Peachtree City votes 3-to-2 to raise tax rate with no cuts in staff

The Peachtree City Council approved a city property tax rate increase Monday morning to stave off the loss of more than $600,000 in revenue that would have been lost due to shrinking property reassessments.

The increase will have differing effects on individuals’ tax bills, all depending on whether one’s property value dropped by the city average of 5.2 percent or not.

If the parcel’s value dropped below that mark, they will not see an increase in their city tax rates. Properties whose value did not drop, or did not drop as much as 5.2 percent, will see some form of a tax increase.

Council voted 3-2 to approve the “roll up” millage rate, which features a higher rate designed only to account for the shortfall that would have occurred had the millage rate remained the same following the reduced property assessments.

Voting against the millage rate were Mayor Don Haddix and Councilman George Dienhart. Voting in favor of the rate were Council members Eric Imker, Vanessa Fleisch and Kim Learnard.

The action raised the millage rate by .372 to the 6.756 mill level. Adding on the 0.422 mills for the bond millage rage, city property owners will be subject to a total rate of 7.178.

Imker said Monday that he voted in favor of the increase because no one else could suggest any further specific budget cuts.

Imker said he asked if anyone on council would recommend cutting eight staffers from the police department, the fire department or the library.

“Nobody offered up any ideas so I said hey if we aren’t able to do that, and we’re going to keep the services we have, we need the same revenue we had last year, hence the rollup,” Imker said.

Haddix after the meeting said he objected to the increase because he feels the budget cuts enacted by city staff are piecemeal cuts.

“Band-Aids aren’t going to work,” Haddix said. “... Service cuts is the only way this is going to work.”

Haddix said he specifically does not want to cut public safety.

Last week, city officials unveiled $339,000 in additional budget cuts that will will reduce the use of cash reserves this year from $843,000 to $503,000.

At a previous meeting, Imker pointed out that the $600,000 hit due to property assessments would translate to a $3 million loss over five years and get the city’s budget significantly off track.

Haddix in the meantime is preparing to get to work with a citizen’s committee looking at how much citizens are willing to pay in city taxes, subsequently addressing which services they want to prioritize.

“It’s a blended question,” Haddix said. “How much are you willing to pay, and what do you want to fund for that amount?”

dar thompson
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I say raise them

This city is like no other I've ever seen...they want the moon but don't want to pay for it. It's like a sence of entitlement. If you want to drive a nice car you have to pay for a nice car. Maybe people are living beyond their means...I don't know. The issue is simple, if you expect nice things you have to pay for them.

Over time, in the right situation, lower taxes mean lower home values (there is a fine line here) which mean you are inviting potential trouble in devaluing of homes and real estate. If you can't afford to live here move somewhere else...PTC is not for everybody.

Increased (CITY) taxes under the right leadership can increase your home value(s) and quality of life...by a far greater margin than you put into the system.

Still can't for the life of me see how people complain about a slight tax increase while Kedron cost the tax payers $700,000 a year...and no one says a word. And, only about 1% of the taxpayers use it.

Can someone explain this to me?

dar thompson
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I say raise them

This city is like no other I've ever seen...they want the moon but don't want to pay for it. It's like a sence of entitlement. If you want to drive a nice car you have to pay for a nice car. Maybe people are living beyond their means...I don't know. The issue is simple, if you expect nice things you have to pay for them.

Over time, in the right situation, lower taxes mean lower home values (there is a fine line here) which mean you are inviting potential trouble in devaluing of homes and real estate. If you can't afford to live here move somewhere else...PTC is not for everybody.

Increased (CITY) taxes under the right leadership can increase your home value(s) and quality of life...by a far greater margin than you put into the system.

Still can't for the life of me see how people complain about a slight tax increase while Kedron cost the tax payers $700,000 a year...and no one says a word. And, only about 1% of the taxpayers use it.

Can someone explain this to me?

