Have a holly, jolly SPLOST

’Tis the season! The end of the year is a great time for Peachtree City to look back on the highlights of 2016, and take stock of where we are headed in 2017. I am proud of the tremendous work we did this year, and excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.

Lake Peachtree is now restored – and we are all rejoicing. Fayette County completed a temporary fix of the damaged spillway, and finished the dredging project, removing 64,000 cubic yards of silt from the lakebed.

Peachtree City and Fayette County then successfully negotiated a new water agreement that will put Peachtree City in the driver’s seat for a permanent fix of both the spillway and the dam, to be implemented in a well-planned, nine-month project starting in September of 2017. If the 2017 SPLOST passes, then the project will also include a two-way golf cart bridge over the spillway.

Hark! The Overlook development is complete, including a wetlands stormwater treatment installation that is one of the first of its kind in Georgia. We applaud the Southern Conservation Trust for their success in local land acquisition and management, and new programs not only in PTC but throughout Fayette County. If the 2017 SPLOST passes, we will construct restrooms at the Line Creek Nature Center to better serve the more than 25,000 nature lovers who visit this amenity each year.

We will soon be dashing through MacDuff Parkway, as it will be completed in 2017. This will provide both a vital thruway for the anticipated 1,100 new homes in Wilksmoor Village, and a measure of traffic relief at the intersection of Ga. highways 54 and 74. In addition, City Council included money for crucial intersection improvements for Hwy. 54 at MacDuff, and Hwy. 54 at Planterra Ridge, in the 2017 SPLOST list.

This year Peachtree City reached a new level of collaboration with the Fayette County Development Authority, with a partnership among the FCDA, Fayette County, and all five cities that will assure the funding needed for the FCDA to promote our community, attract new businesses to the county, and expand existing industries, all to make sure new jobs are comin’ to town.

In the PTC Budget Workshop held on Tuesday, Dec. 6, City Council reviewed our budget for the balance of this fiscal year, and an updated 5-year budget model. Due to a rebounding economy and an increase in the tax digest, we can now carefully consider exiting “survival mode” and turning new attention to the services and amenities that make Peachtree City great.

In our current budget we included $1.8 million for resurfacing roads. This allows us to repave 3 to 4 miles this year, which is sorely needed. However, completing 4 miles per year means that at the end of the next eight years, we will still be 40 miles behind in repaving, while at the same time roads currently rated as acceptable (higher than 80 on the PACERS scale) continue to degrade. This is moving us backwards. The 2017 SPLOST list includes funds to repave approximately 8 miles per year, which will catch us up.

Multi-use paths, our signature amenity, are also in need of improvements after years of austerity. $8.8 million of the 2017 SPLOST is designated for multi-use path maintenance, new paths (14), tunnel improvements (17), and bridge improvements (11).

Did I mention the 2017 SPLOST? Of the $45 million Peachtree City stands to gain over the course of a six-year one-penny sales tax, 86 percent of the funds are designated for road and multi-use path improvements. If voters do not pass the 2017 SPLOST, then the majority of these projects will be either delayed or eliminated.

Mark your calendars for Tuesday, March 21, 2017, and plan to go to the polls. The list of Peachtree City SPLOST projects is on our website, at www.peachtree-city.org/SPLOST. Oh come, o come to the town hall style informational meetings planned for early 2017. (And I want to say “thank you” in advance to the citizens from outside our county who will be contributing when they shop and dine in Fayette.)

Council continues to pay down debt. Our G.O. bond debt and its associated millage rate of 0.309 mills will disappear in FY2019. Our General Fund debt is currently 1.349 mills (out of 6.756 total mills) and is being reduced every year. In this fiscal year we will retire more than half a million dollars of debt service from three debt instruments we will finish paying off.

Overall, budget-wise, PTC dealt with unanticipated expenses related to the Lake Peachtree spillway and more, totaling about $1 million. We also “managed out” other costs through implementing an increase in employee contributions to the defined benefit program and reducing healthcare costs. As presented on Tuesday, our projected use of cash reserves for FY17 is a negative number – we project adding a holly jolly $43,543 to reserves.

All this while we maintain cash reserves of 33 percent of total budget this year and every year of the 5-year model. Thank you, Santa, and thank you, Jon Rorie, Paul Salvatore, and our entire Peachtree City staff – hardworking professionals who love this city as much as I do.

We capped 2016 with a joyful and triumphant Hometown Holiday. Even though the weather outside was frightful, thousands of PTC neighbors gathered to enjoy a concert, a golf cart parade, and the lighting of the tree in City Hall Plaza. I was deeply touched to see this event bring together families, youngsters, teens, and senior citizens alike. Thank you for another great year in our hometown. There is truly no place like home for the holidays.

Kim Learnard
City Council Post 3
Peachtree City, Ga.