Budget blown by pay hike, PTC spends reserve to pay for it


When you write a check for your annual property taxes this month, remember the amount is higher than it should or needs to be because of a tax increase voted by the Peachtree City Council on Sept. 1, 2016 (agenda item 08-16-16).

Last year City Council said there would not be a tax increase in 2016. We were told something that wasn’t true.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that property taxes increase when property values increase. To keep taxes stable, a rollback in the millage rate would have been required. This is documented in the minutes of the agenda item from Sept. 1 this year which said, “… the proposed millage was classified as a tax increase.” The rollback didn’t happen.

Last year, a council member said they wouldn’t be using any city reserves in 2016. That has proven to be completely false.

As I write this, the city’s books show the Council used $1,142,629 of our reserves in Fiscal Year 2016 that ended on Sept. 30, 2016. This is documented in an open records request dated Sept. 17, 2016, which was answered by the city finance officer.

While the numbers will be adjusted and finalized at the end of the calendar year, I can say with near 100 percent confidence council’s spending of our surplus will be over one million dollars.

I believe council considers itself blameless, perhaps thinking this is the cost of doing business. Any guesses as to the real root cause?

Of course: that outrageous pay raise two years ago when we were promised it wouldn’t have the effects it is now having.

That pay raise has had a cumulative effect year after year but Council just didn’t understand what they were doing. Council member Learnard and I understood. That pay raise vote went 3-2 (Mr. Prebor wasn’t on council at the time) so now we’re suffering the downstream effects of that vote with tax increases and using reserves.

The majority was warned, but they failed in their fiscal responsibility. Council was shown the numbers on the video screen in the council chambers on Aug. 21, 2014, that PTC city employees were already the best paid in comparable positions in the surrounding area.

A logical and financially sustainable raise was at first passed. It benefited the lowest-paid employees while the already best paid were offered lower raises. This wasn’t good enough for the majority. As a result, Council screwed up the budget for years to come.

This pay raise was so far out of line, the Fayette County Commissioners commented when doing their own pay raise study that Peachtree City salaries should not be included because they were now so out of whack.

The proof of all this is in the budget figures available at the city’s financial office. I take the time often to follow up with them. Does any Council member?

Eric Imker
Candidate for mayor
Peachtree City, Ga.