How to bring new businesses to Peachtree City? That is the question that will continue to be debated until the 2011 budget is finalized in the next few weeks. We as a council all want to bring businesses into the city to fill our industrial and commercial areas, but we differ on the way to achieve this goal.
Currently, the city has a wonderful group of volunteers on the Development Authority which has taken on various projects to help retain and recruit businesses. They currently have a budget provided through our taxpayer dollars in the general fund of $35,000.
Presently, there is a proposal to fund the city’s Development Authority by an additional $115,000. We have seen a detailed budget outlined by the Development Authority as to how they will spend the money.
But behind the numbers there has not been a clear and succinct outline of goals and objectives that I feel are necessary when granting a large sum of taxpayer money to a volunteer organization.
A proper budget proposal should have included these details. The proposal should have included the current situation of how much developed but unfilled and how much undeveloped land is out there. It should have succinctly stated goals of what it intended to reach with a $150K budget. It didn’t.
It is still a young authority with many members just coming on board. No one questions the dedication this group has to the city. I spent many a night going to their meetings last summer and I am continually impressed at the caliber of our citizens and the volunteer spirit that makes us the envy of other towns.
As wonderful as our Development Authority is, I do not believe that raising the budget over $100,000 would be a wise expenditure of tax dollars during these budget shortfall years.
The Development Authority needs to focus on its charter of offering potential businesses financial incentives authorized by the state of Georgia that only a DA can do.
We have a number of other volunteer organizations that have their own source of revenues to support their activities. The Development Authority would be the only one solely supported by the city’s taxpayers. Plus, we are paying towards the county development authority as well. It is my opinion that we should keep the funding level at $35,000 instead of creating a much larger bureaucracy within the city.
But what I also think would be of benefit to the city would be a city employee who would have the title of economic development coordinator.
This person would oversee and focus the activities of the development authority, assist and implement redevelopment projects and serve as the liaison for the Economic Development Division with other divisions, departments, and outside agencies.
Redevelopment should be among the top priorities of the economic development coordinator. The city could help coordinate with property owners the redevelopment of some of our older residential and retail areas, if we had a city employee who had the expertise in how to do it.
To me it makes sense to have a paid employee who has a detailed job description and is held accountable for results. This paid employee can be the liaison between all of the organizations so that there isn’t any overlap between our commissions, authorities and what city staff are doing. This employee could be contracted on a year to year basis so that we, as a city, can truly get the accountability that we desire.
This debate should not be an adversarial one. We are truly fortunate to have such a dedicated community of volunteers and city staff who want what is best for the city of Peachtree City in an unprecedented economic downturn.
Peachtree City Council, Post 3
Peachtree City, Ga.