Citizen_Steve
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Clarification?
Quote:

The increase will have differing effects on individuals’ tax bills, all depending on whether one’s property value dropped by the city average of 5.2 percent or not. If the parcel’s value dropped below that mark, they will not see an increase in their city tax rates.

Is this true? If my assessment dropped by more than 5.2%, then I'll stay at the 6.384 millage rate? How is that going to be managed?

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Clarification

No, everyone's tax bill increases .372.

If you loose exactly 5.2% value in your home your bill will remain the same. That means you will be paying a higher percentage of your home value in property tax.

To put it another way, what your bill would have decreased by is added back into your bill.

If more than 5.2% loss, you will have a decrease, but still will be paying a .372 higher bill than you would have otherwise.

If your value decreases by less than 5.2% or actually increases, you bill will go up.

It is a tax increase. Calling it a Roll-up is a political way of trying to say you are paying the same, even though your home is not worth the same.

Citizen_Steve
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Spin and no-spin

Spin from the news report yet straight talk from the mayor. How about that?

Steve

Robert W. Morgan
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Bowers: Haddix - SHTFUYAH

Don,
I told you no blogging - remember that?
So no blogging or I am going to quit.
You want me to quit?
I will.
Your imaginary friend,
Mike

Georgia Patriot
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Work With What you Have!

Raising taxes for any reason in this economy is unacceptable!

Obfuscating by calling a tax something else is just as unacceptable!

Try one of your famous surveys and see what the people want, just be sure to include a line that gives the option to...... Balance the Budget and Live Within Your Means! GP

Larry Sussberg
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Mayor Haddix

Why would you start a response to MLC slamming the other members of council who have recently asked you to chair this committee.
Instead of responding to MLC about your committee and what you plan on accomplishing you have to take shots.

For 3 years now bloggers have asked you to stop this crap.
Every time you do this, you re-enforce your lack of leadership!

Bostonian212
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Larry Sussberg dumb statement...

Are you for real? what idiot would make such a stupid statement?

--Mike,
I agree with you 100% of the time....

Larry Sussberg
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Bostonian212

Excuse me for the error.

Feel better now! Looks like you had a fun morning pissing on a few bloggers.

Bostonian212
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tsk tsk tsk....

no need to get Pi_ _ Y now...
It just gets so annoying after a while reading stupidity!

Larry Sussberg
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Bostonian212-Too funny

Oh, totally agree!!!!!

You have to be, you are here.

We can always use another pisser on here

Welcome lol

Larry Sussberg
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.

.

.

Larry Sussberg
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.

.

Larry Sussberg
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MLC-well said

Well said Moe,Curly, Larry

Hence the Mayor's committee to guide the process on service cuts vs tax increases.

Mike King
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Another Tax Increase Mr Imker?

Last time I looked we were still in the midst of a recession, but if one works for the city government they're immune. What is not mentioned here is that the police department has just hired an out of state deputy chief selected by Chief Clark supposedly due to being overworked. We still have all of the captains, they still have a nearly seven million dollar annual budget, and no one on council seems to have the courage to say enough? Does this mean that all department heads get to hire a deputy?

This is a slap in the face to any thinking resident of Peachtree City.

It's past time to start cutting.

Bostonian212
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deep rooted dislike...

Is it just me or does Mike King seem to have some deep rooted dislike for the PTC PD? It sure sounds that way. Hmmm...maybe some research needs to be done to look at his and/or family members history to see the root of the continued PD bashing!

Maybe Mike its time to try a different soapbox other than the PCPD bashing over and over again.

Dondol
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Whoa, whoa, whoa, Bostonian212

Mike is dead on on this, why in the world does our bloated, severely under-worked chief need another asst when we as a City are trying to find ways to cut cost. Just doesn't pass the smell test.

Bostonian212
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name calling and slanderous remarks...

You simply show your intelligence (or lack thereof) level when you resort to name calling and slanderous remarks…facts make for more “intelligent dialog”.

