The annual City Council retreat is coming up the second weekend in March. This is where council discusses its priorities for the remainder of this year and they begin to discuss the budget for 2011. It is a great opportunity for citizens to be heard as well as be educated on exactly what council is considering for next year and what it deems to be priorities.
Are council’s priorities our priorities? If not, it is a perfect time to let them know. If so, it is equally important that they hear that as well.
There were approximately 43 people in attendance for Councilman Imker’s Budget workshop Jan. 30. A lot of people had a lot of great ideas. It was wonderful to see such interest from the public in helping to make the budget work. I hope we continue to see the same kind of turnout in March for the retreat, and later when the budget process really gets hopping.
When you consider what we see as our priorities for our city think about why we live here, what makes PTC unique from other communities, and what we are and are not willing to give up as citizens in an effort to tighten the budget.
What services do we think our tax dollars should pay for, and what services do we think should be paid only by those that choose to use them?
Also keep in mind that we are the only Class B city that funds its own EMS and has a 90-mile path system. Despite what we may hear, we do not have a wasteful budget. We are an efficiently run city.
This is not to say that nothing can be improved. But right now we need to improve to the tune of a $3.3-million deficit for 2011. We are not going to see that kind of budget-cutting without impacting services. Also keep in mind with the county’s predicted decline in the tax digest for 2011, this $3.3-million figure may even be higher by this time next year.
We need to think hard about the kind of PTC we want to live in and pay for. Yes, we can control certain aspects of our budget. But we cannot control the economy and how it could greatly impact that budget. We all need to determine that if necessary, after exhausting all other options, is a small increase in our tax bill for 2011 not worth keeping this town the way we want it?
When we decide, we must let our leaders know. Their job is to reflect our will in their planning and budgeting. If we have not taken the time to let them know our will when they have the ability to act on it, then we cannot cry foul come next year.
Our responsibility as citizens does not end at the polls. In trying times especially, our city leaders need to know what our priorities are in order to represent us with integrity. Let’s do our part to help them along.
The annual retreat is a great opportunity to do just that.
Look for announcements both in the paper and in the PTC weekly update (if you do not get this via email each week, it is great; go to www.peachtree-city.org/index.aspx?nid=769 and sign up) for more specifics about the retreat agenda March 12 and 13.
Hope to see you there!
Peachtree City, Ga.