationships with Low Temp CEOs. Not surprisingly, Low Temp tried again. Also not surprisingly, the project made no more sense for taxpayers the second time around than it did the first time.

Although Mayor Haddix, DAPC Director Mark Hollums, and Low Temp CEO Ben Casey were diligent, persistent and professional, it was with a measure of mutual regret that the project did not come to fruition.

The fact that this particular project did not work out does not in any way suggest that Peachtree City officials have reduced our emphasis on economic development strategies that make sense for our community. Mr. Casey’s public comments point to the need for a central point of contact, and Council has taken those comments to heart.

In 2010, a new president of FCDA has emerged as experienced, capable, and excited about working together with Peachtree City to recruit and promote industry in our industrial park.

In August, City Council created and approved a new, full-time staff position of Economic Development Coordinator. The job description for this position includes working with both the FCDA and DAPC, aggressively recruiting new businesses, recognizing and supporting existing businesses, coordinating support for retailers and the Village Centers, and creating and implementing a comprehensive economic development strategic plan to meet the specific needs of our community.

In September, a special called meeting between DAPC and City Council jump-started what I expect to be a strong, positive relationship among the many individuals who intend to make economic development a continued priority in PTC.

We followed up with both the regular DAPC meeting, and a marketing strategy session focused on “Find it in Fayette” and “Shop in Peachtree City” promotions in time for the holidays.

The challenges are real – but the talents and resources are many. The next DAPC meeting is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 4 starting at 6 p.m. in the Floy Farr Room at City Hall. It is open to the public.

Kim Learnard

City Council Post 3

Peachtree City, Ga.



If Council member Learnard had any bit of class left to represent this city council, she lost it with this letter. They have left Kim, why kick them when they are down? I am sure local restaurant owners, gas stations, hair salons, drycleaners, etc were thrilled with your comments of why have more people in the area to be patrons during our floundering economy. Your math of an 80 year payback makes you look more like an idiot than you actually are. This letter represents all that is wrong with Peachtree City and their elected officials. I certainly don't blame Low Temp or any other company for sprinting for the county line! When is election time again?

MajorMike's picture

You have enough high school level insults there but do you have ANY facts or figures to refute even a portion of what Council member Learnard stated?

I'm sure they're just another know-it-all who thinks they could do so much better than anyone else. Ill also be willing to bet that he or she is the type of person who would argue that the sky is falling until your so sick of hearing it that you give up and believe them.

Dawg: Don't believe anything anyone tells you. Ever. Your right, their wrong. You know the truth even though you weren't involved. Its the Government lying to us. its a conspiracy! REVOLT REVOLT!!

Don Haddix's picture

I actually have problems not with the numbers but when claimed.

In 2008 I was on Council, Liaison to DAPC and negotiating with a Realtor who was associated with that parcel and other parcels in the area for how they could be developed. The only activity on that parcel was seeking retail development, which I was working to change.

On the other acreage we even reached a formal Master Plan that looked great on paper. But one owner decided retail made more money so that ended that.

There was no mention or talk of anything on that parcel other than retail.

When WASA entered the discussion with Low Temp this year the connection and other numbers were given in reference to talking to Southern Pines, not Low Temp. Again no mention of prior discussions with Low Temp.

When Low Temp approached me I was indeed told they had talked to the County, but to the Chairman, not FCDA. And he told them he wanted the site retail, not Industrial.

I am not accusing anyone of falsifying anything, but I was here and dealing with the property directly. Low Temp was not there in any discussions ever. In 2008 and 2009 there was discussion about that property as a retail site. There was even some concessions attempted by adding some college building into the mix. But they could not get a majority of Council on board either year. In 2008 it was annex all the property and in 2009 only some of the property.

Somewhere along the line either dates and times or the names of who was making what proposals were confused. Southern Pines had indeed been working with the County to develop that site before they approached us to try to get sewer and eliminate the septic field.

