Learnard shoves Peachtree City politics leftward

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The Vanessa Fleisch and Kim Learnard administrations ushered in the era of political debate of local governance based on political philosophy. Theirs is leaning socialist.

In an effort that would have made Sen. Bernie Sanders smile with glee, Mayor Learnard gave a fascinating State of the City address (https://thecitizen.com/2024/01/15/mayor-learnards-message-to-residents-she-will-push-for-annexation-and-affordable-housing/) and government planner Stephanie Wagner offered written back-up for Learnard in the form of a letter to the editor (https://thecitizen.com/2024/01/17/its-important-to-talk-about-affordable-housing/).

Many of us aware of local politics often laugh whenever Learnard claims she is a “conservative” in an attempt to quell the natives, knowing most have no idea what she does in office like raising your taxes continuously by not rolling back the millage rate when your home value increases while at the same time the city amassed a whopping 56.5 percent reserve fund.

Learnard declared 2023 a year of collaboration and success even though her supported candidates have lost in the last two elections, leaving her with four council colleagues who ran on platforms opposite the Plan for PTC and Learnard ideology.

Not to be deterred, Learnard said change is coming just like Fleisch before her. As you will recall, the Fleisch administration tried to upend the land planning and urbanize Peachtree City. Likewise, Learnard, using some votes from holdovers Mike King and Phil Prebor (now off the council), altered our land plans to accommodate that urbanization.

We are waiting for the revised 2024 city council to reverse those changes to our land planning made by the previous council.

Learnard used that patented fear tactic of saying the City of Fayetteville is rushing to our borders like the Mongols, bringing death and disaster. It’s just her way of fooling the citizens into allowing her to team up with the real estate developers, annex land, and create the destruction herself.

The city council in Fayetteville is facing an uprising from its citizens on reckless high-density growth.

The mayor pointed to the traffic heading through the intersection of State Routes 74 and 54. This is the same intersection glitch she is intentionally not moving to resolve, deciding instead to go with a “budget-constrained” displaced left turn project that has no impact on the grinding east-west traffic she noted.

Learnard is salivating over Huddleston Road with sewer capacity on the way. Yes, she wants to build that area up in a massive way and stick another dagger in the already poor traffic congestion problem on State Route 54 West.

Planner Wagner came in to back up Learnard on her affordable housing goals. This is where the ideology revolves around the annexations, Huddleston Road, and possible in-fill projects.

Learnard and Wagner are in the “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” mode, saying that everyone deserves to live in Peachtree City, even if they do not have the means to buy or rent here. Heaven forbid that someone has to live in Coweta, Fulton, or Spalding counties.

The government must force low-cost housing options into the community, according to Learnard and Wagner. It makes you wonder why they decided to move to Peachtree City and not somewhere else that met their utopian demands.

Of course, like socialist Sen. Sanders who has multiple estates and millions in the bank, Learnard never once increased the city’s low-income senior citizen homestead exemption to assist our elderly with remaining in their homes. Hypocrisy in government surprises no one.

Hopefully, Learnard and Wagner will sell their homes to low-income families at a greatly reduced price. That would set an excellent example.

Naturally, Learnard explained that her government should be your only source of information. She increased budgetary expenses for a city videographer, graphic designer, and web content. Her taxpayer-funded propaganda program “Mondays with the Mayor” is a steady stream of one-sided commentary. Both Learnard and Wagner believe any other source is conspiracy material.

It is time for the new council members to walk their talk and put a stop to the nonsense.

[Brown is a former mayor of Peachtree City and served two terms on the Fayette County Board of Commissioners. You can read all his columns by clicking on his photo below.]

11 COMMENTS

    • Defins – Indeed. We can see what progressives have in mind for Georgia and PTC by looking at what has already happened in California.

      Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that a judge ordered a moratorium on all home building and remodeling permits in the city of Beverly Hills for its failure to plan for affordable housing. “Judge tells Beverly Hills homeowners no housing improvements without more affordable housing”; Los Angeles Times 1/18/2024.

      It’s of no consequence to politicians that the city is completely built out. Or that ““We have intentionally created a desirable environment by deliberately avoiding overdevelopment and over-densification,” said Thomas White, chair of the Municipal League, a 60-year-old civic organization.

      We have created a desirable community in PTC. Let’s not California our city or state.

  1. Thank you Mr. Brown for the thought provoking letter. I often disagree with you, but I do enjoy some the discussions and comments that surface around your letters. I do wish our Honorable Mayor and City Council members will participate insome of these discussions and clarify some of the surfacing issues and how they perceive them.

    I have no issues with local politics other than the lack of what I think is needed dialog. Why do you? “Left leaning,” right leaning, a step here, a step there, it reminds me of growing my sea legs as a kid. It worked for me and kept me from falling on my face or into the water. I think it was Charles Spurgeon who oftentimes referred to our growth as being experiential.

    I also have no issues with “56.5 percent reserve fund.” In fact, I will like to see our reserve increase while we have the means to increase it; 66 to 100 percent is okay with me and I think 50 percent should be the minimum. It may not be the most financially efficient means of applying our tax dollars, but it certainly is prudent. Will it not be nice to see our Federal Government build a cash reserve? I can remember when we were financially stressed as the housing bubble burst. Right now, with the cost of money, “cash is king.”

