Peachtree City’s budget dilemma isn’t new, nor is it unique, but we could be unique if we decide to actually do something about it.
Previous administrations may well have seen this coming, but they elected to roll the dice in hopes of better economic times. Those who “buried their heads in the sand” may even have known that these good economic times would have hidden the problems from view to all but the most astute.
We mere citizens simply took for granted the lifestyle and amenities our city had to offer and unwittingly allowed our city administrators to run amok developing our planned city.
All that is in the past and it does no appreciable good to keep harping upon it. What we must do is focus on where we want our city to be 10, 20, and 50 years from now.
On Saturday, a budget meeting was held with hopes of soliciting ideas on how we should proceed and attended by some 40 citizens who may well provide the impetus for getting started.
Handouts on where we are and where we’ll be in the out years were provided along with a single-spaced page and one-half of ideas to remedy the crisis. A good effort, a decent beginning, and now let’s see if consensus can be attained on what we need to do. The following is this writer’s suggestion as a place to begin:
First, abolish all 5 percent annual increases in departmental budgets for a period of five years or a period of three consecutive years of positive economic growth, whichever is greater. Reopen for reconsideration only in no less than five years and the city has balanced its budget without resorting to reserve funds.
Eliminate completely the Peachtree City Tourism Association and the nearly half-million-dollar annual budget that goes along with it.
Reduce by 10 percent the salary of all city employees earning above $100,000 annually.
Delay for 12 months upgrades to cart paths that are currently unfunded along with associated “studies.”
Follow the lead of contracting the Tennis Center by doing the same with The Fred Amphitheater. Consider the same for the Aquatic Center; only consider selling it as a first option.
Eliminate the use of large SUVs by department heads; compact trucks save money. Combine all staff trips about town and restrict city vehicles to the city limits.
Utilize teleconference and videoconference for all out of town meetings/conferences.
These are but seven and I’m certain my fellow citizens and neighbors have other suggestions. To further delay the inevitable is to court catastrophe. It’s time to get serious; governments at all levels must live within their means. Having our grandchildren inherit our debt is not only irresponsible but an embarrassment.
Michael L. “Mike” King
Peachtree City, Ga.