Fayette as tax donor county, gun show, city survey


A new year means new and old challenges, some changes and looking at the 2012 budget and millage rates. So, as always, a lot to do.

Here we go again, as reported in The Citizen, Georgia House Speaker Ralston has intervened into the operation of the Transportation Roundtable because he had concerns over getting the tax passed. It resulted in Mayor Reed, of Atlanta, being put on the Executive Committee. So much for the legislature not getting involved in the process after passage of the bill.

“Wait and see” is the answer when asking for much needed changes to the bill while “do it now” is the rule to get obstacles to the bill out of the way. First action was to get me off the Roundtable and now adding Mayor Reed due to not having enough pro transit members or Atlanta representation on the Executive Committee.

Chairman Frady and Mayor Steele, our Roundtable representatives, voted for this move. It remains clear to me they want this tax passed. If they did not, voting against adding Mayor Reed would have been the appropriate vote.

If any doubts here are quotes from Mayor Steele in the official Georgia Municipal Association’s publication, “Georgia Cities,” for Jan. 5, 2011, “City leaders must be involved in the regional transportation Roundtables. That’s where we are going to be able to address some of the transportation issues of our region: what’s good for my region is also good for my city.”

Note the “my region” and “my city.” Who is he representing, Fayette as a whole first or the ARC? Where was the rest of the county in his thinking as he spoke?

What transportation issue was he thinking of when speaking? Widening Ga. Highway 92 to the county line and then working with Fulton to connect it to Interstate 85 to create another development corridor, parts of which he already has plans to annex into Fayetteville? The interconnection of the West Fayetteville Bypass with Hwy. 92 as well?

The deck was already stacked in giving Atlanta an extra vote and the inclusion of Concept 3 in the bill. But that was not enough; the extra vote now also must sit on the Executive Committee that formulates the final criteria and first Constrained List for the voters.

If anyone has been thinking this bill is not about Atlanta, not even the rest of Fulton or the other nine counties, they need to think again. As a donor county, Fayette is in a losing position.

GDOT Commissioner Vance Smith spoke to the Peachtree City Rotary Club on Jan. 6. He said the bill isn’t perfect, but it is the best we have and we need to pass it.

Never mind, as I said before, Fayette is a donor county where, to illustrate, we will hand over $5 get $1 back. Commissioner Smith and Mayor Steele have both said being a donor county benefits us. Commissioner Smith even said Georgia being a donor state to such as New York is good for Georgia.

Moving on to Peachtree City, we welcome Joey Grisham as our Economic Development Coordinator. He will be working for the city and with the county and Peachtree City development authorities. We all hope his efforts are fruitful for Peachtree City.

One change to his duties from the original intent is working for the Development Authority of Peachtree City as needed instead of DAPC working for him, which was a hot button issue last year. That is one major step in the right direction and a recognition DAPC indeed has more scope than a coordinator possesses. I am very pleased with this acknowledgment.

On canceling the knife and gun show at the Kedron Center, I have been asked several times why Council canceled it. Council had supported the show when asked initially. The decision to cancel came from the Leisure Services Department without any consultation with me as mayor or the council as a whole being made prior to the decision.

Council has never set any policy defining what is a “good fit” or not for usage. A “good fit” is what the citizens of Peachtree City will attend and support.

We had five objections to the show, but far more endorsements. People are entitled to an anti-gun belief if they wish. But that is not grounds for closing the door on all the shooters, collectors and owners in Peachtree City. Last I looked the Second Amendment was the law of the land.

Regarding the 2012 budget and millage rates, the annual citizen survey will be available soon online and in hard copy. I urge everyone to fill it out and submit it. It is the largest single source of citizen input we get each year, so the more the better.

You will see a number of questions on basic information about you and Peachtree City. That information is very useful to us in setting priorities, both council- and staff-wise. There are questions on various areas of the city where you can tell us where your priorities are on expenditures.

Some questions ask if you want to spend money on potential projects. Please pay attention to the millage rate increase given, as that would be an increase to your property tax.

One such proposal is the question of do you want a year-round pool? The actual point of the question is replacing the Kedron Aquatics Center Bubble at a cost of $250,000, or about a $2.50 per year tax increase on a $260,000 home. Not to mention the operations cost during the winter.

So the question could have been clearer, especially in meaning. So just asking if you want a year-round pool is misleading as to intent.

Finally, the question of overall taxes is an important one. That balances the questions on where do you want your money spent and do you want to have higher or lower taxes? It says you’re willing to be taxed at a certain level and you want the tax dollars to be spent in a certain way. In other words, what you want and are you willing to pay for it?

As a reminder, last year the millage rate was increased 1.25 mills on a 3-2 vote. That was part of a plan that included at least a .5 mill rate increase every year for the next 4 years. So the potential tax increases included within the survey are in addition to the base tax increase, not how the .5 would be spent.

It is very important there is a clear understanding as to what the survey is asking to give us the clearest and most accurate answers possible. Exactly how you feel on taxes and spending is important to know.

We have a great city. These are critical decision in rough times.

[Don Haddix was elected mayor of Peachtree City in 2009. Previously, he had served two years as a council member. His email is dhaddix@peachtree-city.org.]