PTC opulence vs. what is enough
A short time back while traversing our city in my golf cart, I approached the scene of an unfortunate accident whereby a teenaged girl had struck a mailbox, resulting in the golf cart she was driving on its side while she sat crying in the adjacent driveway.
While the young lady’s injury was mostly from being embarrassed, the extent of the involvement of our local public safety officials was substantial.
To be specific, two police cruisers, the traffic motorcycle, two fire department SUVs, an ambulance, and one ladder truck were all at the scene.
Granted, on this quiet neighborhood street, traffic is minimal so no traffic control or crowd control was warranted, which led me to believe that drivers of these vehicles had time to mill around and look official until the one paramedic comforted the young lady until her parents arrived, presumably to receive the sure to follow traffic ticket.
Within two days of the above incident, a mishap occurred on a relatively busy thoroughfare within our town whereby a bicyclist evidently lost control, ending up on the shoulder of the road with a potential injury and quite a seriously damaged bike.
This time there were three police cruisers, two fire department SUVs, an ambulance, and the (you guessed it) a ladder truck.
I must give credit here to our local police because one officer was directing traffic because the other lane was completely blocked by city vehicles.
I surely hope the bicyclist doesn’t object to being ticketed for failure to maintain his lane.
To further make my point, just recently a lady walking to the ninth green at Planterra Ridge Golf Course stepped into a hole, resulting in a broken ankle.
Again, our public safety folks were called and rushing to the rescue were three police cruisers, an ambulance, a fire department SUV (it was lunchtime), and yet another ladder truck.
One must bear in mind that the ninth hole had to be closed and approaching golfers were privileged to wait until the city vehicle roadblock dissipated, which was extended because this time the ladder truck whose driver simply had to get as close to the action as possible became stuck because the irrigated grassy area surrounding the ninth green would simply not bear the weight of this monster.
One can only wonder the cost incurred by those charged with getting that ladder truck back to the precinct.
Just this week I learned that our esteemed mayor was reimbursed $9,969.40 for his costs involving him being sued for slander due to what I characterize as irresponsible behavior.
Granted, the term “irresponsible” is my opinion, but for the life of me I simply do not believe that public funds should be used in this instance. When one considers that the entire matter could have been settled with a timely public apology, the matter simply reeks of arrogance and contempt for taxpayer dollars.
Fellow citizens, I make light of this not because of any slight toward the men and women providing public safety for our community, for I have witnessed firsthand the loss that can occur when tragedy strikes, and therefore I have the utmost respect for these individuals.
I do so because of the lack of leadership afforded those individual paramedics, firefighters, and policemen by those we have entrusted to run our city.
For example, in any one of the aforementioned instances, can anyone other than a city “staffer” rationalize the use of a ladder truck?
Is there anyone out there who believes the mayor was acting in the best interests of the city by having the city pay for his sophomoric behavior? I can hardly wait for our esteemed mayor’s retort.
Watching those hard at work maintaining our unique cart path system, one can only wonder why there seems to be a truck for everyone present. Surely, someone other than me has noticed that it’s usually one person’s toil and sweat being supervised by three to five others.
Among those firms contracted by the city to cut grass or maintain our roadway medians, this is certainly not the case, for the supervisor is normally so involved in the task at hand that he/she is indistinguishable.
We’ve all been told that there exists no more room to cut within our city’s budget, and within the last year the city has borrowed a few more million dollars to offset capitol purchases that starkly resemble operating costs. So I ask the question: Can the city operate on an annual income of $30 million?
We all may have different answers, but for me I would say certainly, and that we could do so for much less if we took the approach to running the city as a business instead of a government.
Two examples: First, is there any reason that we require both a police chief and a fire chief when a public safety director could do the work of both? Additionally, combining those departmental positions that are duplicitous and serve primarily as “staff” for each department head would yet afford the city additional savings.
Second, have the City Council set a ceiling for an annual budget and require department heads to operate within the limits of what they’re actually allocated versus those same department heads stating their “requirements” beforehand. In other words, stop letting the tail wag the dog.
Peachtree City has passed its zenith in growth, and as our population continues to age, simply maintaining the revenue levels required to run this city will require substantial tax increases. These increases have already taken its toll on the number of young families relocating here, and many former residents have chosen to reside elsewhere.
Are you willing to have your property taxes increased again and again on top of a very probable 1 percent TSPLOST for perhaps the next 30 years, not to mention the ever increasing stormwater fees?
Michael L. King
Peachtree City, Ga.