Tax hike vote is Thurs.

Peachtree City residents get two more chances to have their say before a proposed millage rate increase is voted on by the City Council tomorrow night.

The second public hearing is set for 7:30 a.m. tomorrow at City Hall, while the third and final public hearing is during tomorrow night’s 7 p.m. City Council meeting. Three public hearings are required by law when a tax hike is anticipated. Last week’s first public hearing during the Thursday City Council meeting drew a meager crowd of fewer than 10 residents to hear a brief presentation of what the city plans to do with the anticipated $1.7 million in new revenues for the new budget year.

Finance director Paul Salvatore and city manager Jim Pennington explained the funds would be used for items residents have said needed fixing. More than $600,000 is budgeted for bringing the landscaping back in house after running into problems with private companies that were contracted to do the job. An additional $717,000 is allocated for additional street paving, while $75,000 will be added to the cart path maintenance budget.

Bridge improvements total $200,00, while litter removal accounts for $45,000 and nearly $71,000 goes for technology improvements. If approved by the City Council, the city’s millage rate would increase to 7.756, while the bond millage would remain unchanged at .0332 mills. Pennington explained that the increase was not just something thrown together. Countless workshops and discussions since January have led to the city’s decision to increase the tax rate. Mayor Vanessa Fleisch said one of the biggest complaints she hears is about the poorly maintained landscaping, and the millage hike should help solve the problem.

As for the future, the millage rate would result in the city using about $350,000 in cash reserves over each of the next four years, which would leave the reserves still in a healthy position during the fifth year at 26 percent of the city’s overall annual budget. City policy requires those cash reserves to be kept at a minimum of 20 percent of the city’s annual budget. The city is projecting to end this fiscal year with a fund balance of 33 percent, equal to about $10.26 million. The council will also consider the budget resolution for fiscal year 2015. The staff is recommending a budget of $32. 2 million for the next year, including the funds from the millage rate hike.