Peachtree City plans more spending in new budget

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It’s that time of year when our local governments have to create the annual budget for the next fiscal year. Lately, in Peachtree City, it has been “full speed ahead” (or maybe “full spend ahead”) on the tax increases. It appears we can expect more of the same.

Mayor Kim Learnard, in her three years of service, has seen three different city managers, not a confidence builder. Currently, Interim City Manager Justin Strickland is at the helm, tasked with presenting the budget for fiscal year 2025.

When I sent eight interview questions to both Strickland and Council Member Suzanne Brown about the current budget process, it became clear that their perspectives and roles in the process are quite different.

Council Member Brown’s responses to the interview questions can be found here: https://thecitizen.com/2024/06/21/council-member-brown-sees-no-move-toward-cutting-expenses-or-taxes-for-peachtree-city/. She is forthright in her dissatisfaction with the process, demonstrating a commitment to more openness and analysis.

Public relations on the budget

Understandably, Strickland is in a paid staff position, so he must defend the government spending, budgeting, and policies of the elected city council members. His answers tend to be long-winded, oftentimes sidestepping a question or two.

Some answers lack context, like providing a list showing a reduction in millage rates but not explaining why the taxes continued to increase (fluctuation in property values). He also off-loads on the county’s tax assessor related to increased taxes but it’s the city council who decides upon the rate of taxation.

Strickland says the recent act to “raise employee pay was intentional and strategic.” I thought it was handled haphazardly. He has added a cost-of-living increase for fiscal year 2025 in addition to the recent full-staff pay, bonus, and pension increases.

Strickland is big on the public relations bandwagon with the constant use of the phrase “Uncompromised Excellence.” Yes, he capitalizes both words for effect. Some might consider him a fall guy for the elected officials’ continued tax increases. Others might say he is leading the movement.

To me, Strickland provides every reason possible to keep adding employees, expenses, and taxes with little empathy for the plight of the taxpayers. Let the readers decide.

The last budget dog and pony show is Thursday, July 11, at City Hall. As I wrote in a column a few weeks ago, another tax increase seems inevitable, taxpayers have to take a backseat, and I describe that other future large increases are probably on the way (see: https://thecitizen.com/2024/06/24/uncompromised-council-to-slap-you-with-another-big-tax-increase/).

Budget interview with Interim City Manager Justin Strickland

BROWN: Spending is at an all-time high, and city taxation is also at an all-time high. Has the city government done anything to cut expenses? If yes, what?

STRICKLAND: Firstly, I would like to share some background on my own experience in local government management, finance, and budgeting. I am a Certified Local Government Finance Officer and have received a Distinguished Budget Preparation Award from the Georgia Finance Officer Association (GFOA). I have had the pleasure of creating budgets for four different government organizations in Georgia. Prior to joining Peachtree City, I worked in the City of Commerce, the City of Savannah, and Marion County.

Regarding your questions, it is important to recognize that the city is not immune to the same inflationary pressures that our residents face. Just as consumers are paying more for everyday items like eggs and milk than they did a decade or two ago, the city now incurs higher costs for paving roads, maintaining vehicles, purchasing supplies, installing paths, and providing all our services.

When historical spending is properly adjusted for inflation, it becomes clear that we are doing more with less compared to two decades ago. To elaborate, in fiscal year 2002, the total budget was approximately $29.5 million. In the current fiscal year 2024, our budget, including the capital improvement plan, is $51.4 million. This represents a 74.24% increase over 22 years. While this may seem significant, it aligns closely with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) change over the same period, which is 74.68%. Essentially, our budget growth has kept pace with inflation, meaning that $51.4 million today holds a little less value than $29.5 million did 22 years ago.

This link provides access to a graph illustrating the CPI (https://peachtree-city.org/ImageRepository/Document?documentID=25460) since 2000, providing a visual reference for these inflationary trends: Consumer Price Index (CPI) Trend 2000-2024 (All Items in the U.S. Average, Seasonally Adjusted)

Notes on the link:

— CPI has increased by approximately 22% from 2020 to 2024 (4 years), which is about the same percentage growth (24%) from 2007-2019 (12 years)

— $1.00 today has the same buying power as $.82 in 2020, just five years.

