Nobody Cares (Part 4 of 6)

Eric Imker is a retired Air Force officer (1994) and former Peachtree City Council Member (2009-2015) who has advance degrees in Program Management and Computer Systems with professional expertise in Systems Engineering, Government and Business Contracting, and Budgeting and Personnel Management.

Did you know the 1 cent SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) that was overwhelmingly passed last year is now estimated to bring in nearly $1,000,000 more per year than anticipated? This additional money must be used for things like road and cart path maintenance which properly makes up the vast majority of the original intended use of the budgeted SPLOST money.

The original estimated revenue for the SPLOST was $45,472,835 (just for Peachtree City). We are now looking at revenue well exceeding $50,000,000! It will be interesting to see how our city council decides to spend that money. I hope we care.

Knowing all this, our council deemed it necessary to raise (!) our taxes once again when developing the property tax millage rate for FY2019. I know they know because I told them so at the tax rate increase public hearings – twice!

Apparently our city council needed about $100,000 to finish funding the FY2019 budget. The only solution in their mind – raise taxes. Remember, the budget is around $35,000,000, yet our council was unable to find $100,000. Various department cash reserves add up to well more than the needed $100,000. However, it seems that a $234,000 pavilion at Drake Field that should have cost $50,000 is okay.

On December 6, city council discovered they had enough extra cash lying around to add $111,000 to FY2019 (and all future budgets) for an additional pay raise that wasn’t included in the original budget passed last summer. The raise is fine, but it should go mostly to the lower and entry levels where we need to recruit and retain police and fire department personnel. I don’t like the fact that those making near or over six figures are getting huge raises compared to more than half the city employees making less than about $50,000 per year.

The Drake Field pavilion is just one example of numerous reckless spending projects by the Peachtree City Council. Even when knowing we’d be getting nearly $1 million per year more from the SPLOST, they raised taxes. This is total irresponsibility to the extreme. but the scary thing is, our elected officials don’t see it…and nobody seems to care. Fortunately for our city council members, it was a non-election year. Do you think they would have raised taxes if they were up for election a few months later?

Want to know who cares if taxes are raised? Businesses!!! If I were a business person looking for a new location, am I going to locate where the city keeps raising taxes? Albeit a small tax increase this year, but the concept that a city council that seems willing to continuously raise taxes is enough for me to look elsewhere. It shows.

Our stormwater bills have remained infuriatingly high. Seven years ago the city paid storm water bills for the property it owned. This was about half a million dollars a year. As a tax-saving (!) move, council moved that tax to the homeowners’ stormwater bill (it being a fee, not a tax, and no longer deductible). This in essence doubled the stormwater fee for everyone. It’s time the city goes back to the way it was before, cut our stormwater bill in half, and pay its own way thereby forcing city council to be more fiscally responsible with our tax dollars. I think you care about this one, but what are you going to do about it?

Why do I keep saying, “It seems nobody cares”?  Because it was clear in the last election when nearly 20,000 voters didn’t bother to vote. You get what the extremely small percent of those eligible to vote want.

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