Eric Imker: Why I am running for mayor

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Peachtree City has been my home for 18 years. Together we’ll address our traffic issues, stop taxing residents out of their homes, and protect our village concept. Let’s not burst the Peachtree City bubble.

I am an engineer and computer scientist but most importantly I am a professional program manager. Being popular is not a qualification for being mayor. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist either, but I have worked on the Space Shuttle.

I’m a twice elected former City Council member. I’ve led successful multi-million dollar projects with the Air Force, Star Wars, NASA, GM and even Panasonic here in town. Having supervised hundreds of people gives me unique qualifications to set the course for our city.

Most importantly though, I know the citizens. I actually get out there and talk with them at various venues around the city. Hence the 50+ meet and greet campaign stops over the last two months. I encourage questions. I enjoy interacting with citizens. But it won’t end there.

Unlike other politicians who only come out during election season, I will continue to hold meet and greets throughout my four years as mayor. I will encourage HOAs to invite me to their meetings so I can hear firsthand what is on the citizens’ minds. I will continue to make myself available for chats all around the city with hopefully weekly opportunities at various locations.

Things we need to do include returning authority back to our Planning Commission the way it was before city council so unwisely neutered it. The Planning Commission must have the power to hold public hearings so that developers cannot simply bypass our most experienced citizens who know our zoning and planning rules much better than any city council member.

STOP rezoning industrial to residential. We have enough residential. Residential costs the city money by way of supplying police, fire, first responder, road and cart path maintenance, recreation and all the other amenities we offer our citizens. The taxes from residential fall well short of paying for all that.

Every council member knows this yet they have been on a tear rezoning everything to residential everywhere you look. Industry brings new money and new jobs into Peachtree City. Industry is obviously a financial gain, thereby allowing us to potentially lower our millage rate.

We need to stop destroying the wildlife and clear cutting forests to build more commercial and apartments we don’t need. If you want to live on top of somebody there is a city 20 miles north of us that’s just what you’re looking for. Protect our village concept. Keep and expand green spaces. Return village signs to roads leading into those villages. Make our city sophisticated again.

Our millage rate is simply not competitive to other cities. City council raised taxes each of the last three years. Sure, they were small amounts but it sends the wrong message to industry. Industry sees how easily taxes are raised here, they see how high our rates are and choose to go elsewhere. I would.

Of course, this year being an election year the council decided not to raise taxes. How predictable! Last year we had a budget of $40 million. It was known well before this last summer our revenue would be about $6.5 million MORE than anticipated. Yet the city council was unable to lower our millage rate.

This is extremely disturbing. It shows a clear lack of awareness. We have plenty of money now to pay for employee raises, lower our stormwater bills and still have enough to lower our taxes. Anyone who says we can’t afford a tax cut is simply a defeatist.

Lack of policies on any traffic improvement over the last 8 years has been hard to watch. We were promised, by certain council members now running for mayor, that this issue would be addressed. The result has unfortunately been less than desired. There are ways to make improvement but it seems only during election time does this become a concern for sitting council members. That stops now. Traffic improvement solutions will be a major and continuous city council concern.

Golf cart path safety also seems to only be a concern during election season. I’m glad we finally have a committee looking into it now.

Another major discontent is the lack of ability to understand project management and how to control costs. Way too many projects have drastically overrun their budgeted costs. I could list six of them right now, costing us millions and millions in overruns, but that is better left for another letter. You don’t know about this because the city council doesn’t want you to know.

I have done literally dozens of open records requests to find out the true story. It is not a pretty picture. Indeed, it is outright disastrous. I will be the most transparent mayor and lead the next city council into being the most transparent this city has ever seen. I have nothing to hide and I want the citizens to know both the good and the bad of what’s happening. It’s your money. You deserve to know exactly how it’s being spent.