Over the past 22 years, our population has also grown by 24.25%. This growth means that, in addition to maintaining the value of our General Fund Budget in line with inflation, we are also efficiently stretching those dollars to serve a population that is nearly 25% larger than it was 22 years ago. To view the full June 18, 2024, Manager’s proposed budget presentation, please visit https://www.peachtree-city.org/1431/General-Budget-Information.

In other words, not only have we managed to keep our budget aligned with inflation, but we have also expanded our services to accommodate significant population growth. This demonstrates our commitment to maximizing the value of every dollar.

The city’s vision statement is “Uncompromised Excellence”, so at Peachtree City, maintaining high service levels is paramount. It’s a delicate balance to deliver consistent or enhanced services to our residents while ensuring financial efficiency

However, I firmly believe that Peachtree City exemplifies that expectation for unparalleled service delivery within its budget — an achievement rarely seen in local government which is why Peachtree City stands out against other cities. Our organization operates like a well-oiled machine, staffed with top-tier professionals whose dedication and expertise permeate every level. The quality of our services is a testament to the genuine care our employees have for their roles and the citizens they serve.

Since my tenure began, we have prioritized restoring pre-COVID service levels, while avoiding significant budget cuts. This commitment aligns with our citizens’ high expectations and our city’s vision of Uncompromised Excellence. I have consistently emphasized that compromising our service levels would fundamentally alter Peachtree City’s identity, a risk directly linked to our budget management practices.

Our budgeting philosophy is zero-based, meaning every expenditure is scrutinized annually, regardless of previous funding.

Our finance team, department directors, and I diligently manage contracts and purchasing, ensuring competitive bidding and multiple quotes for expenditures.

Since we are a service-oriented organization, personnel costs remain our largest expense, as the quality of services we provide hinges on our workforce, including police officers, firefighters, librarians, groundskeepers, and equipment operators. Over the past five years, personnel costs have risen significantly.

The City Council’s objective is to pay our employees at the 85th percentile within the market, a goal we have achieved and will maintain, reflecting our commitment to Uncompromised Excellence. We strive to recruit and retain the best talent as an employer of choice, ensuring they dedicate their careers to Peachtree City. The principle, “you get what you pay for,” holds true across all levels of local government.

The pre-2023 pay plan market percentile graphic can be viewed here: https://peachtree-city.org/ImageRepository/Document?documentID=25462.

Pre-2023 Pay Plan Market Percentile — Average by Department

Police — 48%

Planning — 51%

Human Resources — 67%

Fire — 69%

Public Works — 70%

Finance — 72%

Recreation — 77%

Administration — 80%

Library – 92%

Post-2023 Pay Plan Market Percentile — Average by Department

Police — 87%

Planning — 89%

Human Resources — 89%

Fire — 94%

Public Works — 92%

Finance — 89%

Recreation — 92%

Administration — 91%

Library — 92%

The pay plan approved by the City Council in 2023 was transformative. We faced a critical shortage in our Police and Fire Departments, with a 15% workforce deficit and no applications, despite offering hiring incentives such as sign-on bonuses. I am pleased to report that as of today, our Police and Fire Departments have no vacancies. The post 2023 pay plan market percentile graphic can be viewed here: https://peachtree-city.org/ImageRepository/Document?documentID=25463.

Peachtree City’s commitment to Uncompromised Excellence drives every decision we make, ensuring that we continue to deliver exceptional services to our residents while maintaining fiscal responsibility.

BROWN: Have the levels of city services increased with the consistent increases in city taxes? If so, can you provide some examples?

STRICKLAND: Property taxes are determined by multiplying the millage rate by the assessed value of a property. The assessed value is typically a percentage of the property’s market value as determined by the local tax assessor.

