Why doesn’t PTC’s King get it?


Council member Mike King does not get it – He votes against PTC taxpayers.

Mr. King’s actions and omissions at the Nov. 20, 2014, City Council meeting testify to his misunderstanding and mishandling of the real issues. I am sure he will not be surprised the following points are brought to his attention.

1. After repeatedly stating the un-budgeted employee pay hike would not be funded by reserves or by a tax increase, this is what is happening and that is what Mr. King voted for. City employees are being paid their new salaries from city reserves – and depleting those reserves.

Mr. King, please read the city charter: Reserves are for emergencies. Next year, a tax hike will be needed to fund the new high salaries; and the negative long-term effect on PTC’s budget will be even more damaging.

By voting the way he did, Mr. King was either ignorant of both city budget facts and of the already higher pay scale for PTC employees versus those of neighboring Fayetteville, Newnan and Fayette County, or just incompetent. Regardless of reason, his vote is reprehensible.

2. Mr. King’s allegation that there will be “plenty of new money” coming to the city willfully ignores that a vast portion of those “new” funds would have already been included and appropriated in the city’s budget plan.

This is a manifestation of Mr. King’s serious misunderstanding of budget intricacies. In other words, he may be out of his depth. Yet, Mr. King wants to play the shell game with the new money. But voters are not stupid — or are they? — as he seems to be counting on.

3. The highlight of Mr. King’s participation at the Nov. 20 council meeting was his theatrics during a cynical assertion that the quality of the PTC employees was measured by how three EMR staff saved a small child.

Mr. King, are you saying that without the pay increase those three employees would not have saved that child? God bless those employees, their dedication and the result of their efforts, but shame on Mr. King for using this as a political pawn.

4. Mr. King’s refusal to listen to citizens and taxpayers. While in his Dec. 3 letter to The Citizen he claims that he has heard from an equal number of citizens that support the pay increase as those who oppose it. That is an allegation that I can’t dispute as much as Mr. King can prove.

But what is a fact is that the one council meeting where this pay increase was allowed open floor discussion, seven citizens spoke against the pay hike and the consequential tax increase, and only two in favor. And, the two who spoke in favor are members of two different city commissions and they were clearly pandering to the same council that rules their membership in those commissions.

To add insult, one of those two is the very next-door neighbor to Mayor Vanessa Fleisch, hardly an impartial reflection on how PTC citizens feel.

5. The passivity shown by Mr. King in tolerating a “public” speaker who read a letter from a source the reader — even after questioning by one council member — refused to disclose. This speaker may have been a surrogate for someone within the council.

To preempt questions as to my alleging the possibility of a surrogate, I invite Mr. King to judge how else could the undisclosed author of the letter know all the facts and minute details the letter divulged? Isn’t it highly suspect that it could only have come from a person with intimate knowledge of the private workings of the PTC Council? (And by the way, it is obvious the details for said letter did not come from council members Imker nor Learnard, since they were the opposition vote, and I don’t think the details came from Mr. King.)

6. What Mr. King and the mayor’s next-door neighbor along with the letter-reading possible surrogate don’t get is that the issue is not that city employees get a raise. Most residents I have spoken with believe PTC employees should be paid at the top of the salary scale; and the tax increase sum is not that much of an issue.

The matter is how careless and irresponsible the council majority was in approving an un-budgeted expense of about $900,000, based on a misleading pay study and without reasonable open floor council discussion or opportunity for taxpayer input.

7. Mr. King wrote that the evaluation of PTC employees’ pay scales was not initiated by city management, but that it was undertaken by the city manager at council’s direct request. In my opinion that may not be entirely the case nor the truth.

To support my opinion, I submit that open record requests made to the city to inquire about the process behind the pay study disclosed that council was not involved until just a few weeks before they voted. Then again, if what Mr. King wrote in his open letter is true, why has he so proactively blocked open discussion regarding the pay increase and the process behind it at open council meetings?

Instead, every time when more open discussion on the pay increase has surfaced – both privately and at council meetings – Mr. King has repeatedly said, “This pay increase is done deal, let’s not beat a dead horse.”

8. In his letter, Mr. King asserts his vote on the pay raise was driven by the need to bring “fair treatment to the pay structure.” In my opinion, this is nothing but an excuse.

The truth that Mr. King does not get is that the average PTC pay scale was — even before the increase — already higher by double digit percentages than that of comparable positions at Newnan, Fayetteville and Fayette County. In fact, open records from the city itself show that the claim that PTC employees were paid at the 35th percentile was never mentioned by the pay study; in other words, a total fabrication.

Again, these facts were presented at open floor PTC Council meetings, but Mr. King’s actions were to ignore those facts and move to block and end the discussion.

9. As stated in Mr. Kink’s letter only a “few employees” were involved in the pay study recommendations. I guess that is one way to look at it; and by that account Mr. King is right. Another way is to say that out of seven members of the pay study committee, seven were relatively high ranking city employees, and that it was the high ranking and more highly pay employees that received the larger pay increases. As an example, two of the employees in the committee received increases of 18 percent and 26 percent.

9. The bottom line is Mr. King voted on the pay increases based on data to make a decision based on conveniently massaged facts, and foremost that he failed to ask questions or press for open discussion. What Mr. King does not get is that from many a voting/taxpayer’s vantage point, he failed his fiduciary obligation as an elected official to be fully informed and instead, to cover for his error, Mr. King opted to impose higher taxes upon PTC residents.

10. The low point of Mr. King’s failings has to be that despite efforts to present the true issues, numbers and facts at the Nov. 20 council meeting, he actually voted to stop the floor debate on the dubious salary study, and contemptuously disregarded the facts presented.

Facts are facts, Mr. King, and facts don’t lie. The only fact that remains unanswered here is: why are you not getting it?

Franco Artiles
Peachtree City, Ga.