Peachtree City votes 3-to-2 to raise tax rate with no cuts in staff

The Peachtree City Council approved a city property tax rate increase Monday morning to stave off the loss of more than $600,000 in revenue that would have been lost due to shrinking property reassessments.

The increase will have differing effects on individuals’ tax bills, all depending on whether one’s property value dropped by the city average of 5.2 percent or not.

If the parcel’s value dropped below that mark, they will not see an increase in their city tax rates. Properties whose value did not drop, or did not drop as much as 5.2 percent, will see some form of a tax increase.

Council voted 3-2 to approve the “roll up” millage rate, which features a higher rate designed only to account for the shortfall that would have occurred had the millage rate remained the same following the reduced property assessments.

Voting against the millage rate were Mayor Don Haddix and Councilman George Dienhart. Voting in favor of the rate were Council members Eric Imker, Vanessa Fleisch and Kim Learnard.

The action raised the millage rate by .372 to the 6.756 mill level. Adding on the 0.422 mills for the bond millage rage, city property owners will be subject to a total rate of 7.178.

Imker said Monday that he voted in favor of the increase because no one else could suggest any further specific budget cuts.

Imker said he asked if anyone on council would recommend cutting eight staffers from the police department, the fire department or the library.

“Nobody offered up any ideas so I said hey if we aren’t able to do that, and we’re going to keep the services we have, we need the same revenue we had last year, hence the rollup,” Imker said.

Haddix after the meeting said he objected to the increase because he feels the budget cuts enacted by city staff are piecemeal cuts.

“Band-Aids aren’t going to work,” Haddix said. “… Service cuts is the only way this is going to work.”

Haddix said he specifically does not want to cut public safety.

Last week, city officials unveiled $339,000 in additional budget cuts that will will reduce the use of cash reserves this year from $843,000 to $503,000.

At a previous meeting, Imker pointed out that the $600,000 hit due to property assessments would translate to a $3 million loss over five years and get the city’s budget significantly off track.

Haddix in the meantime is preparing to get to work with a citizen’s committee looking at how much citizens are willing to pay in city taxes, subsequently addressing which services they want to prioritize.

“It’s a blended question,” Haddix said. “How much are you willing to pay, and what do you want to fund for that amount?”