The real story behind the Peachtree City ‘budget anxieties’

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Peachtree City is going to approve a fiscal year 2020 budget that seems to be out of kilter once again.
The monthly cries, “There isn’t enough money,” has lost its meaning, especially when one considers the income from SPLOST (the one cent added sales tax) and overpriced projects city council has engaged upon.
An Open Records request about SPLOST revenue taken in since July 2017 reveals Peachtree City is getting about $1 million per year more (!) than anticipated and budgeted.
That’s right, the first year of SPLOST that ended June 2018 Peachtree City got $832,085 more than planned. The second year that just ended June 2019 we are estimated to get $1,180,000 more than planned. This trend is likely to continue for the next four years; the duration of the SPLOST.
So, what do you do with an extra $6 million? Do you invest it in our roads and cart paths or do you use it on over-budget projects? How come Peachtree City City Council members have never told us about the windfall? What are they hiding? Future letters will contain million-dollar examples of over-spending and wastefulness.
Yet, city council members continue to cry poor house. Our city budget has gone off the tracks. Like last year, instead of a tax cut they found it necessary to raise taxes … again! We need new council members who know how to manage a budget.
Our taxes are 6.232 mills. This is over a point higher than our sister cities of Alpharetta (4.77 mills) and Roswell (5.2 mills). Those cities are seeing phenomenal industrial growth. If I were a business person I would go to where taxes are low. The one mill greater difference is a huge expense for businesses to come to Peachtree City.
City Council has successfully turned us into a bedroom community with horrible traffic problems. Our land use has been decimated. Residential here, residential there, residential everywhere. It’s true. You see it everywhere don’t you? Where’s the industrial? This was so easily avoided but they plowed ahead with thousands more residential (converted from industrial).
Now they even want to move our Community Gardens on Kelly Drive. Next step, rezoning the Gardens from “Open Space Public” to what, “Residential” or even worse, “Commercial,” welcoming more traffic. This is great for Realtors, not so much for the citizens. Unbelievable.
I ran for mayor two years ago on a platform of getting the budget under control, sane land use zoning, and finding real solutions to the traffic problems. Instead, most chose a Realtor with little or no budget experience for mayor. It shows.
Come this November you get a chance to put two new council members in office. The incumbents have got to go. They need not run again. I was elected to City Council in the past and voluntarily stepped down after my term. I may consider running again in the future but regardless whether I decide to run, change is needed.
In two more years we get to replace the other three council members. Finally then, I hope we’ll have some budget sanity, land use sanity, and start to solve our traffic problems this current council has created.
Remember just a couple months ago our City Council wanted to sue you, the citizens, if we said something they didn’t like. They are counting on you forgetting. I hope council doesn’t sue me for writing this.
Eric Imker
Peachtree City, Ga.

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