As I recall from one of the council meetings when this position was discussed it was merely a title change. From former Major (Dupree) to the newly created title of Asst. Chief. Furthermore, if memory serves correctly (and I am confident that it does) the salary was to remain exactly the same as the position formerly known as Major. Net result no additional expense incurred to the City.

Now, that being said…if you want to discuss railroading the (Major) out to make room for his our person (to watch his back) then that could make for some interesting conversation perhaps. But that takes this whole budget conversation way off the topic..so prob better left for another day.

YourGoodPalMike
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Name-calling is a sign of weak intellect.

If someone cannot debate on facts, they often resort to name-calling. Just the dirty part of politics.

I've learned that you just have to try to identify people who can't be swayed with facts and new information, then cut them off. Why bother to debate them? You can't win because they are never wrong (in their minds).

Many of them fly that yellow snake flag that says "Don't try to reason with me."

moelarrycurly
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Mike

We are in the accreditation process right now. Not going to happen.

Mike King
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MLC

Who will tell the Chief no? Certainly not anyone on Council. My point being is that currently if Chief Clark can not run the PTCPD without a deputy, we hired the wrong person. Further, this stands as a reminder to the entire force that upward mobility/promoting from within takes a back seat to the chief's wishes.

Bostonian212
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we hired the wrong person....

Did you make the same comments to/about Chief Murray when he had an Asst?

Need you be reminded as to Major Mike Dupree? Must you also be reminded as to how long that position has been established within the PCPD Ranks?

I still smell a vendetta Mike!

Mike King
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Bostonian212

Murray's antics before his departure speak for themselves. You've not heard me mention the former asst chief because quite frankly he hasn't been missed.

Bostonian212
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Typical Blogger....lose and divert..

I guess you wish to AVOID THE QUESTION.

Your original comments were focused on the Chief having a Deputy and the lack of need, etc. You lost that debate and now wish to turn the focus away to something completely unrelated to your original post… regarding the Chief and the need for him (Clark) to have a Deputy (your words) Asst.

How that song go…TRUE CLORS!

Mike King
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Bostonian212

No one avoided your question. There currently is no need for a deputy chief since the functions have largely been spread throughout the force. You do recall that Major Dupree suffered serious health issues for quite some time prior to his retirement. Hence those same functions are currently being accomplished are they not? Just because one has a position to fill does not necessarily mean that there's really a need.

Be honest, if we are to spend the money would you prefer two uniformed street cops that have the potential of actually making the city safer or a deputy chief requiring another dedicated parking space at police headquarters?

NUK_1
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PD past and present

Look at the budgets between the Murray/Dupree times and the Skip regime presently and the change(minimal)in population between these two eras. Also look at the number of traffic citations issued as well as the new era's roadblocking BS.

Murray was a damn good police chief that inherited a disaster here in PTC long ago and turned it into something very good over time. Skip has done nothing but blow up spending ever since he arrived and seems more per-occupied with cops sitting around in medians waiting to write some tickets or roadblocking than "to protect and to serve." Give me Murray any day over some guy who came from a nothing community of 5,000 senior citizens and immediately doesn't have enough cops.

This reminds me of when Bernie McMullen was stupidly hired as City Mgr despite lacking ANY qualifications or experience to suggest he could do the job and within two weeks was begging for help and an assistant city mgr. At least Skippy waited longer.

BTW, what ever happened to the big "eliminate the captain's plan" from a few months ago?

moelarrycurly
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Mike

I stand by my comment. The timing on some of this is really bad. I do believe there are things that should not be discussed in a forum such as this one.

If you read Councilman Dienhart's last comment, the 339k in cuts he mentions. I do believe they came from the PD and a little from the FD budgets. I'm sure he will correct me if I am wrong.

