Peachtree City grapples with costs of ‘aging community’

Peachtree City Manager Jon Rorie (R) confers with City Attorney Ted Meeker at a City Council meeting. Photo/Cal Beverly.
Peachtree City Manager Jon Rorie (R) confers with City Attorney Ted Meeker at a City Council meeting. Photo/Cal Beverly.

‘Sustainability’ is theme of March 5 public workshop; ‘big things are coming’ —

Like a teacher prepping students for a hard test, Peachtree City Manager Jon Rorie spent over an hour Feb. 21 laying the groundwork for the City Council’s scheduled March 5 workshop that will focus on how to pay for the “sustainability” of “an aging community.”

One recurring mantra: One dollar of city funding can be spent only once. The underlying unanswered question: Where does the city get the money necessary to repair or replace the infrastructure of a city about to turn 60 years old?

Rorie’s basis for concern is that the planned city was built by developers who never expected to have to pay to keep up what they were building after they left. And the city itself has only in the past decade begun spending serious money on repairs and upgrades.

“We are safeguarding our community,” Rorie said. “Where’s it going for the next 50 years? We need to know where we are at.”

He ticked off the statistics of what has become the trademark feature of Peachtree City: More than 100 miles of multi-use paths, a $20 million asset; 29 tunnels; 35 bridges; 197 at-grade crossings; but only 16 projects covered by funding from the recent SPLOST passage.

Public “investment” in the infrastructure is needed, Rorie said, meaning higher or new taxes. “Where to invest for 35,000 people? Big things are coming.”

City officials first posted in early February the notice for the scheduled three workshops. It’s headline was “Sustainability to be the overall theme for the three monthly sessions.”

Here’s that online notice:

The Peachtree City Mayor and City Council will hold the first of three Retreat Workshops for 2019 on Tuesday, March 5, 6:30 p.m., in Council Chambers. The public is welcome. The discussion topics will concentrate on safeguarding our community, to include:

• Comprehensive Plan Initiatives

• Development/Re-Development Initiatives and Tools

• Public Investment – Infrastructure Maintenance and Updates

• Private Investments – Community Improvement Districts

• 54 West

• 54 East

• Huddleston Road

• Code Enforcement.

City Manager Jon Rorie said, “We’re celebrating 60 years of Peachtree City this year, so the Mayor and Council want to focus on what the next half-century looks like for our community.”

He continued, “Over the past several years, we have been addressing deferred maintenance of our facilities and infrastructure with two Facilities Bonds and the 2017 SPLOST. We have to make sure that Peachtree City as an entity can sustain the service levels our residents want as we continue to age.”

Two additional Retreat workshops are planned for Tuesday, April 2, and Tuesday, May 7, before the Council and staff begin working on the Fiscal Year 2020 budget in June. Discussion topics will be posted as they are finalized.