“SPLOST is crack cocaine for local officials.”
“Local governments were literally scrambling to find ways to spend the potential windfall from extending a local sales tax increase.”
“The county also desires to pay the outstanding debt of the county Justice Center with the SPLOST funds. Now why would anyone in their right mind want to pay off the long-term debt obligations of the county all at one time, on our backs, in a horrible economy? The Justice Center will be used for generations to come, so why not let the people who move to town over the next 25 or so years help pay for the facility?”
“Government never seems to learn.” “… Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (a.k.a. ‘significant tax increase …’)“
Now who in the world said this? Citizen Steve Brown in two letters to the editor in 2009.
But now Chairman Brown is enticing cities to find ways to spend the potential windfall. He wants the cities to pay for a county problem under the guise of helping themselves.
I would also remind Peachtree City residential, retail and industrial citizens we just got hit with a 137 percent stormwater fee, 2 percent hotel/motel tax increase and a .372 millage rate increase. There was also the 1.25 mill tax increase in 2010.
Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household spends about $18,885.00 on transportation, food, clothing and other annually. These are taxable items, not including taxable entertainment. That means the SPLOST cost on the average household will be about $200 a year.
There is no way around it, folks, the SPLOST is a “significant tax increase.”
The question to those in the unincorporated county is how does this compare to the stormwater utility bill you received?
Obviously, if the SPLOST goes on the ballot, we need a proposal. My proposal is pure debt reduction, starting with the general obligation bonds. After that, select the best debts to pay off from our total debt of about $15 million.
This approach will reduce our annual spending on debt by about $3 million a year. With $3 million a year more in the general fund, we can pay for roads, paths and get a tax reduction.
Remember, that is a savings for each and every year to come. It is not a one-year Band-Aid.
Sounds like a reason to support the SPLOST? It isn’t. Remember, this is a $200 a year tax increase on an average home supported by Peachtree City Council members who keep raising taxes and debt.
As well, after all Chairman Brown said in the past on a SPLOST, when confronted with a fiscal problem, he is now promoting one. Do you really think this will end in two years?
A SPLOST works where it replaces debt and property tax. It does not work in addition to debt and property tax.
In Peachtree City we need to provide for road and path maintenance. But not by utilizing increasing debt and taxes.
It is a vicious cycle of add debt which adds debt maintenance costs (credit card payments) every year leading to higher taxes or more debt.
So what is my fiscal plan? The same one since 2007, meaning find out what our citizens want, create a comprehensive strategic plan and then adjust our services and spending accordingly. Then we can evaluate where we stand and proceed from there.
OnePTC and the Needs Assessment Survey are both complete and contain data to use in creating the plan. They already point to areas to adjust, cut spending and provide greater returns for the city.
The future land use plan will be completed by the end of the year. Then comes the town halls in January and/or February.
With that guidance staff can create a cohesive and accurate service, income and spending plan. That is a long term plan for success.
Why not this year? Because the four council members do not support creating such a plan. They prefer their own personal thinking, priorities, Band-Aid budgeting and more debt and taxes. That approach has never worked before and will not work now.
When I pushed for changes at The Fred in 2008, the Tennis Center and Kedron Fieldhouse in 2009, and other areas, it resulted in savings to the city of over a $1 million every year with greater, not reduced, services. What I am proposing here will save even more.
Peachtree City needs a solid vision, goal and plan to get there. This is how to achieve it.
Don Haddix, mayor
Peachtree City, Ga.