Several readers asked why I stopped writing opinion columns on local issues. The reason is that it was not in my financial interest to irritate the Peachtree City mayor and council during the months leading up to the scheduled vote on my application for the city to annex a tract of land adjacent to the Peachtree City limits. The strategy didn’t work and my nice guy routine was a complete flop!
The mayor and council rejected the Bradshaw Properties Management, LLC request by a 4-0 vote while enthusiastically approving spot annexation of neighboring properties in the same corridor. It is an interesting story but I will not comment on the incentives of elected city officials to hand pick properties for their annexation excursions.
Since annexation of my future mixed use land development project is off the table, I have some catching up to do on Peachtree City politics. Consequently, I submitted a list of questions to the Rotary Club of Peachtree City for use by the moderator in questioning mayoral and city council candidates at the “Meet the Candidates” Political Forum last night. My questions to all candidates are as follows:
•The Peachtree City Leisure Services Department (Recreation) has been dismantled by the current mayor and council, key staff positions have been terminated, two buildings have been turned over to Fayette Senior Services, staff has been relocated to satellite facilities and more reductions in services appear to be on the horizon. What is your vision for future recreation programs in Peachtree City and where would you place recreation on the list of priorities?
•Although the village concept was a central part of the original land use planning for Peachtree City, some citizens feel the existing villages are no longer functional or easily identifiable. What steps would you take to place emphasis on the village concept or do you think the concept is dead and should be abandoned?
•The budget reserve fund has decreased significantly during the past three years. What do you think is an appropriate amount for the city to maintain in reserve for emergencies?
•There has been considerable publicity about the number of vehicles in the police department and the widespread practice of permitting officers to drive police cars home….even if they live outside of Fayette County. Will you support keeping this policy as it exists or changing it?
• What is your position on the November referendum to approve an extra penny sales tax to support storm water improvements in Fayette County (including Peachtree City)? If it is approved, will you support eliminating the Peachtree City stormwater fee to avoid double taxation of city residents?
•What is your position on using the annexation of land as a vehicle to solidify the tax base, increase revenue for the sewer system, and insure that nearby developments are built to Peachtree City standards?
•What is your position on the periodic requests of homeowner groups living on privately owned streets to have the city assume financial responsibility for improving and upgrading streets that were constructed without curb and gutter, lack adequate storm drain systems, and are not built according to Peachtree City specifications?
•What changes would you propose with respect to golf cart regulations and how would you propose enforcing the proper and safe use of the cart paths?
•What do you see as the role of the City in economic development and how should the efforts of city staff interface with the work of the members and staff of the Fayette County Development Authority?
• Have you read the city charter? If so, would you support the appointment of a blue ribbon citizens committee to make recommendations to update the charter?
• The city has outsourced grass cutting and maintenance of right-of ways, senior services, building department construction plan reviews, most building inspections, and leased the tennis center to a private operator. How is privatization working and how often should these contracts for services be reviewed and opened up for new bids? What other services should be outsourced and what other facilities should be leased to private operators?
• Under what circumstances would you vote to increase the property tax millage rate?
• Do you support the establishment of a permanent Peachtree City arts Council to promote and support the cultural and performing arts in Peachtree City? How would you propose it be funded?
• Describe your understanding of the proper roles of the mayor, city council members and the city manager in the day to day operation of the city.
These questions are offered as a basis for meaningful dialog between the citizens of Peachtree City and the twelve candidates who aspire to serve as mayor or council members. I challenge the candidates to publicly answer these questions in writing and state their positions on other relevant issues between now and the election on November 5. That should help get the ball rolling on meaningful dialog.
[Scott Bradshaw, a resident of Peachtree City, is a real estate broker and residential real estate developer. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]