The 339k in cuts, along with what was missing in this story, but reported in the previous budget story, were the salary increases of $280,000. I don't care if those were for a one time adjustment or a permanent increase that will be a carried over into all future budgets. This gave this city a net decrease in expenses of those 2 items of only $59,000 for the upcoming year. How can anyone justify this with $635,000 decrease in income already? The budget is already using reserves to pay the day to day expenses. A huge bond (loan) taken out this year to make up for neglect by past staff and councils of our facilities. Where was the discussion on the huge expenses we incur in parks and recreation and sports? This rests solely on the yes votes from Council (Learnard, Fleisch and Imker) and especially shows a lack of leadership from the city manager, as he adamantly fought for this increase. He repeatedly argued that the best asset the city has is it's employees. Over and over.

You know what I think the best asset this city has? The residents who live here and pay the taxes to support the city budget and staff. The residents who, as Dienhart pointed out, are hurting as much or more than city staff. Those who have been downsized or lost jobs or had pay cuts and no raises, and yet are still finding a way to pay their property taxes. The seniors here who got no COLA in their SS for 2010 and 2011 and still pay their taxes. Retirees or almost retirees who lost retirement fortunes in investments, yet still pay their taxes. Young working adults who have not been able to have any upward mobility for years, because their company is holding back on everything due to the economy and Obamacare, yet still pay their taxes. Companies and small businesses here that have fewer customers who are buying their products, yet still pay their taxes.

Staff and 3 on council keep ignoring the biggest issue this city faces. We provide more services and have more facilities and infrastructure than we have income to support. Period.

We have 3 trains of thought here.

1) Keep all the services, I don't care about the cost, I can afford it, this is why I live here. Raise taxes to pay for it.

2) Cut some services, I do care about the cost, although I am finding it harder to afford, and I still want to live here, but am finding it harder to justify that we really need all the bells and whistles we have that other cities don't have because I don't want tax increases every year to support the costs.

3) Slash the budget. Get it balanced without relying on reserves as a source of income. I am willing to go with less police, fire, EMS, maint. of structures and paths and roads and facilities. Just don't raise my taxes. And this "roll-up vs. tax increase" is a sham. All of it a tax increase. Just because my property has been devalued in a tax assessment, does not mean a millage increase is not a tax increase. It is, call it what it is. A tax increase.

I am going to make a wild guess that the 2nd and 3rd choices are the majority of taxpayers here. Not the majority of bloggers here, but the majority of taxpayers here.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: moelarrycurly

That is what the Needs Assessment Committee will do, meaning find out exactly what the citizens want, not what members of Council want.

Imker, Dienhart and Fleisch oppose the committee and didn't like it when I announced it was already in work. But they know it falls under the office of Mayor, not Council, so they cannot stop it.

The last Survey was for 2010. Council formed the questions, which ended up biased, except for the tax question, which they didn't want asked.

When asked what do people want/like, there was a list.

When asked on taxes, a question that had to be forced onto the Survey, 86.2% said no tax increase with service cuts to balance the budget. But no cuts to Safety.

After that came the 1.25 tax increase with no more Surveys. There were only statements about holding a town hall, where very few people showed with not all liking what was said, or you can email Council.

For sure many of the bloggers do not represent what is being said, one on one, by citizens to me.

By taking it out of the hands of elected we should get an accurate view of what PTC really wants. Not questions such as what would you like to have, but how much can you pay and what are your spending priorities from that amount?

Mike King
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Another Bone Headed Post By The Mayor

Another bone headed post by the Mayor, it was stated either last evening or the other evening that leaders change polls not react to them(or words to that effect). This mayor has been on the dais for five years and still has no clue as to what his constituents desire. The 86.2% percent figure without cuts to safety is derived from such a small number of respondents as compared to the city population which makes it irrelevant, in my opinion.

Cuts have to be made, and with some 47% of the city's budget going to police and fire, it stands to reason that the majority of cuts need to be there. Should the position of deputy chief not be filled one could easily assume that some $175K annually(benefits included) would be saved which is a great start toward that $600K deficit. Now, if our chief is incapable of leading this police force, perhaps it's time for a replacement. I can name two or even three current in house captains that could step into the chief's position now with no degradation of the force.

