Good news! A brainstorm of the collective elected has come up with an idea. An enticing trap is being crafted to capture the goose that lays the golden eggs, meaning us, the citizens of Fayette County.
But wait … No goose. We, the residents of Fayette County are the answer and the SPLOST is yet another tax increase. About $200 a year on the average household.
They’re looking at the millions they would get to spend and then bragged what a great job they are doing for us. Or to us, depending on how you look at it.
In Eric Imker’s letter of 11/23/16 he says, “Council has already saddled us with higher taxes. They are using a million dollars in reserves to balance the budget.”
He wants you to think only in the terms of the current council and forget what he did when he was on the council.
From 2010 to 2015 Fleisch, Learnard and Imker voted for every tax, fee and debt increase proposed.
During that time their votes increased my property tax bill 32.44 percent while using the reserve to balance the budget. As well as increased the stormwater fee 132 percent and the hotel motel tax 2 percent.
In 2016 Fleisch and Learnard’s votes increased my tax bill another 8.2 percent.
Fleisch, Leamard and Imker supported the infamous TSPLOST and those backing it.
All three supported the failed 2010 county SPLOST. Then pushed for a SPLOST when I was mayor, but the county said no. Now they support a six year SPLOST.
Imker says, “If the SPLOST fails, one council member has already talked about increasing the millage rate three mills.” A very interesting statement since he tried the same scare tactic to get a new SPLOST passed before.
It does not matter to any of them that this is actually a double taxation proposal, yet again, which is against state law.
The county portion of the tax is supposed to benefit the whole county. Yet, Peachtree City and Fayetteville would have to pay the stormwater portion from which they get no benefit. That is because both cities already have stormwater and stormwater fees.
Imker also said, “Seven years ago, when the economy tanked, we went into survival mode for maintaining city services, especially road and cart path maintenance and landscaping services. The 2010 SPLOST had just failed. The previous council failed to plan for that. Taxes were increased by 1.25 mills not only because the SPLOST failed, but also because the next council had to deal with over $20 million in unfunded requirements. Here we are again with no plan other than raising taxes.”
I was a councilman on that previous council. That SPLOST was mainly for debt relief. When you pay off debt that eliminates the annual debt maintenance cost. That helps keep taxes lower.
Unlike Imker, Fleisch and Learnard, the prior council understood the answer to everything is not tax, fee and and debt increases. Sometimes the answer is to cut spending.
My proposals, that were passed, cut over a $1 million a year while improving services. Other proposals cut even more without hurting services.
Fact is staff had proposed outsourcing mowing. I had proposed replacing annual flower plantings with perennials. Also elimination of the sprinkler truck to water the flowers.
Those changes reduced spending by another $860,000 without hurting services.
In a survey done while I was mayor the citizens had no problem with the appearance of the city or landscaping services.
There was no landscaping service crisis.
The council under Mayor Fleisch wanted to go back to the old ways. They did some rehiring, planting flowers, etc. Including $250,000 per year to mow in January and February.
Yes, Imker was on that council.
Recreation became the new priority. Maintenance of streets and paths dropped to zero or near zero. At the same time, spending on Recreation went up millions.
Remember how tournaments were going to be our salvation? Remember how I warned it would not work. Which it didn’t. It just cost a lot of money. The only thing that works is bringing good paying jobs here, something they have no interest in.
Yet, at the same time, Imker proposed building new paths and crossings wanted by his friends.
Further, he says, “I hope the SPLOST passes. Further, I hope council has the good sense to then reduce the city’s millage rate by at least one mill. I’ve been advocating this approach for over a year. The net impact for the average citizen of a one-cent sales tax and a one-mill reduction in property tax would be nearly zero.”
The impact would be nearly zero? Really? A mill is nowhere near the $200 year tax increase of the SPLOST. So this is a totally false claim.
No talk about cutting spending. He ignores the fact that his approach demands a SPLOST in perpetuity.
This resembles his five-year plan of 2010 that was going to balance the budget and reduce taxes. A plan that was a total failure. As well he says, “Further, this would tell businesses they could trust that the city’s economic environment was managed by a competent council and staff. This would be essential in drawing new businesses to PTC. This too is huge.”
Business does not like ever increasing taxes. As well, Peachtree City is ranked the least tax friendly Class B city in Georgia.
Retail is not the answer to economic problems. Simply redistributing market share among more store fronts actually cost the city more in infrastructure and services. We need good-paying jobs. We need to expand the tax base, not take more money from it.
For jobs, you need an effective development authority. We do not have one. By law, city staff and elected [officials] cannot do it. It is illegal for them to even try. They do not have the needed resources.
Imker and the other two have never cared about that reality. They just dismiss it because they love power.
Imker is not the budget genius he thinks he is, or that Fleisch and Learnard have proclaimed him to be in the past.
It is time to stop listening to the fairy tales being presented by these three. It is time to start living within our means. To realize we cannot always have everything we want. To stop believing lies.
Yes, we can do cost cutting:
• Eliminate the January and February mowing. Right there is $250,000.
• Stop pretending recreation is a miracle solution. It isn’t.
• Stop paying for recreation for non-Peachtree City residents. It is a known fact parks and community and family activities are what are most wanted.
To continue as we are doing means allowing government to dictate more and more of what we want and need. Please understand, as well, cart paths are not paid for as part of recreation. They are part of public works.
We need change or be prepared to keep writing bigger and bigger checks for what we don’t want or need. Change that has to begin with who is elected to Council.
Please visit donhaddix.com
Peachtree City, Ga.
[Haddix is a former mayor of Peachtree City.]