SPLOST projects will become a routine agenda item at every council meeting. SPLOST (the 1% extra sales tax) is equivalent to one-fourth of the entire city annual budget. You need to know if your $10 million a year is being spent wisely. I will ensure you know.

Clearly the city council knows its role is setting policy. But we need to be better at instilling discipline into the other part of the role. That is oversight. We have lost control, financially, of way too many projects due to lack of program management skills on city council.

I have the absolute 100% most experience in managing people and projects with successful results of bringing those projects in on time AND on budget.

Over the last few years the city council has let millions of dollars slip down the preverbal rabbit hole. Honestly, it irks me seeing this happen because in 2010, when I first got on council, we were scraping and begging for every dollar. Nowadays it seems throwing a hundred thousand dollars here and there means nothing. This must stop so we can properly deliver services with our precious citizens’ tax money.

I will listen to all sides of an issue and encourage my fellow council members to do the same. Making time at council meetings to hear our citizens’ comments is important. The two-minute time limit for citizen comment is an insult to our citizens. I will simply ask them not to repeat themselves or others and be respectful.

National pride is an important value I want to inspire in everyone. I realize we are a small community but we are part of the United States. Over the last several years we’ve seen our mainstream news media, Hollywood types, educational types and high tech internet social media including search engines attempt to manipulate and socialize not just our younger generation but everyone. (I generalized here and recognize, “Not all.”)

How can the citizens of Peachtree City support a candidate that supports organizations that want to burn the American flag, defund the police and think rioting, burning and looting is justified for social equality?

I hope this is a generational cyclic occurrence like we’ve had in the past. I’m concerned we may be going over the edge and will lose our country. Pray for us for we have been given the greatest nation ever to exist on the planet. There’s a reason millions of people come north instead of going south to Venezuela to the socialistic h*ll hole they’ve created for themselves down there. People want our freedom, opportunities and justice for all. We have been blessed with all of this as United States citizens. Let’s not lose it.

Some more thoughts on traffic and protecting our village concept.

Traffic during rush hours at Ga. highways 54/74 is horrendous. You have 15-20 light cycle waits with backups down to Lake Peachtree. The problem is the five traffic lights west of that intersection.

Beginning with the light at the Avenue, when it turns red for westbound Hwy. 54 traffic, everything stops. I see it, you see it, how come the city council doesn’t see it? They’ve done literally nothing in the last 8 years to address the problem.

In fact, two of my opponents were on city council with me in 2014 and voted to make things worse by approving yet another light between Walmart and MacDuff Parkway. GDOT sent us a letter saying don’t do it because it will make matters worse. Yet these council members voted to do it, inserting their idea of government prowess into private business decisions.

No! It is not the government’s job to pick winners and losers. Government’s job is to provide a fair playing field for businesses to make their own choices. Adding that additional traffic light allowed the developer to walk away with millions extra while we got worse traffic issues to deal with.

This total waste of spending $12 million on a crazy crossover lane change idea on north/south Hwy. 74 will do nothing to solve the east/west Hwy. 54 problem. Address the Hwy. 54 problem and you don’t get the Hwy. 74 issues.

Stop allowing traffic to turn right on red from Hwy. 74 onto Hwy. 54. Then, only during rush hour, keep the Avenue light green for Hwy. 54. Get that traffic moving and you reduce the blocking the block issues.

Sure, you inconvenience a few dozen folks coming out of the Avenue but they can go around. You make it so thousands of Peachtree City citizens who won’t go out on Hwy. 54 during rush hour can enjoy our own roads again.

There are many other plans we can implement to improve traffic. Solve it, no, but we can improve it. Of course, the long-term solution is a northern bypass between PTC and Tyrone. I have talked to the Coweta County Commissioner of the area bordering PTC and we agree a long-term solution of a bypass is needed.

Protecting our village concept includes NO to more dense-pack housing, apartments, etc. Like I said, if you want to live on top of somebody else, there’s a city 20 miles north of Peachtree City that has what you’re looking for.