I try to live by the axiom of "Lead, Follow, or get the Hell out of the way" and it seems that since there is little to no leadership displayed on council one cannot expect anyone to lead. Since there is obvious divisiveness, bickering, and childish antics on a consistent basis one cannot anyone on council to follow. So now I guess it's time for them to simply get the Hell out of the way.

Just my two cents worth.

GeorgeDienhart
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Never said I opposed it

You have not set any kind of expectations with this. I don't know enough to support or oppose. You need to be a little more accurate in your statements of who supports what.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Semantics

You didn't say you didn't understand it. In fact you said doing Needs Assessment has to be ongoing, not one time.

You said you saw no need for it.

Yes, I did set an expectation. Just because you didn't like it or cannot see it does not negate it.

Let others decide for themselves on whether you opposed it or not, because you sure didn't say go ahead if I so desired.

I urge everyone to attend the Committee Meetings and take part in the Survey when it goes out. This is your time to speak up unfiltered by politics.

Last word is yours, if you want it.

Bostonian212
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SO MUCH FOR...

HOPE AND CHANGE!

Spyglass
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I would fall between 1 and 2...closer to 1...

And yeah, I love living here. And I do use the paths, amenities etc...but mainly the paths.

I do miss the way we used to keep the city up. The landscaping maintenance is atrocious compared to just 5 years ago. I do not think we can afford to let it get worse.

moelarrycurly
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Spy,

I, too, miss the way the city was kept up. I'm sure all of council and staff and those who live here miss it, too. It has improved over what is was after the public works staff was let go, but will probably never come back to where it was until the economy gets much better and we have more revenue coming in. I don't think anyone wants it to get worse. This new budget allows for 4 additional part time public works employees. I am not aware of any cuts to the outsourced landscaping, but we all know those costs will increase over time. I am looking forward to possible good news coming from the FCDA. That would be a way to take some of the burdens off from staff and council.

Larry Sussberg
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Mike King-Mayor Haddix's Citizen Committee

Mike,
I agree with you 100% of the time,but its my understanding that council has asked the mayor to take charge of the budget issues since the mayor knows that the only budget adjustments left might be service cuts.

Read the 2 letters to the editor written by the mayor first accusing the 3 other council members of smoke and mirrors regarding the budget followed by his letter saying that he was convening a committee.

Any recommendations for cuts in police, fire or other services or a tax increase is now in the hands of Mayor Haddix and the committee. It is now completely in the hands of Mayor Haddix to make a budget proposal based on the committee feedback for city council to approve.

We should focus on making sure this committee is convened and follow it at every council meeting for updates and a final report date.

Thanks

moelarrycurly
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Amazing how

some feel it is one person's responsibility to cut services, while there are actually 5 on council who make the decisions. Where is it written that 4 council members are not part of service cut decision making? Or are they just to sit back, let others recommend the cuts, vote them down 3-2 and say no cuts. Or, let others recommend the cuts, and go along with them, thus being able to say, "well it wasn't my choice". Or, is it the mayor and council's job to instruct city management to come up with service cuts, present them to us in a referendum and let us vote on what we do and don't want to keep?

Larry Sussberg
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Amazing how....

One person can read a post so inaccurately or draw bogus conclusions......let's review the operative words
"Committee to review service cuts", "make recommendations", "vote"

MYTMITE
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So, Imker said no one offered up any ideas, so where are all the

bright ideas he professed to have when he was running for Council? The council needs to sharpen their pencils and do some cutting. They cannot expect to continue to raise taxes. I thought Imker knew how to balance that budget--that he had handled huge sums and had all the answers. Now it seems that was all hot air. Surprise, surprise.

Bostonian212
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Show the facts....