A detailed video (https://youtu.be/An4XJqt7OLA?si=HIB—odDiQrp2Sh4) and information regarding millage are available by visiting https://www.peachtree-city.org/1427/Property-Tax-Information.

Over the last 12 years, the Mayor and Council have voted to decrease the millage rate from 7.178 in 2012 to 6.043 in 2023.

For this upcoming budget, I have recommended the council further reduce the rate to 5.983 for 2024. If approved, this reduction since 2012 represents an amount per year not being received by the City of $4,370,879 and an average savings to residents of $243.17 per year, based on a property value of $508,732. These savings have been significant for our residents over the past twelve years. (see here for graphic https://peachtree-city.org/ImageRepository/Document?documentID=25461)

12-Year Millage Rate History

2012 – 7.178

2013 – 7.088

2014 – 7.088

2015 – 7.070

2016 – 7.065

2017 – 6.505

2018 – 6.408

2019 – 6.232

2020 – 6.232

2021 – 6.043

2022 – 6.043

2023 – 6.043

2024 – 5.983 (Proposed FY-2025)

Equates to a 1.195 Mill reduction over the past 12 years.

Just over the past three years, city services have not only remained consistent but have significantly increased, leading to greater efficiencies and enhanced services for stakeholders. Here are some examples of improvements made since 2021:

Police Department:

• Added a Crime Suppression Unit.

• Enhanced crime prevention and investigation capabilities.

• Increased public engagement, hosting over 400 events per year.

Fire Department:

• Enhanced training for all personnel.

• Boosted communication and community outreach, with 100 events per year.

• Upgraded emergency response equipment.

• mproved inspection levels and times for the Fire Marshal.

Public Works and Infrastructure:

• Reduced the mowing cycle for rights-of-way on major highways and roads to one week.

• Reduced the cycle for maintaining landscape beds.

• Raised maintenance thresholds as infrastructure ages.

• Added a new public shredding event for residents to safely destroy confidential documents.

Employee Development:

• Implemented the 2023 pay plan, raising employee levels, which directly correlates to service quality.

Public Communications:

• Created a Public Communications department, winning multiple awards since 2022.

• Established a GIS department, increasing efficiency in public-facing services.

• Roads and Signage:

• Formed a Streets department to handle road and signage work, excluding the annual paving contract.

Library Services:

• Expanded library hours to better serve the community.

Code Enforcement:

• Increased patrols to ensure community standards.

Recreational Services:

• Extended Glenloch pool hours during summer.

• Added new pickleball courts, enhanced our disc golf course, and replaced our running track.

• Began laser-grading baseball and softball fields.

• Offered night play at athletic facilities with card swipe machines for lights.

• Launched the Sunset Sounds summer concert series.

Technology and Public Outreach:

• Improved technology infrastructure citywide.

• Introduced public outreach programs like PTC101, Slice of the City, and the Summer Intern Program.

• Launched and maintained the city path system navigation app, NavigatePTC, for iPhone and Android users.

Looking ahead, we are planning to expand services further with the addition of Station 85 on the south side of the city and exploring the feasibility of taking over our own 911 operations.

These enhancements reflect our commitment to maintaining and improving the quality of life for Peachtree City residents while managing our resources responsibly.

BROWN: Is there any motivation from the city council to roll back the millage rate to prevent a tax increase for fiscal year 2025?

STRICKLAND: While I cannot speak for the City Council members, in the city manager’s proposed budget, I am recommending a reduction in the millage rate by 0.06 mills for the FY25 budget. For a homeowner’s whose property value is $508,000, the amount due to Peachtree City would be $1,217.50, with a total property tax bill of $6,161.15 (including Fayette County M&O, Fayette County E911, BOE M&O, and BOE Bond).