We need to stop rezoning all our industrial land to residential. Again, these same two opponents of mine now (who voted for the additional traffic light on Hwy. 54) voted to rezone 86 acres of industrial land to dense pack residential along a railroad track. Good grief. What were they thinking? They weren’t.

I said, it’s perfect for 6 to 8 small industrial plots with perhaps 50-100 employees each. This would bring new jobs and new money into the city. The famous MacDuff bridge over the railroad track included a curb cut to allow a service road to go down along the railroad track to service those small industries. Those industries would never have been seen from MacDuff Parkway because all the trees would still be there. Trucks would never be on MacDuff because they’d shoot out to Hwy. 74. Instead, we got a clear cut of 86 acres of trees thanks to that vote.

Remember, when my opponents say protect the village concept, they voted the opposite.

When my opponents say traffic solutions, they voted the opposite.

There are other clear differences between me and my opponents. I have the experience of working and directing people in both large and small organizations. I have worked with dozens of Ph.D. scientists on the real Star Wars effort ($1 billion+) to leading Boy Scouts for eight years. I have the breadth of experience no one else has. I have advanced degrees in Engineering, Computer Systems and Program Management. No else can say anything close.

I have the proven financial expertise that helped bring Peachtree City from a $22 million deficit in 2010 to a balanced budget in 2015. That is why I voluntarily did not run for another term for city council though I was eligible to run. I stepped down saying I accomplished what I set out to do, i.e., bring our city back to a financially sound ground.

Tough choices had to be made and I made them. No one else in recent memory has voluntarily stepped down as a council member. They all seem to want to be career politicians for 8 years as a council member then 8 more years as Mayor. This is wrong. They need to step aside, like I did, and allow others to have the privilege and honor of being a council member.

I am most curious as to all the lawsuits the city is currently facing. Nobody knows. I guess I’ll have to do more open records requests.

I arrived in Peachtree City in 2003 and worked at Panasonic until 2007. Since then, I have been involved with our community in various ways. They include:

Peachtree City Recreation Commissioner, 2008-2009

Elected twice as City Council member, 2009 (2 years) & 2011 (4 years)

Master Mason in Peachtree City since 2012

Peachtree City Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Graduate, 2016

Renewed CPR Certification, 2016

Georgia Sheriffs Association Honorary Member since 2017

Worthy Patron, Eastern Star since 2019

Fayette County Humane Society Foster Cat Inspector (2019-2020)

American Legion Post #50, Peachtree City, GA since 2019

Director, Peachtree City Monopoly Tournament since 2009 (Over $20,000 cash and prizes given away – no entry fee!)

Director, Peachtree City Golf Cart Scavenger Hunt since 2020 ($1,000 cash given away – no entry fee!)

Donations to Masonic Children’s Home

Donations to Church, Boy Scouts, Rainbow Girls, DeMolay Boys

Facebook People in Need of Donations

Stop Smoking Intervention Donations

Clothes Less Traveled & Goodwill Donations

I am not running for the salary. Instead, I will donate the salary over four years as mayor of $86,400 back to the city. I also do not accept campaign contributions. I consider holding the mayor’s job to be a privilege. I’d rather give back to the city rather than take away from it.

I will always have the best interests of the citizens in mind. My only financial interest in Peachtree City is my home. This leads to the point that I am not beholden to anyone nor any business nor any developer, nor any political party.

Remember my opponents’ funding sources for their campaigns and ask yourself, will their decisions be in the best interest of Peachtree City? My decisions as mayor will ensure our community is the best place to live in the country.

Eric Imker

Candidate for mayor

Peachtree City, Ga.

