Visioning comparison to Franklin, Tenn., was off base

0
20

As I look around I see a political tornado in action. Believing now is a good time for a historical review, looking to the future and truth testing a lot that has been said. The 2012 bus ride to Franklin, Tenn., serves as a good filter for starting the endeavor.

Remember the big build-up for the special learning and study trek to Franklin, Tenn.? The foregone conclusions as to what would be found and brought back to help us, here? The affirmation of these conclusions upon return?

A lot has been said by then Council members Fleisch and Learnard, Visioning, the Chamber of Commerce and others about how similar Franklin, Tenn., is to Peachtree City. Their comments regarding the benefits of this sojourn were misleading as to who benefited.

We need to determine if this whole affair was true fact-finding or foregone conclusions seeking evidence.

For the sake of an apples to apples comparison, the same source will be used for the following, that being city-data.org. Also, 2012 data was used as that is when they took their road trip to Franklin.

Items that are very different between the two. Read as Franklin vs. Peachtree City:

Population: 66,280 vs. 34,662

Growth: 58.4 percent vs. 9.8 percent

Median Age: 37.0 – 41.7

Age compared to rest of state: 1.2 years younger vs. 2.0 years older

Median House Value: $320,800 vs. 252,514

Utilities: Sewer is city owned and operated vs. Sewer is authority owned and operated

Bus/Shuttlebus Transit Authority owned and operated vs. None

Development Authority: Industrial Development Board vs. None

CVB: County vs. Peachtree City Authority

Paths: Mostly limited to parks and are only for pedestrian and bicycle traffic vs. Over 90 miles of paths that include golf carts.

Transit is heavily subsidized with taxpayer money, $463,092.00 budgeted. That does not include subsidies from other sources, such as the county, and rider fares. Nor the fact the routes and run times are limited.

But, remember, The Chamber supports transit in Fayette. They were financial contributors to the “Untie Atlanta” campaign supporting the T-SPLOST.

Before running for office in 2009, Learnard wrote letters to the AJC and The Citizen pushing rail. In 2010, when Council removed the rail station from Huddleston Road in our Transpiration Plan, she wrote then-Chairman Jack Smith to put it back. Of course, he could not do so.

The purpose of a CVB is not “heads in beds,” as is the mantra of our CVB, but to attract tourism. That is clearly stated in Georgia law.

Why does the CVB push that definition instead of the legal one? Simple; their money comes from hotel/motel tax, so, increasing stays increase their revenue.

In the past, the CVB, and Fleisch, pushed hard for giving control of the sports fields to the CVB. That resulted a huge, behind the scenes battle, which isn’t over yet.

The CVB even hired an individual whose only job is recruiting tournaments. But, they do not control the sports fields, city streets, etc. They do not work for the hotels. They exist for all the city, emphasis on “all.”

Regarding recreational sports, Franklin has far fewer facilities. Remember, Peachtree City has 249 percent the amount of Rec [compared to other] Class B cities in Georgia.

In a Franklin citizen survey, found in their budget, sports was nowhere near a top concern. Lowering taxes and utility costs, I assume transit, were the main wants. Nor do they spend money on Rec like we do in Peachtree City.

Remember here, Fleisch and Learnard believe Rec is critical to growth, especially young families. A claim the facts and Franklin deny.

As for taxes, the property tax rate for Franklin is 37.65 cents per $100 of assessed value. For our home, on our current tax bill, we would pay $279.36 less this year.

I believe it is easy to see Franklin is apples to oranges with Peachtree City. That raises a lot of questions as to why this field trip was taken. That includes questions on any and all taxpayer money spent.

Fact is they went to Franklin stating it was virtually another Peachtree City. They still claimed that upon returning here.

How could that be after seeing how different Franklin is, unless that was not the goal? There was no reevaluation.

Looking at now, has anything of value been gained?

Visioning was created. The chairman is a leader in the local Tea Party/Republican Party. How he got the job is a mystery to most. Other leadership is from the Chamber.

What are their main goals? We hear them pushing actively for a better Performing Arts Center, which has very little support in the county. Also transportation, meaning transit and recruiting jobs, which is the function of the Fayette County Development Authority. Finally, bringing young families here and providing low cost housing.

The complete article, along with attachments, photos, charts, links and related articles can be found on donhaddix.com.

There is more to say, but that is for another day and another letter.

The material here begs the question as to what is the future of Peachtree City? Is it going to be ever increasing taxes, debt and spending? Will a plan/map to the future based on residents’ surveyed wants and needs ever be created? Will such as the Rec Board’s findings of excess spending in certain areas, unneeded facilities and programs ever be heeded?

Or, unfortunately, will it be the ongoing attitude of once it exists, it must be kept and maintained? Just add new spending items on top of old?

Adding more that continually increases costs should be reviewed with the whole community, first.

But that requires the community to believe Council will actually honor what they say.

Don Haddix
Peachtree City, Ga.

[Haddix is a former mayor of Peachtree City.]