PTC manager: tax hike ‘important for future’

City Manager Jim Pennington makes a point in a file photo from January 2014. City Clerk Betsy Tyler is at right in background.

City manager says if quality declines, residents will leave

While the average Peachtree City homeowner may soon face a $100 increase in city property taxes, the hike is necessary in large part to make up for a lack of funding in road and cart path maintenance, according to City Manager Jim Pennington.

Pennington was referring to the city exhausting its funds from the 2004 countywide transportation sales tax, which paid for road and cart path resurfacing. With those funds gone, the city plans to increase the amount of spending on street resurfacing to $1.48 million and slightly increase cart path resurfacing to $440,000.

“I don’t know that anybody is pleased when you have a tax increase,” Pennington said. “However, there is a realization early on that when you lost all your SPLOST (sales tax) money, something’s got to take the place of it.”

The other option is to look at further cuts to city services such as police, fire, streets and recreation which might put the city “back into a zone you don’t want to be in,” Pennington added.

“That’s what makes a community vibrant,” Pennington said. “If you don’t have the good roads, the quality sidewalks and quality parks, people leave. Particularly when there is competition and alternate places for people to live. Like it or not, that’s a reality, just a fact of life.”

The tax increase, if approved by council later this year, would raise an additional $1.7 million in revenue for the city, with $405,000 set aside for an expected salary increase for city employees as determined by a pay study authorized earlier this year by council.

The salary study is almost certain to recommend increasing the salary of a number of city employees. The study has not been finalized at this point, Pennington said.

“Right now the indications are that we’re OK in some places but we are not OK in some others,” Pennington said.

The city is also looking to hire 16 full-time landscaping employees to move all landscaping services back in house, as a number of residents have been displeased with the lack of quality from the city’s landscaping contractors. That comes with an extra cost of $382,000 (compared to what the city set aside for contracted services this budget year) and accounts for about 22 percent of the projected tax increase.

There was also a significant sentiment on council to work harder on cart path resurfacing, but in reality is limited by the paving season, equipment and manpower, Pennington confirmed.

Some residents have complained of bumps in the cart path system, but part of that is to be expected, Pennington said. The city makes efforts to cut out trees and roots that cause problems, he added.

“Those cart paths are laid out in the middle of the woods, that’s what they were intended for,” Pennington said. “You might get a little bump, that’s what happens in nature, but we try to keep it as smooth as we can.”

Again speaking about the tax increase as necessary to handle road resurfacing, Pennington recalled previously working for a city in Florida that prided itself on low taxes, and while all the cities surrounding them kept their road standards high, his city suffered from significant road problems that took five years to get back to a reasonable level.

“I don’t like raising taxes and I don’t like recommending them, but my gosh, you don’t want to see your city collapse either,” Pennington said. “I am a taxpayer and I don’t like it, but I am willing to maintain the value of my property and they go hand-in-glove with each other.”

Council hasn’t made any final decisions on the budget yet, as council members received their detailed budget documents sometime this week. If council decides to increase property taxes, three separate public hearings will be required prior to the vote to adopt such a budget.

McCartneys Dad
McCartneys Dad's picture
Joined: 11/24/2008
Comments by Escaped

Well said, and I totally agree.

escaped's picture
Joined: 03/09/2010
I would pay $500 more a year in property taxes.

I left a nearby city 5 years ago to move to PTC. Yes the taxes are higher but there is no question my kids are safer, the schools are better, the police actually enforce the laws, and on top of all that, we have cart paths and things like the 4th of July celebration.

This is a great city and I get more than my money's worth for my property tax dollars.

If people want to leave PTC over $100 a year, trust me, you don't want to live next to them anyway.

If we want to leave PTC better than we found it, we need to pay our bills, and the improvements these taxes pay for will attract a class of people who do not mind paying the taxes.

You get what you pay for in this life, and while it mile save me tax dollars, I have no interest in moving to Riverdale, GA.

Hope that helps.

Robert W. Morgan
Robert W. Morgan's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
escaped, you sure have that right. You are a good citizen.

You know that you have to pay for what you receive, although others do not and think this city is a free lunch. Glad you with the program and I agree - more taxes to keep up the values is pretty much and no-brainer.The $100 whiners are mostly renters and they need to go away.

The best way to live in PTC is to assume your kids and grandkids will live here as well. If you do that, you will help the schools get better, volunteer for projects that help kids, adults and seniors, shop locally and best of all do every single thing you can to help the community. Maybe you run for city council, maybe you work with Al Y. to pick up trash, maybe you coach a soccer team. Just do something. I did and I feel good about myself and my grandkids. 30 years here and I am happy.

rationalchic's picture
Joined: 11/12/2009
Cart paths

Cart paths a little bumpy? Maybe he needs to see the last 3 repairs bills and damaged golf carts from riding daily on these paths. Driving through the woods would be less bumpy. Everything from Robbingson Rd/ Crosstown to Krogers is more than a mess. The only place that has been resurfaced, are areas like around the retirement center where you could view from the road. There are paths now that are almost un-useable. I would even say I agreed to a tax raise to keep my community up to par. Then you hear crap like this and where the money really goes, vs. where's it's needed.

The cart paths are a main selling attraction for PTC real estate. I would say someone that is going to ask for a tax raise and that's helps determining where it goes, needs to get out personally and spend a little time in nature. At lease be up to par in what you're talking about.

brewster's picture
Joined: 01/14/2011
cart path speed bumps

Those come in handy to slow down the maniacs.

moelarrycurly's picture
Joined: 10/17/2010

If only that were so.

moelarrycurly's picture
Joined: 10/17/2010
Pennington truthmeter off the deep end of the charts

"The city makes efforts to cut out trees and roots that cause problems....Those cart paths are laid out in the middle of the woods, that's what they were intended for. You might get a little bump, that's what happens in nature, but we try to keep it as smooth as we can."

I bet you free tickets to the concert series, Dr. P, you don't have a clue what is on those paths. Unless you are riding in the comfort of your city SUV or some staff truck for a few yards. Put the list of areas of where and when trees and roots have been taken down on the PW website. Not fallen from storms, not from dead trees, but proactively been removing them AND how the roots have been removed.

A little bump? Even Imker knows that joke. You want to see how a path is paved properly and without "bumps"? Look at the new path over the Rockspray pond dam. Check out the seamless connection to the existing path. Funny how contractors can do it with no bump. Roots have not been "smoothed out" on these paths for years, other than ripping up the asphalt, ripping out roots, then laying new asphalt down with two new bumps at either end. I can count on one hand how many time that has been done since Dr. P. has lived here.

Hogwash from Dr. P., pure hogwash.

Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Joined: 07/23/2012
I'm good with this

Good to get back to basics and not mess around with temporary splosts for basic costs.

moelarrycurly's picture
Joined: 10/17/2010

Ask to see the list of street paving needs. Ask to see the associated costs for those due now, not 5 or 10 years down the proverbial road.

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