12 COMMENTS

  1. I would like to specifically address two points in Mr. Imker’s letter: “Our millage rate is simply not competitive to other cities. City council raised taxes each of the last three years.” Folks, go and look at your property tax bills. I looked at mine (see below), and it is just not true that taxes were raised for the last three years. Mr. Imker pledges a 0.5 millage rate reduction. That would take my property tax to PTC this year from $854 to $783, a reduction of 8% or $71, but mirrored across everyone in Peachtree City, what do we give up? Current reserves (our rainy day fund) allow Peachtree City to operate for six months with no tax revenue. State-mandated minimums take us to four months or so. Given the Great Recession and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic, a six-month rainy day fund is a good idea. Plus, if an emergency expense comes up the city doesn’t have to borrow money and pay interest on it.

    As for our rate not being competitive, Fayette County created a presentation comparing property taxes in 2019 on a $250,000 home value. Of course the amount for the BOE and County M&O is the same so the only difference would be the taxes to the municipality. Fayetteville: $2,966, Tyrone: $2,996, and Peachtree City: $2,979- right in the middle, but no more than $30 total difference, about 1%. Different councils, different challenges, but similar taxes. Municipalities that border Peachtree City are much better comparisons than the north side of Atlanta. Comparisons need to be apples to apples: Tyrone pays EMS and Fire District separate from their city millage so the city millage would seem small compared to PTC because we have EMS and Fire included in our municipal millage.
    Gross millage from 2018 to 2021
    9.533
    9.293
    9.326
    9.175
    Sales Tax Credit from 2019 to 2021
    -3.391
    -3.061
    -3.094
    -3.132
    Net Millage Rate from 2019 to 2021
    6.142
    6.232
    6.232
    6.043
    Net Payment to PTC: what really matters, no more than about $40 any direction.
    $861.51
    $849.54
    $890.18
    $853.52

    • The millage rate is a false argument. You have to go by the tax bills. The millage rate goes down but our tax bills go up every year. You claimed this before and I refuted you. Stormwater is not part of your tax bill, but the city is still charging you. SPLOST is not part of the tax bill that but you are still paying $200 or more a year. Golf cart license is not part of your tax bill, but if you own a cart you are still paying. Rec fees are not part of your tax bill, but if using you are still paying. So your argument does not hold water.

      So yes, he is making false claims, but so are you and Kim Learnard.

      • Don, hi! Please look at the net bill lines. My taxes went down from 2018 to 2019 ($862 to $850) and from 2020 to 2021 ($890 to $854). My stormwater bill has been a constant $56.22 twice a year since 2018 and has not increased. Not a false claim.

        SPLOST is variable based on spending on items that are taxed so the idea that council increased that tax is ludicrous. Yes, as inflation goes up, our taxable spend might go up, but I would argue a particularly expensive purchase or a major life event (e.g. a child leaving home reducing the grocery bill) can have more of an impact on overall sales tax we pay in a year. Plus at $200 per year, I’m not going to get worked up about it.

        Let’s say, all in, the taxes I pay to PTC are $1,200. It’s a bargain- paved roads, paved cart paths, beautiful city facilities, top notch public safety, home values that appreciate, great businesses and restaurants that come here. My annual water bill and phone bill are both higher than $1,200. If Mr. Imker or you get elected and cut taxes, I’m just asking the question: for a truly nominal tax reduction (let’s say $70), what service is going to get cut? For a year or so you can let the reserve float down; then what gets cut? Path maintenance, recreation, fewer police or less well-paid police than comparable municipalities? Does the city stop funding long-term maintenance again and we’re scrambling to fund it when something big breaks?