Using 2024 millage rate numbers, it is best illustrated in the graphic provided here (https://peachtree-city.org/ImageRepository/Document?documentID=25464) or broken down as on a property of $508,732:

$6,173.36 (Total property taxes)

• $4,080.03 (66.1%) BOE M&O, and BOE Bond

• $863.62 (14%) County M&O and County E911

• $1,17.50 (19.9%) Peachtree City M&O (The only amount that comes to PTC from your property taxes)

To put this into perspective, for a property of the same value in Tyrone or Fayetteville, the total taxes due would be $6,258.01 and $6,194.32, respectively.

In unincorporated Fayette County, the total tax bill would be $5,670.12. If a resident of unincorporated Fayette registered a golf cart in Peachtree City, their total burden would be $5,905.12. A visual comparative can be viewed by clicking here (https://peachtree city.org/ImageRepository/Document?documentID=25465).

Utilizing the 2024 millage rates again, as well as the average home value in Peachtree City of $508,732 the breakdown of property taxes from city to city would be:

Tyrone – $6,258.01

Fayetteville – $6,194.32

Peachtree City – $6,161.15

Brooks – $5,915.74

Fayette County or Woosley – $5,670.12

Hypothetically, if you were living in unincorporated Fayette County, and had a registered golf cart for Peachtree City paths, and were then annexed into Peachtree City, your tax bill would increase by approximately $256.03, or about $0.70 per day.

For a breakdown, if unincorporated residential property was annexed into Peachtree City,

PTC $1,217.50

County Fire (-$624.72)

County EMS (-$101.75)

Cart Fee (-$235.00)

= Difference of $256.03

This small increase would provide access to a range of services that are unique to Peachtree City and not available in unincorporated Fayette County, Fayetteville, or Tyrone. Some of these services include:

• Premier EMS Services & ISO 1 Fire Department, which saving residents’ money on their insurance rates

• CALEA Advanced Certification Police Department, consistently ranked among the safest places to live in the U.S.

• Public Library with the second highest circulation in the PINES system of Georgia

• 100+ miles of multi-use paths

• Neighborhood entrance and median maintenance (signs and landscaping)

Peachtree City plans more spending in new budget Year-round aquatic center and high-caliber park facilities

Peachtree City plans more spending in new budget.  It’s also important to highlight that the revenue Peachtree City receives from property taxes annually does not cover the full cost of operating our two most critical departments — Police and Fire/EMS.

We project to receive $22.9 million in property taxes for FY25, while the expenses for Police and Fire/EMS alone are projected to be $26.6 million. Most of this expense, $22.8 million, is attributed to personnel who staff these departments 24/7/365. Essentially, the revenue from property taxes only covers the cost of personnel for Police and Fire/EMS, leaving other city services and operations dependent on additional funding sources such as our Local Option Sales Tax. We also make sure to seek and pursue any grant opportunities that we qualify for.

BROWN: Is the city government adding any new staff positions in the fiscal year 2025?

STRICKLAND: For FY25, we are proposing the addition of seventeen new positions (cutting some part-time positions), ten of which will be in the public safety divisions of Police and Fire/EMS, all aimed at enhancing our current service levels.

School Resource Officers (SROs): Six new SRO positions will be created to assign an officer to each elementary school within Peachtree City. This initiative has been discussed and requested by the Board of Education (BOE) for several years. The BOE has agreed to reimburse the city for 83% of the SROs’ salaries in the first year, covering the full school year, and for the costs of their vehicles, uniforms, computers, etc. After the first year, the reimbursement will revert to 50% of their salaries.

The BOE has expressed willingness to renegotiate this agreement to incrementally increase their contribution, and we will pursue this discussion. This is pertinent to the safety of our children as we currently only have one SRO who covers all the elementary schools in the city.

Firefighter/EMT/Paramedics: Three new positions are proposed to start staffing Fire Station 85, which will be constructed on the south side of the city using SPLOST 2023 funds.

Ultimately, nine additional firefighter/EMT/paramedics will be needed to fully staff this station. This initiative supports maintaining our ISO 1 rating, which helps keep insurance rates low for residents.

Additionally, we propose adding a Community Risk Reduction Coordinator to enhance citizen engagement and outreach. This will free up the current shift firefighter position who has been performing this duty, effectively adding four new firefighter positions for FY25.

