PTC budget talks: Likely 1 mill tax hike

Council concerned about path upkeep

Look for property taxes to increase this year in Peachtree City.

After two earlier meetings, city staff came back to the Peachtree City Council June 19 with a modified proposal for a 1 mill tax hike to pay for a 3 percent pay raise for city workers and a reduced list of cart path and street repavings. An earlier proposal recommended a nearly 2 mill increase.

Final budget figures are uncertain at this point. The process amounts to a negotiation among the five council members, City Manager James Pennington and Financial Services Director Paul Salvatore.

One thing is certain: The current budget of $29.58 million will increase from between 6 percent to 15 percent, based on discussions through June 19. In addition, a one mill increase in the city tax rate is almost a foregone conclusion.

One mill brings in about $1.725 million to city coffers.

The council will hold public hearings next month to finalize the budget millage rate.

While council members have focused on the need to repave more than six miles of the 90-plus-mile cart path system in the next fiscal year, Pennington’s revised budget cut the amount the council wanted for maintaining the paths.

The council’s direction to staff Tuesday was to increase path repaving funding by $635,000 a year. Pennington came back two days later with a $75,000 proposed increase.

What didn’t change from Pennington’s first proposed budget June 16 through adjournment Thursday night was a minimum raise of 3 percent for city employees.

Council’s direction to staff Tuesday was for a 2 percent pay hike, a figure that Councilman Terry Ernst called a “slap in the face” to city employees who deserved “some thanks” for the jobs they are doing. Ernst is a former captain in the Peachtree City Police Department.

“The reason we kept that [3 percent] was because we had no idea what that figure [from a pending salary study] will be,” Pennington said after the meeting. “We don’t have a clue. It could be 5 [percent], it could be less.

“Right now, we know that pay plans are coming in from studies that are going on around our region … at a much higher rate than we ever anticipated,” Pennington said.
Revised city staff recommendations are as follows:

• Increase the city tax rate by 1 mill.

• Include 3 percent or about $405,000 “towards funding pay study.”

• Add $382,000 and bring all city landscaping back in-house, with added city workers.

• Spend $440,000 on cart path resurfacing.

• Spend $200,000 on bridge maintenance.

• Approve a $3 million facilities bond (which the council did Thursday night).

• Leave vacant the public works director position and delete funding from the budget.

The council Thursday night approved $495,000 in new software to manage the city’s business. The enterprise resource planning (ERP) software will be paid for over a seven-year lease period.