      • Stormwater – $77 a year – wow, big deal.
        SPLOST – you estimate the average citizen spends $20k in PTC a year. Possible, but on the high side. We are a family of three and don’t generally approach that much in a year. It’s also a moot point. Most counties have SPLOST, so if you’re not buying it here, you’re buying it somewhere else. Further, you need robust retail for it to become effective – counterintuitive to what you want. Besides the necessities, we buy many items outside of PTC and outside of the county. This has to do with access and variety first, and price second.
        Golf Cart registration – $15 a year. Big friggin deal. Golf cart paths are a luxury that other locales do not have and their installation and maintenance is not free.
        Recreation Fees – Necessary and important. Vital to a robust, thriving city – especially a city such as ours. If you want to model a city with a first-class recreation department, study the City of Roswell’s. They are the Gold Medal standard. Taxpayer backed and user-funded enhanced. It’s become one of the major attractions for living in Roswell, which further increases property values. And, as I mentioned before, virtually every rec department requires user fees. You have to pay to play and people are willing to do so if there’s value in where they spend their money.

        So, to recap. Your examples are weak as most every other city has these fees – with the exception of golf cart registration (and you can still use the paths without a golf cart). Obviously, the cost of those fees varies. PTC’s certainly are not out of line. In your defense, I have often wondered why there needs to be separate billing for storm water. Just include it in our real estate taxes.

  2. I respectfully disagree. Entirely. Eric has consistently proven himself to be one of the most abrasive, condescending voices in this community – and letting someone like that lord over Peachtree City is a recipe for disaster. He’s entirely out of touch with the challenges of families, and doesn’t really even make the effort to relate.

    He doesn’t seek consensus with those who have even slightly different views. He doesn’t show up to events unless they’re entirely on his terms. The professional experience is decent and seemingly impressive, until you realize Panasonic has an entire division of people with almost exactly similar skills. Right down the street from you. And most are pretty friendly in comparison.

    We need a leader who will represent all of our citizens – not just the ones that will kiss the ring.

  3. Okay, I’m sorry, but why does renewing your CPR certification in 2016 make me want to vote for you? And same with smoking cessation and giving stuff to Goodwill or Clothes Less Traveled? That’s nice and all, but virtually everyone does that at one time or another. What the heck?

  4. Interesting Imker derides “educational and technology” types while boasting of his own accomplishments in each.

    Also of interest is his rightful condemnation of rioting and failure to support the police. However, one must wonder if Mr Imker, who has donated well over $1000 to Trump and related entities (see FEC records) intends that condemnation for those who rioted, looted, and attacked police on Jan 6th.

  5. I am the only mayoral candidate that actually has a workable traffic plan. Reworking the intersection does nothing to alleviate traffic congestion on 54. A number of the lights are there by signed agreement with developers, so the city can’t touch them. DOT controls traffic lights, the best the city can do is ask permission. DOT will never stop turn lights on 54 because it simply forces traffic into residential areas seeking other ways to get to their destinations.

    What will work is to make the median strip fifth Lane and install a reversible traffic light system. 3 to 4 lanes to handle rush-hour traffic.

    As for industry, just ceasing to rezone industrial property solves nothing. State law requires a development authority to recruit companies and offer incentives. That ceased for us when two of my opponents were among those voting to dissolve our development authority. Instead of $35,000 a year for our authority they went to $149,000 a year to the county development authority who has done nothing for us. But they do not want to talk about that.

    Here is my list of agenda items for the city:

    Include in the agenda who is responsible for the agenda item.
    Reinstate planning commission to exactly how it was.
    Remove city employees and elected from CVB.
    WASA -tweak the charter and restore a volunteer board .
    Reinstate the city development authority with tweaks as needed.
    Restore the old annexation process.
    Require annexation to have a provable value to the city.
    Reinstate the moratorium on multifamily.
    Review all changes to to ordinances.
    Contact GDOT about reversible lanes.
    Resolve the issues concerning public safety, including hiring additional police.
    Add US flags to golf cart bridges.
    Restore village monuments.
    Set city priorities on taxing and spending.
    Eliminate wasteful spending.
    Adopt more efficient services.
    Abide by the city charter and land use plan.
    Research adding electrical generators to the spillway.

    Peachtree city is not a resort. It is a city of homes and families. We need jobs to retain our youth. That does not mean solving all issues by raising taxes.