The December City Council meeting had a few agenda items that are of note and should be of interest to the residents of Peachtree City. I feel two warrant comments in addition to The Citizen’s reporting.
On the “PTC closes legal pay loophole,” some additional information is valuable to paint a full picture of the historical circus cited as the motivation for this ordinance.
It was political from the beginning. The council members claimed I was guilty of certain illegal acts, a claim they had to retract in the settlement agreement. The council members claimed they could deny filing with GIRMA, which is clearly shown as false in the ordinance and in its total absence in any provision of any legal document. They claimed they had to authorize or deny payment of the GIRMA deductible. Again false.
This circus ended with my salary restored via the settlement agreement, in which they had to also take back their slanderous and libelous claims against me, and the proposal of the ordinance to codify what powers they claimed they already possessed. The circus cost the city wasted time and money for the sake of purely personal and political attacks.
This ordinance does not and cannot give them the powers they had tried to demand.
The ordinance requires those named a lawsuit notify the rest before filing with GIRMA.
It also says they will vote and give their opinions, which will be included in the GIRMA filing. The reality is this is pointless since they cannot prevent any filing and GIRMA, as already shown, will disregard their opinions.
What it does do is put the issue into a public meeting for discussion, requires a vote and possibly turning yet another issue into another circus.
It also requires the request for payment to be submitted to the city manager or council. Again, another pointless requirement since all such bills already go to Human Resources, which notifies the city manager. Nor can payment of the deductible be denied.
Currently, if a lawsuit is filed, everyone is going to know because the press keeps an eye out for such things. So, no gain and no point since it is puzzling to think an elected [official] isn’t going to submit it to GIRMA.
This ordinance is dangerous. As with my case, if it had been handled properly it would have immediately been given to GIRMA, I would have been defended on Day One as mayor. That would have discredited the major claim I was a private citizen and brought the case to a quick and cheap closure.
Keep the politics out. We employ GIRMA as a third party to get the politics out of issues like this. The city does not put other legal issues on the dais for open discussion, etc. This should be treated no differently.
Anyone can be sued for any claim at anytime. It does not matter if it is true or false. Lawsuits can be for no other purpose than trying to drive someone out of office.
This ordinance is an attempt to place laser focus on an elected [official] not liked by the majority and to justify the actions of the council members. It does not.
Moving onto the hotel/motel tax, The Citizen was sent a copy of the statement I read at the Meeting. I don’t see it covered in the article.
Following are excepts from the statement:
“Per the proposal, page 2 shows the CVB currently receiving $569,200 at 6%. Page 3 shows, under the 8%, the CVB receiving $569,200. No gain.
“Page 2 shows the City receiving $286,000 into the General Fund. Page 3 shows the City receiving $426,900 into the General Fund and $142,300 to be dedicated to Recreation.
“Reality is the City is receiving $569,000 into the General Fund. There is no, and cannot be, any guarantee the City will spend $142,300 more on Recreation than it already does. Even if that were so in the Budget passed in 2013 the new Council in 2014 is not bound to do so as well.
“The simple fact is all council has to do is appropriate the budget and designate the first $142,300 as per the agreement. Then they are free to spend the rest of the money any way they wish.
“Nor do I see any letters of endorsement from the local companies, like NCR, who will be paying this extra 2% and are major industrial partners with the City and critical to our economy.
“It is known by all on council that our legislative delegation requires a 5-0 vote by council before they will approve anything we send to them.”
In fact, it was just a couple of months ago that one of the delegation, in an email on another issue, repeated that demand. So, it has not changed.
As well, all on Council know I did not support an increase in the Hotel/Motel Tax in the past and have stated I will not support any tax increases until we get our spending under control.
I remind all that I formed the Needs Assessment Committee because Peachtree City has never set spending priorities nor has ascertained what the citizens want.
Past surveys have called for no tax increases and reductions in Recreation to balance the Budget, which were ignored using excuses. The Committee is working on nailing down exactly what is wanted by Peachtree City in a way that cannot be ignored.
As for saying I am a frequent critic of spending on Recreation, some perspective on that statement is needed.
I voted for the creation of the Facilities Authority and have voted for all the spending to date, from that bond, on repairing Recreational facilities. So saying I am anti Recreation is nonsense.
Comparing us to like cities, we have 249% the amount of Recreation they do. But, the majority of users, overall, are not Peachtree City residents.
The Hotels and Motels and CVB want more tournaments, etc. But, a complaint I have heard for five years, by some associations and Peachtree City citizens, is that too much time is consumed renting it out and denying citizens usage.
Notice that no associations nor the Recreation and Special Events Committee signed onto this proposal, either. Shane Robinson only spoke for herself and in talking to a couple of people they were never made aware of the realities included in my statement.
Promises were made that cannot be kept, stakeholders that should have been included were not and this effort was kept from me, thus my input, until it was posted in the packet as an Agenda Item.
Being kept secret is nothing new, even though the City Charter requires the Mayor be included in all such efforts. This hiding of efforts causes a lot of problems and wasted time and money.
We do not look at our Budget, income and spending side, comprehensively. We have no long-term vision or plan per what the citizens want as priorities or goals. No financial or needs assessment has ever been done by city. The city manager has agreed with these points and has talked about them himself.
Until we have these things the continued cycle of the council majority to tax and spend is not something I will support because it is hurting the city.
Don Haddix, mayor
Peachtree City, Ga.