Public gets say Thursday on $27.7 million PTC budget


Citizens will get another chance to sound off about the proposed $27.7 million budget for Peachtree City at a public hearing Thursday night.

The hearing will occur as part of the City Council meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. Council will not vote on the budget Thursday; that vote is slated for its regular meeting Aug. 4.

The city is poised to avoid enacting a property tax increase, instead absorbing a slight hit to tax revenues due to declining property values.

The budget contains more than $250,000 in savings expected from further staff reorganization later in the fiscal year. It also includes $240,000 in one-time bonuses to city employees, equivalent to 2 percent of their salary. Councilman Eric Imker has proposed shrinking that figure to $140,000 and spreading it evenly among all city employees instead of based on each employee’s salary.

Imker also has suggested another $162,000 in budget cuts, half of which would come from departmental contingency funds and the rest from reductions in volunteer firefighter stipends ($10,000), small tools and equipment ($24,000), the public improvement program contingency ($35,000), dues and fees ($8,000) and books and periodicals ($4,000).

Councilman Doug Sturbaum also has a separate list of about $91,000 in budget cuts he has suggested staff consider.

Mayor Don Haddix, meanwhile, has argued the city needs to look at potential service cuts and eliminating the use of tax dollars to fund recreation, instead funding it solely on fees.

Haddix has said the recession is not over, noting that the city is likely to find itself dealing with continued decline in property values and corresponding property tax revenues.

The proposed budget will result in the reduction of five positions in the recreation department as part of a reorganization. Also, the budget proposes elimination of a vacant public works position while adding three new staff positions including a community services director, an accounting supervisor and a marketing coordinator for the Peachtree City Convention and Visitors Bureau. The latter position will be paid for with funds from the city’s hotel tax money.

A fourth hire would be for the city’s stormwater program and would be paid for with money from that separate fund, officials said.

In addition to budget cuts for this year, Imker also has proposed several long-term budget cuts, including revamping the city’s employee evaluation system from a three-tier system to a two-tier system that has smaller merit salary increases. That possibility is being studied by city staff at the direction of council.

Imker contended that change could save the city $900,000 over a five-year period. He also has suggested changing the city’s personnel leave policy to make it easier to administer while also saving money.

Another suggestion from Imker was to get rid of the city’s defined contribution plan in exchange for eliminating a $600 per employee increase in employee health insurance premiums that was implemented several years ago. That change would save a projected $250,000 over five years.