Again, I am not accusing anyone of lying and that is all I have to say. But something just does not add up here. Come to your own conclusions, I am making no judgment call here.

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

concerning this property are basically the same as yours.

I would add only that Councilwoman Learnard stated that the Low Temp folks looked at several properties with the assistance of the FCDA.

As far as the numbers are concerned, I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve had the chance to evaluate them myself.

Now my first question would be; wouldn’t the FCDA have not only coordinated with the DAPC but requested their assistance for properties located in PTC?

I would hope that S.O.P. would be to involve the local development authority when contemplating any PTC property.

Please tell me I’m not wrong.

Don Haddix's picture

Actually Councilman Sturbaum and I gave them a list of properties, this year, including the Pines site, that they spent several weeks inspecting.

So, the question must be asked, if already done two years ago why repeat it?

On the FCDA and DAPC question, not always. One of the reasons DAPC needed funded was because FCDA has been known to try to steer what wants to come into PTC to elsewhere.

That is why a couple of projects that want to come here came to me to work through DAPC under the promise I would not get the FCDA involved. Forget them now.

Simple reality is there are politics involved. The amount varies according to who is on the Commission and who is on Council. That is one of the major reasons the State set authorities up as independent of elected government.

As with several other things the old way of doing government has to change. Too much control in the hands a few is rarely good.

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

As the French Officer in "Casablanca" said, "I am shocked, shocked," to discover that gambling is going on in Rick's Place!!!!

I can't imagine that either Fayette County or Peachtree City, would try to get industry away from the other one---"shocked, shocked!"

Why it is enough to make the Mayor try to go around the Fayette County

I thought they worked even-handedly, both pushing each other!

Why it is as bad as the "Courthouse Crowd!" (Courthouserules, you know?)

Ok dawg, show us what you've got, other than a lot of hot air.

I’m confident that if I were to ask Councilwoman Learnard for the numbers she used in her analysis that she could and would provide them.

Now I'm asking you, put up or shut up.

mudcat's picture

I want an all female council - or at least I did. And now you are falling into a pattern. Meaning Mayors with detractors.
Morgan had Frady.
Frady had Brown.
Fred Brown didn't have any - at the time - unless you count Stalder.
Lenox had the baby brown (and Cal).
Mayor Steve Brown had Annie and the sane people.
Logsdon had Haddix.
Now Haddix has both Imker and Leanard.

Get away from this doll. You too smart.

PTC Observer's picture

It's over folks, let's move on. There aren't any mistakes here that I can see and it's all about moving forward.

Let's get on with it. Provide leadership and a plan to attract businesses to our community.

Mrs Learnard is an embarrassment to the City. I can no longer remain silent after reading such garbage.

I had an opportunity to read Mr. Casey's Termination of Interest letter to the City and found it professional and telling. I can only hope our dear friends in government can actually learn from this complete debacle. We can't be jerking quality companies around in these challenging financial times. That is exactly what the above article does. I would be shocked if these folks every consider our community again, i couldn't blame them.

Seems a few facts were lost in the above article by Mrs. Learnard, like: 1. what the City actually did offer Low Temp (50% reduced fees and the tax abatement), 2. the fact Low Temp had no interest in any tax abatement associated with the school systems (I think must be 50% of the entire tax) and 3. that the sewer improvement would open up an additional 100 plus acres for other new businesses to build. Last time i checked, where the sewers go are where the jobs go.

Which growing companies have land under agreement in the city limits and are discussing locating in our community right now?

Which council members besides the Mayor attended a meeting with these people (besides the one public meeting that was a 5-0 vote) to help negotiate a fair solution?

80 year payback, that is the most ridiculous thing one could possible say, even if pigs fly and it is true. Every business prospect going forward will google our community and that article will pop up, doesn't sound too inviting to me and utopia is probably pretty expensive. Maybe the economy roared back overnight and I missed it.

Congrats to the Mayor, his account is 95 % right. No way are they looking still in Peachtree City, we had our chance.

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