Working for Peachtree City
For years, leadership in Peachtree City strayed away from what I believe to be the most important value for leaders at the local level to remember. First and foremost we are public servants, not politicians. Four years ago I was elected by the people of Peachtree City to bring about a return to the values and principles of public service and leave politics behind.
Previous rancor and dysfunction at council meetings demoralized the employees who work to serve you. Here in Peachtree City we had that type of non-leadership for many years. As a consequence, we had not completed public works projects that had been identified for years. So the deterioration of our roads, cart paths, dams, bridges, tunnels, and stormwater pipes had been underway for nearly a decade while politicians were distracted by frivolous disputes that dominated council meetings.
It is difficult to provide a “vision” when each day there is a new crisis added to the political maelstrom. Over the past four years we have shed much of the melodrama that had plagued PTC politics for many years.
Today you can see positive changes everywhere across the city. Thanks to public works and buildings and grounds, the city looks better than it has in years. There is a correlation between how a city looks and property values and we are now seeing the returns. Property values in Peachtree City have gone up by 12 this past year alone! That is huge compared to where we were just four years ago. The two topics go hand in hand; home values are dependent, in large part, upon the value a community places on keeping up its surroundings.
Our city and our community have survived the economic downturn better than most. However, as we look to the future job market we need to be the place where people want to work and we will need to pay accordingly. To quote a former city manager, a city our size usually has 400-500 employees, we have 232 full-time employees.
Those same employees have received an average pay raise of 4 percent over the last 6 years, or .67 percent a year. Prior to a pay study in 2014 our starting salary for a policeman and a firefighter/EMT was $36,000 after the pay adjustment it is now $38,300 or a 5.5 percent increase. Given today’s climate, that starting salary will need to go up so that we can continue to recruit quality public service personnel to serve you.
The cost estimates for the projects on our SPLOST list were done about three years ago when the economic conditions were not as good as they are today. In the three years since the SPLOST cost estimate list was compiled the cost of materials and labor has gone up considerably. The duration of the SPLOST is six years; the cost estimates done three years ago are the same estimates that will be used in 2023 when the final SPLOST projects are scheduled for completion. To think that an estimate done in 2014 will be valid and accurate in 2023 is not realistic that is why there was some contingency funding built into the projects.
Even GDOT is having an issue with a shortage of contractors available to do work on their projects. The market demand for materials and labor has gone up and inevitably so will the cost of each of the projects.
I have worked closely with representatives from GDOT who have helped Peachtree City to receive $10 million towards improving 54 and 74. We have come a long way since the days when Peachtree City ostracized itself from state agencies. The median work currently underway on 54 by Planterra is partially funded by a $150,000 grant from GDOT.
The Atlanta Regional Commission, a state resource for transportation planning and data resource entity, has also funded the signal “loop system” through a grant to help update the signals along 54 from Willowbend to MacDuff. For the first time in many years we are getting positive attention from many agencies.
However, we still have many challenges ahead:
· The growth of Senoia and other areas and the pressure it will continue to place on 54/74
· Aging home market competing against newer homes in surrounding areas
· Encouraging redevelopment and adding land for business and industry to help balance out our tax base
· Keeping up with infrastructure repairs and maintenance
· Our aging population
We have made so much progress over the past four years. If elected for a second term I will continue to foster the tenets of public service, and continue to work to make Peachtree City a beautiful place to call home.
Peachtree City, Ga