    As to talking about affordable housing, I don’t think our Honorable Mayor initiated the topic. I think someone publicly inferred that of our Mayor. It made for a local political sensation and stirred things up a bit. As I stated earlier, I don’t believe our Honorable Mayor specifically said she supported affordable housing for Peachtree City. Did our mayor or Stephanie Wagner say, or state, “everyone deserves to live in Peachtree City?” I don’t think so. Maybe we should accept that everyone should have the opportunity to pursue living in Peachtree City. The logic is similar to our Constitution giving us the “right to the pursuit of happiness,” but not the right to be happy. Our society has a tendency to accept people creating rights that have never existed.

    I’m not opposed to further developing Huddleston Road. That doesn’t mean we make it residential, it should mean we increase the efficiency of its right of way. We can do a lot with Huddleston Road if we could just figure a way to prevent through traffic on Planterra Way. Not only Huddleston Road, but I will like to see municipal sewer service extended to all areas in Peachtree City that rely on septic systems, especially those located around our lakes and reservoirs.

    Mr. Brown, you made a good reference point with the “increased budgetary expenses for a city videographer, graphic designer, and web content.” Our Honorable Mayor did not make the budget increase, we did through our City Council. It’s not a bad tactic. The Peachtree City Development Corporation (PCDC) was incorporating a similar tactic when I moved to Peachtree City. They didn’t have the currently available technology then, but they did spend considerable money marketing Peachtree City to not only sell residential properties, but to actively pursue industrial development. I think most of us will say it was successful.

    The City has placed a significant effort and financial investment into information management. To most of us, it seems to contribute heavily toward marketing Peachtree City. As Peachtree City becomes more desirable place to live again (think redevelopment), many of us will enjoy increased home values. Many of us will also suffer the increased burdens of having to adapt to whatever our local government deems as progress.

    • Well thought out comments Doug.
      First, The city’s reserve: With the FY ’25 budget discussions only mere weeks away, Council will hear the ramifications of a substantial millage reduction, and I expect a less that a whole mill decrease will ultimately be approved by Council, keeping the reserve the reserve on or about 50 percent. The flexibility of a reserve this large will allow the significant gains in infrastructure maintenance to continue.
      Second, Huddleston Road sewerage: One must realize that most, if not all of this property is privately owned and zoned industrial which means that although the property owners can request a zoning change, Council must approve. The Mayor’s statement that she would push for affordable housing, it by no means a done deal nor is it an ideal upgrade for this location. Think redevelopment of certain commercial properties that could use a facelift.
      Third, bringing 21st century automation to market our city: The Mayor ran on doing just this. Our town is simply a great place to raise kids which many of us have experienced over the years. Our amenities continue to attract all age groups.
      It’s a shame our former Mayor didn’t experience such success during his term.

      • Mr King – To your first point about PTC’s large reserve (aka “rainy day fund”), I disagree. This is way too much of our money sitting in a city account, when it could still be in our bank accounts.

        The Government Finance Officers’ Association (GFOA) recommends a minimum of 16.7% (two months) of regular city operating expenditures “to prevent severe service cuts, tax hikes or to address unforeseen contingency situations”, and above 16.7% if the city is unable to plan for contingencies or the revenue base is unstable. Civicfed.org “How Much Fund Balance is Too Much? Not Enough? Just Right?” 12/9/09

        The GFOA expressly cautions against holding 50% or more as excessive. Instead, it should move to longer term investments, retire debt or “adjust income streams” ie allow taxpayers to keep their own money.

        PTC should be able to plan for most contingencies in the budgeting process and our tax revenue base is stable, so why should PTC be anywhere close to 50%?

        PS – The Mayor might consider that a large part of housing “affordability” is the tax burden on its current residents.

        • Bill, thanks for the note and your rationale. Just so you know, it was not that long ago that Peachtree City Peachtree City was borrowing just to maintain it’s infrastructure and the city was described as a “place that folks used to care about’. It was a concerted effort to raise the reserve to 50% and less than a year ago PTC actually entered into a facilities bond for the simple reason that the interest on the loan was less than the interest made on the reserve.
          Further, I would rather have ready funds in the event of a natural disaster such as Newnan’s relatively recent tornado.
          Lastly, could it be that the GFOA may thinks like bankers?

          • Mike – I appreciate the response, and a bit of the city’s financial history. Kudos to those who turned things around so PTC is not in debt trouble.

            We’re presently at the other end of the financial spectrum now with 50%+ of annual operations spending sitting idle, when a lower amount is still fiscally responsible. Holding an excessive reserve in a bank account because we might someday have a natural disaster seems way overdone to me.

            Let’s hope this next budget brings robust community input and council debate on what the right spending and reserve is for PTC.

  2. Great article! Thank you for exposing the agenda coming from 151 Willowbend Road.
    What is sad that  Stephanie Wagner a Peachtree City Home Owner does not identify herself as  regional city planner  employed  with  the “3 Rivers Regional Government ” 

    Three Rivers Regional Commission
    is a 10-county regional planning commission that includes the West Central Georgia area counties of Butts, Carroll, Coweta, Heard, Lamar, Meriwether, Pike, Spalding, Troup and Upson. Each of these counties in the West Central Georgia region benefit from the services provided by Three Rivers Regional Commission which include aging services and workforce development.

    Keep it up Steve!