Following his annual “State of the City” address to the Peachtree City Rotary Club Thursday, Peachtree City Mayor Don Haddix announced that he indeed will seek a second term in the November election.
Haddix specifically cited tax increases, added debt and the dissolution of the city’s development authority as matters that “need to be corrected to move the city forward.”
“They know I keep my word and work to accomplish my agenda,” Haddix said.
Haddix has had a heated relationship with his fellow council members, and his campaign website is already up and running with material that is highly critical of councilwoman Vanessa Fleisch, his only announced opponent so far.
Haddix and his fellow council members have failed to see eye to eye on a number of issues but perhaps most critically on the budget. Haddix has advocated for staving off property tax increases, but was unable to recommend specific cuts to the budget to accomplish that goal. Instead, Haddix has appointed a committee of volunteers who are studying city spending and seeking citizen input on what should be prioritized along with a millage rate.
Haddix and the rest of council have also clashed continually over the city having to pay more than $10,000 to defend and settle a libel lawsuit filed by former Mayor Harold Logsdon stemming from an email Haddix sent to a city employee in which Haddix claimed Logsdon was “part drunk” at council meetings.
Council in May voted to dock Haddix’s pay to help reimburse the city for the expenses, but they restored his salary, including back pay, in December after Haddix threatened to file a lawsuit challenging their action, which he argued was not authorized by the city charter.
Despite the clashes with his fellow council members, Haddix told Rotary members that he has been able to score some victories including changes at the city amphitheater and tennis center that saved about $500,000 a year. Haddix also noted that the former development authority, before it was disbanded, helped redevelop the Kedron and Braelinn shopping centers, the Fresh Market grocery store “and enabled the desires of Kroger to expand their Braelinn store.”
Haddix also cited victory on making changes to “city staff and structures” that he sought in 2011, though he noted those changes involved a struggle with some on city staff and some council members.
“It has been a great honor to serve Peachtree City, first as a councilman and now as mayor,” Haddix said. “Having taken everything into consideration and in respect to all those who asked me to run again, I am announcing my candidacy for re-election as mayor.”
In his state of the city address, Haddix noted the accolades the city received the past year including the designation from Bloomberg Businessweek as “Best place to raise kids in Georgia” and from Reader’s Digest as having the “Most Interesting Parade.”
Haddix also noted that more than four miles of cart paths were improved, the city also repaved north Peachtree Parkway, much of Dividend Drive in the industrial park and several other city streets, though the city is now out of sales tax money used to fund the projects, an issue that will be “of great and costly concern for the future.”
Another financial issue gripping the city is the identification of $62 million in stormwater repairs with no money leftover to fund them. City officials have previously said they are studying an increase in the annual stormwater fee assessed on all parcels in the city.
Haddix said the reorganization of the police department by the elimination of three captain positions “has saved over $300,000 while improving efficiency and operations.” and that the city saw a 40 percent reduction in DUI-related crashes according to police data while serious crimes increased by 2.58 percent.
Haddix also cited the fire department’s work to keep and improve a volunteer force to supplement career members along with the department’s successful public education efforts.
In the area of recreation, Haddix noted improvements in turf management at the city’s baseball, soccer and lacrosse fields along with the resurfacing of various city public tennis courts and the replacement of the Kedron pool bubble enclosure. The tennis courts and bubble replacement were funded by the city’s $3 million facilities authority bond, Haddix noted.
The mayor also said he is looking forward to the results of the work of a citizen “needs assessment committee” that is preparing an unbiased survey to help with strategic planning on taxes and spending. Haddix noted that he appointed all of the citizens who applied for the position in an attempt to prevent bias.