Mr. Dienhart,
Stop making blanket general statements that have ZERO merit! If you are going to make a statement regarding private sector and pay increases, etc. show your data to support such a stupid unfounded blanket statement! Maybe the company you work for has not given merit raises or COLA increases but I for one work in a corporation that you "blanket" referece and I have recieved what you claim private sector hasn't done in 5 yrs.

You are in politics now Sir...what you say is under a microscope....before you make statements of fact...you should have your data or you just get a reputation of a blow hard shouting out numbers / facts that are simply fasle.

GeorgeDienhart
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According to a study from

Sentier Research:

†During the recession, median household income adjusted for inflation fell by 3.2 percent, to $53,518. The study defined that period as December 2007 to June 2009.

†Median income fell at more than double that rate, by another 6.7 percent to $49,909, from June 2009 to this past June.

†Self-employed households saw the largest percentage decline in yearly income after the recession, down 8.4 percent, to $64,816.

†By race, African-American households suffered the biggest percentage decline after the recession, down 9.4 percent to $31,784. White households’ incomes declined the least, by 4.7 percent, to $56,320.

The research was based on Department of Labor statistics

Bostonian212
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still no data to support your blanket statement ....

.... Most people in the private sector have not received any kind of pay adjustment (COLA, bonus or special payment) in the last 5 years.

GeorgeDienhart
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It's a shame...

That the Citizen didn't send anyone to cover this story. It also was not recorded. I recommended several hundred thousand dollars in various cuts. This was discussed in the special called meeting. One such cut would have been reducing or eliminating the 2% payment that is scheduled for employees in lieu of a raise. Most people in the private sector have not received any kind of pay adjustment (COLA, bonus or special payment) in the last 5 years. This is the third such adjustment given to city employees in that time frame. I truly value the contribution made by city employees, but we need to start running this city at least as lean as a private business.

The phrase "nobody offered up any ideas" is grossly inaccurate. No one has looked into staff reductions yet- that should be the last place we cut. The correct verbiage would have been "Nobody offered up any specific cuts to staff".

http://fayettedailynews.com/article.php?id_news=10131

The truth is, Mr. Imker and I both have developed our own lists of cuts- we worked together and were able to incorporate some items from each list into this budget. This is what led to the 339k in additional cuts.

GeorgeDienhart
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John Munford

I just found out that John tried to reach me before writing this. As I am having problems with my mobile email, I didn't get the message. My apologies to John.

PTC Observer
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Mr. Dienhart - The

problem is that government isn't private business, it doesn't depend on its survival through market action, if it did then hard decisions would be made concerning personnel vs. services. The problem is the government simply has a source of income through force of law.

We have a small enough community that the citizen's should have had a vote on this issue. The recent election could have included a referendum on this question, but seems that would be way too difficult. Right Mr. Dienhart?

As citizens of PTC, we should have the opportunity to give our views on services vs. taxes through the franchise.

GeorgeDienhart
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You do have input

You can contact any of the 5 members of council and voice you opinion. While government may not depend on the market for survival, it can surely learn some things from the private sector, especially when we are looking into greater efficiency.

PTC Observer
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Mr. Dienhart - Well

We are not talking about me, we are talking about the population that votes in Peachtree City. A referendum to raise taxes is very doable in a city like ours. It doesn't require a lot of cost and can be quite simple. The fact is that there are many in our community that are struggling to make ends meet.

The fact is we just finished having a runoff election and a primary election, they could have been used as a method of having a non-binding referendum on the issue of raising taxes in PTC.

Let's see the council can think outside the box when taking money from citizens' pockets. Council members have a difficult job, but you make it hard on yourself when you don't get broad community input on something as important as tax increases.

It's true that government can learn from private business, the facts show that it doesn't. That's because it can simply raise taxes using the force of law instead of looking for "greater efficiency".

abeautifulday4us
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“Nobody offered up any ideas"

“Nobody offered up any ideas"--- Councilmember Imker

Exactly why did you run for council, Mr. Imker??? Isn't this YOUR job ???

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