Over the last few years, we have also had to move into a full-time career Fire Department, eliminating all our part-time firefighter positions. We have seen a trend, post COVID, where most firefighters that had been working for two different agencies have now decided to commit full-time to one and not take any part-time jobs.

Public Works Department: An Assistant Public Works Director is needed for succession planning and support, given that this is our third-largest department with almost 60 full-time employees.

We also propose adding an Urban Forestry Program Manager, who serves as our certified arborist, to manage our citywide tree maintenance program. Currently, we lack proactive tree management for the 3,048 acres of city-owned land including greenbelts, nature areas, roads and rights-of-way (18% of land in Peachtree City).

Engineering Services Division: We propose adding a Civil Engineer and a Building Maintenance Technician. Pre-COVID, our Engineering Department had three full-time engineers, but was reduced to one during the pandemic. We aim to restore the department to its pre-COVID levels to ensure effective plan reviews and inspections, freeing up the City Engineer for major projects.

The Building Maintenance Technician will support the new 20,000-square-foot facility for our Police Department, which will serve as an emergency operations center and training facility with a full gun range.

Additional Positions: A Human Resources Manager, an Events Specialist, and an Economic Development Manager. The Economic Development Manager will focus on supporting current industries and attracting new businesses, fulfilling a City Council goal. The Events Specialist will assist in managing smaller events, allowing our current Events Coordinator to focus on major events.

Lastly, the Human Resources Manager will help address service deficiencies in our HR department, especially in risk management.

During the budget process, more positions were proposed by departmental staff, but the listed positions represent our current priorities to meet the city’s needs and maintain high service levels.

Looking ahead, we may need to add more positions, especially firefighters for the new station and maintenance technicians, over the next 5-10 years unless there are changes in expectations or circumstances.

BROWN: There is a lot of animosity on local social media pages regarding the latest property assessment used for ad valorem taxes and the potential for another significant tax increase. What is the city government’s message for the disgruntled taxpayers?

STRICKLAND: The City does not perform property tax assessments, this function is completed by the County Tax Assessor’s Office. Residents who believe that their assessments are incorrect are urged to file  any challenges to property values/assessments directly with the Fayette County Tax Assessor’s office by the deadline. However, like I have said in my above answers, we take providing services to our citizens very seriously and our goal is to always balance expected service levels and efficient financial management. I also maintain an open line of communication with residents. I can be emailed at jstrickland@peachtree-city.org or residents can visit https://peachtree-city.org/1249/City-Manager to submit questions that I personally respond to. I love speaking with our citizens and as a citizen myself, I am always looking for ways to make our city better!

BROWN: Has the current city council made any attempt to solicit feedback from the taxpayers on the city’s current spending?

STRICKLAND: As a city organization, we are committed to actively soliciting feedback from our residents and welcome it even when not explicitly requested. Our public outreach efforts are deeply integrated into our budgeting process, which is the cornerstone of our operations. Beyond the required public hearing and postings, we strive to engage our citizens in every aspect of our city’s functions.

1. Community Satisfaction Survey: Every year, we conduct a Community Satisfaction Survey to gauge residents’ satisfaction with our services. Our most recent survey garnered an exceptional satisfaction rate of 92%, demonstrating our commitment to meeting community expectations.

2. Targeted Surveys: We conduct specific surveys on various topics, such as capital projects, SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), and our Recreation Master Plan. Another example would be a survey regarding the Flat Creek Boardwalk last year, where residents were posed with questions regarding fixing and reopening the boardwalk. These surveys provide us with valuable insights into residents’ priorities and preferences.

3. Townhall Meetings – “Slice of the City”: We host regular townhall meetings called “Slice of the City,” where staff from all departments present updates and initiatives to residents. These events encourage citizens to engage directly with staff and discuss any concerns or suggestions. Our next upcoming “Slice of the City” event will be June 26th and we encourage all to attend.

