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PTC to lower tax rate 1.25%

With no property tax increase in the works, a public hearing on Peachtree City’s $29.58 million budget passed without comment from the four residents who attended the July 18 City Council meeting.

The budget proposed by city staff, which includes a 1.25 percent dip in the millage rate, is also notable because a typically fractious council hasn’t been able to haggle over one bit of it so far.

In the background, but looming for the members are the November elections in which three posts, including mayor, are up for grabs, and politicking has already begun.

Council is expected to adopt the budget and millage rate at one of the August council meetings.

While the budget uses $794,000 from the city’s unrestricted cash reserves, this is the last year the city plans to do so under its five-year budget outlook, said city Finance Director Paul Salvatore.

The reserves are needed this year for street and cart path resurfacing as the $2 million a year the city had been getting from the 2004 countywide transportation sales tax has been completely exhausted, Salvatore noted.

The slight decrease in the millage rate is due to the city paying off the airport authority bonds, Salvatore said.

If a sales tax proposed by the county fails this November, the city might have to ask its residents to authorize a general obligation bond to pay for several years of street and path repaving, Salvatore noted. If both those plans fail, the city may have to simply add the cost to its general fund, which would necessitate a millage rate increase and/or budget cuts in other areas.

The budget also includes a second proposed facilities bond to be used to upgrade deteriorating infrastructure in the city. That bond, which staff has suggested should be for $2.5 million, would not require a tax increase because the city can use debt service capacity freed up by the recent paying off of the airport authority bonds, officials have said.

The debt service on such a bond would be about $298,000 a year over 10 years, according to Salvatore, who has projected it would go to market early next year presuming it is approved by council.

The 2013-2014 budget includes a proposed 2 percent cost of living salary increase for city employees, who haven’t received such since the 2008-2009 fiscal year. Last year council granted a 2 percent increase as a one-time payment to prevent salary hikes from affecting the budget.

Funding is also included for a comprehensive pay/classification study that has not been undertaken since 2001. No implementation funds, however, were added to the budget, Salvatore cautioned Thursday.

The staff-proposed budget includes one new civilian position for the fire department: a logistics specialist to keep track of and place orders for needed tools, supplies and equipment, pending a review of fire department staff by a contractor who is also reviewing the police department, Salvatore said. No other recommended staff reductions and/or departmental reorganizations are planned, Salvatore said.

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