Nobody Cares (Part 6 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.

Ed. Note: This is the continuing series of articles about Peachtree City issues. Earlier parts can be found online at www.fayette-news.net.

 

How many thousands (tens of thousands?) of dollars did it really cost us to have the urgent question about liquor sales being made an extra hour and a half earlier on Sundays? Really? This should have been done in next year’s election when city council members are up for election so as to save the cost to the tax payer. Just another example of wasteful decision making, but it seems nobody cares.

Why do we not vote for council members on even number years? The story behind this is a fascinating one involving a forward-looking politician who wanted low voter turnout in order to be reelected.

About five years ago we were one vote away on our city council to moving our elections to line up with federal elections. The rationale was so obvious. In odd years, the way it remains at this time, we get about 25 percent turnout, if we’re lucky. In even years, when federal and state elections are held, we easily get 75 percent or more turnout.

Why wouldn’t we want to move our elections? The answer involves knowing the dynamics of voters. Low voter turnout favors incumbents with name recognition and their ability to marshal their supporters to overwhelm any opposition. That’s why you see incumbents constantly (not always) getting reelected.

We were one vote away from moving to even years. We needed a unanimous 5-0 vote on council to move the election. This proposal would then be taken to the Georgia state legislature, where it would be a consent agenda item, passed, and then signed by the Governor.

The vote five years ago to 4-1 thereby killing the move. The rationale given by that one negative vote was it would be too complicated having all those choices on the ballot and then asking voters to also choose city council members. Oh the confusion!

As you can see by this last election, we paid for a single city vote choice regarding liquor sales. But if city council choices were added it would have been way too confusing, right? The one negative vote was provided by none other than our current incumbent Mayor. Now go reread this paragraph and think about why the initiative to move to even years failed.

The final issue in this series deals with Peachtree City being turned into a bedroom community. This is related to the fact that nearly all remaining industrial zoned land is being rezoned residential. The only businesses that benefit from this are realtors.

Being a bedroom community means ever higher future property taxes on home owners. The industrial base has shrunk in proportion to our residential mix and can no longer support its share of maintaining city services without higher home owner property taxes. Our property tax increase this year is just the first symptom. Again, it was small but who’s going to want to bring their business to a city where taxes are continually going up on the whim of three council members saying so?

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