Virus-reduced budget proposal adds up to job losses for Peachtree City workers

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Mayor Vanessa Fleisch speaks at the July 16 City Council meeting. Photo/Cal Beverly.
Mayor Vanessa Fleisch speaks at the July 16 City Council meeting. Photo/Cal Beverly.

The virus officially named “2019-nCoV” has left its mark on the upcoming Fiscal Year 2021 budget for Peachtree City, as well as some of its employees.

Weeks of economic disruption in response to Covid-19 mitigation efforts have resulted in lower tax revenues in coming months for local government. When less money comes in, something has to to be cut. In the case of Peachtree City, upwards of 12 full-time and 6 part-time job slots are part of those cuts.

For example, City Manager Jon Rorie takes on the title of acting city clerk at no extra pay, while the long-time city employee performing that job on an interim basis will be unemployed at the end of the month.

That job loss is part of $824,369 in what are known as “baseline personnel costs” in the budget summary presented in a public hearing before the City Council July 16. No one spoke for or against the proposed budget in a sparsely attended meeting where social distancing presented no challenges.

The City Council is expected to approve the proposed $38.56 million 2021 budget in mid-August. It will be funded by an expected revenue inflow of nearly a million dollars less than what the city plans to spend. It won’t be deficit spending because the missing money will be withdrawn from the city’s reserve fund piggy bank.

Rorie during the public hearing presented the budget to the council with an expected adoption before the end of August.

The basic budget math is this:

• Revenues are adjusted downward 3.4% due to the Covid-19 impact.

• Funded positions will be reduced by 12 full-time and 6 part-time.

• $824,369 reduction in baseline personnel costs.

• $187,874 increase (one-time) for unemployment and severance costs.

• $55,000 reduction in Senior Services costs (leased space reduced).

• 2.1% reduction in general fund departmental operating expenses ($874,000).

• Estimated $1 million use of cash reserves, which will reduce the piggy bank from its current 40% of yearly expenses down to 38%.

• No change in local tax millage rate.

In addition, Rorie said the city planned to go ahead with about $5.2 million in spending on major capital outlays:

• $435,000 for replacement of All Children’s Playground.

• $1.8 million for street resurfacing.

• $825,000 for fire engine and a type of firefighting apparatus called a brush truck.

• $720,000 for 12 new police vehicles to replace old units.

• $675,000 for technology replacements and software, including enhanced security against hacking.

• $350,000 for citywide facilities improvements, including bridges.

• $298,000 for Public Works equipment.

Most of those will be cash expenditures rather than loan proceeds, Rorie said.

On a future council’s plate — but not yet in any budget — are items like expansions of the facilities of the Police and Fire departments; interparcel access roads for MacDuff Crossings; increase of paving funds from $1.8 million to $3.5 million, without SPLOST funds; installing sewer service for Huddleston Road and the entrance to the city’s industrial park; and funding priorities for the Fayette County Development Authority.

That final item sparked a litany of complaints from council members about “getting more bank for the buck” for the $146,000 already going to the FCDA each year from Peachtree City.

Councilman Mike King called for the outright elimination of all city funding of the FCDA. Other members expressed their dissatisfaction with how few results they have seen from the authority headquartered in Fayetteville, including periodic communications.

Several said the authority needs to put more focus on serving current local businesses and industry. “We are their customer,” Mayor Vanessa Fleisch said, “and they haven’t provided good customer service.”

“If [the FCDA] is that important to the county, why don’t they fund their own damn office?” King asked, alluding to the fact that Peachtree City pays more of the FCDA funding than the Fayette County Commission does.

In the end, the council agreed to cut the funding back to under $100,000 pending seeing some changes in the authority.

In other action, the council approved the rezoning of a Rockaway Road parcel of under 1 acre to accommodate 30 residential townhome units directly across the road from Somerby of Peachtree City.

The 0.76 acre sliver was swapped by the city with the developer for a similar size parcel so the city could build a driveway from Rockaway Road to the lower activity fields in Meade Memorial Park.

3 COMMENTS

  1. What ever happened to the Glenloch parking lot paving project that was discussed last year, for 2020? It’s an eyesore compared to crazy amount of money spent on the pool and community garden side of the rec area.