4. PTC101 Program: PTC101 is an annual 8-week course designed for residents interested in understanding the inner workings of our city. The program covers a wide range of topics, including budgeting, council meetings, path paving, code enforcement, recreation, engineering, police, fire, EMS, and library operations. Stay up to date on future PTC101 classes by visiting https://peachtreecity-ga.civilspace.io/en/projects/peachtree-city-101.

5. Weekly E-Newsletter: We publish a weekly e-mail newsletter that keeps residents informed about city news, events, and updates. Past issues can be viewed by visiting https://www.peachtree city.org/1363/Weekly-NewslettersUpdates. We encourage everyone in the city to subscribe to stay connected and engaged with our community.

Our ongoing efforts to engage with residents ensure that our budget and operations reflect the needs and desires of our community. By maintaining open lines of communication and actively seeking feedback, we strive to enhance the quality of life in Peachtree City and uphold our commitment to Uncompromised Excellence.

6. Council group email: The Mayor and Council always welcomes email submissions from residents. Their individual emails or a group email can be found at https://www.peachtree-city.org/109/Mayor-City-Council.

BROWN: At least four city council members campaigned as “conservatives.” Are there any fiscal conservative practices or principles within the city’s budgeting process?

STRICKLAND: As city employees, it is our mandate to take no political views. However, I can attest that our city staff takes a very conservative approach to spending. We carefully scrutinize every expenditure, which is why our supplies and services general ledger lines have not seen significant growth over the past decade. Cost considerations are paramount in every decision we make, and we competitively bid or quote almost all our purchases to ensure fiscal prudence. In turn, we then present those competitive bids that exceed staff approval thresholds to our Council to award those projects publicly.

For the budget process, as I said before, I adhere to a zero-based budgeting philosophy. This means we only fund what is necessary for operations, whether maintaining current levels or expanding services to meet our goals. My guiding principle for the FY25 budget process was “taking care of what we have.” As our city’s infrastructure ages, it is crucial to ensure the longevity of our existing assets and replace those that are failing. This necessity has led to an increase in our facility maintenance budget over the past few years, as we cannot use SPLOST funding for maintenance other than paving (see page 15 https://www.accg.org/library/legal/SPLOST%202016.pdf).

Initially, we began the staff budget process for FY25 with a projection that required using $3 million of our fund balance at a millage rate of 6.043. This approach was unsustainable and would have jeopardized our city’s financial health in the long term. Through extensive meetings with departments and rigorous analysis over several months, we have managed to reduce the projected use of the fund balance to $70,936 with a recommended millage rate of 5.983 with it flattening out in future years.

Staff is committed to maintaining fiscal responsibility while ensuring that we can adequately take care of our city’s needs. By focusing on necessary expenditures and efficient resource management, we aim to sustain and improve the quality of life in Peachtree City for all our residents.

BROWN: Has the city council and staff discussed how to stem the tide of the consistent increases in local taxes? If so, can you give us some insights?

STRICKLAND: As I have previously mentioned, balancing expected service levels with the actual costs of providing those services is a complex task. Our primary objective is to align our services with our vision of Uncompromised Excellence. Many of us chose to live in Peachtree City for several overlapping reasons, such as our outstanding school system, extensive path system, robust public safety, well maintained community esthetics, and abundant recreational amenities. These services, many of which are provided by our city organization, come at a very real cost.

We already operate a very lean and efficient organization considering the level of services we provide. Personally, I believe our citizens, me included, receive excellent value for the cost of living here, which I think is reflected in the high quality of services we deliver.

Thanks to our sound financial practices, Moody’s Investor Service upgraded Peachtree City’s issuer rating to AAA from Aa1 in March of 2023. This top-tier rating allows us to save taxpayers’ money annually through lower interest rates on our existing bonds, approximately $300k over the next 10 years. A manageable approach to the use of funds is appropriate to maintaining our bond rating and guaranteeing us the lowest rate possible when issuing any future bonds.

As stated previously, it’s important to recognize that we are experiencing an unprecedented rate of inflation, and the City of Peachtree City is not immune to these economic pressures. Just as households face increased costs, the city faces rising costs for paving, personnel (https://peachtree-city.org/ImageRepository/Document?documentID=25466), and technology.

For instance, paving costs have increased by over 65% in recent years, personnel costs nationwide have risen by 23% since 2020, and technology costs have surged by more than 50%. These increases have been market driven.

Our decision to raise employee pay was intentional and strategic, aiming to reach the 85th percentile and become an employer of choice for top talent. This approach has been successful, and I believe it is reflected in the quality of services our citizens experience daily. We will continue to explore ways to manage costs effectively while maintaining the high standard of living and services that Peachtree City residents expect and deserve.

Rising labor costs are not just a Peachtree City trend but have exploded nationally since COVID. In the 5 years from 2019 to 2024, the national median earnings of full-time workers in the United States has increased by 23% from $46,748 to $59,072. That is higher than the previous 10 years combined from 2009, $38,064 to 2019, $46,748.

To conclude, we invite residents to participate in the upcoming budget process by attending an upcoming meeting or hearing, https://www.peachtree-city.org/1175/Government-Meetings. Our budget calendar dates are listed below.

• Thursday, July 11 – Hold Public Hearing on Proposed Budget and Capital Improvement Program (CIP)

• Thursday, August 1 – Adoption of Operating Budget and Capital Improvement Program. Adopt Millage Rate

• Thursday, August 15 – Adopt CVB [Convention and Visitors Bureau] and KPTCB [Keep Peachtree City Clean & Beautiful] Budgets

I would also encourage everyone reading this to go back and view our two most recent budget workshops that are available on our YouTube page where we delve deep into trends we are seeing and the FY25 Proposed Budget. They can be found here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkqKYWKNEw4&t=2212s

and here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EoZSzPfp_w

Mr. Brown, thank you for asking these very important questions.

[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.]

5 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t have a problem with the proposed budget. I do have concerns with the future costs of additional non-public safety-related hires. As stated before, I prefer to not spend down reserves unless necessary but to build upon them when possible.

    • But it’s a lie. The county hasn’t raised mileage rates, but they’ve increased the valuation of my property by 70% in three years. I’m paying $400 more per month in property tax than I was three years ago. I live in a 1,425 sq ft ranch built in 1964. There is no way that someone will pay the $455,000 that the county says it’s worth.

      • No, you are confusing what I am saying. The county has nothing directly to do with PTC’s millage rate. And further, I didn’t say that PTC hasn’t raised taxes through the increased millage rate.

        What I did say is that if your property was in Tyrone or Fayetteville, then the increase would have been EVEN MORE than it is in PTC. And we definitely get more bang for our buck than them.

        Re: your property tax increase. How much of that is PTC vs. everything else, though? 3 years ago, PTC was 19.7% of your property tax bill (6.043 mills out of 30.721). Today, it is projected to be 19.8% of your property tax bill (5.983 mills out of 30.227). That means that PTC is only responsible for about 20% of the claimed $400/month increase, or $80/month ($960/year).

        I also can’t get your math to work. Are you sure that’s the actual tax increase or is it your escrow change (tax + insurance + shortage)? If your house is worth $455k today and it increased 70%, then it should have been worth ~$268k in the past. The assessed values (40% of total value) would be $182k and $107k, respectively. $182k at a millage of 30.227 is $$5,501 in tax. $107k at a millage of 30.721 is $3,287. That’s a difference of $2,214 in total tax, or $184.50 per month. And the PTC tax change is $442, or $36.83 per month.

  2. The bragging about mileage rates really gets to me. The county has increased by property value by 70% over the past three years. My mortgage payment has increased by $500/month just to cover the increased property taxes. I’ve appealed every year, and it doesn’t matter. Looking at these increases in values and claiming that the taxes that would have been even higher if the mileage rate weren’t lower and calling that a savings to tax payers is wild. Only government can dramatically increase your taxes and tell you it’s a savings.