PTC spends unexpected $800K windfall

In the light of great news about the Peachtree City’s financial position, a plan to spend $934,000 in general fund cash reserves was approved Thursday by the City Council.

Two-thirds of the money will go toward urgent bridge repair projects and one culvert repair project. The other $290,000 will go toward information technology services both in the form of a contractor and a new employee for the IT department.

Softening the blow significantly was a report from Finance Director Paul Salvatore noting that the city ended the previous fiscal year on a much better note than expected. The city ended with an additional $800,000 more than expected, in large part due to unbudgeted revenue from the new one-time motor vehicle sales tax.

That revenue was unbudgeted because it was unknown at budget time how it would affect the city’s bottom line, Salvatore said.

The city last year also realized more savings in expenses as well, Salvatore added, along with an unbudgeted $220,000 increase in the tax digest.

All that good news about the budget likely made it easier for council to approve the dip into the general fund reserves, which will still be well over the city’s minimum threshold of an equivalent to 20 percent of its annual budget, Salvatore said.

Even after taking out the $934,000 the city will still be an additional $4.8 million over the minimum level, Salvatore said.

And because the new motor vehicle tax revenue was not plugged in to the current fiscal year budget, that will have a positive impact on the city’s reserves at year’s end, Salvatore added.

While more than two-thirds of the amount will go toward urgent bridge and culvert repair projects, another $290,000 will pay for technology-related services to provide additional Information Technology support for the issues revealed in a recent detailed study of the police and fire departments, according to a memo circulated to council.

That study determined that mobile data terminals in both police and fire vehicles had significant transmission network problems that needed to be addressed.

To justify the spending at $290,000, city staff noted that there are other IT needs the city is facing including the pending implementation of a new records management system for the police department and the purchase and implementation of a citywide enterprise resource planning system.

Furthermore, one of the city’s two IT staffers has been deployed on a six-month military assignment and that has created additional expense for part-time staff to fill in and meet the city’s IT needs. The city is using an outsourced technology company to support the remaining IT employee.

The memo indicates that other than a full-time equivalent staffer needed for the police and fire department services, the other IT services the city needs won’t last beyond the budget year.

As for the $644,000 in bridge work and culvert repair, it will be spread out over eight different projects and the city had hoped they could be funded by a special local option sales tax. But the countywide vote sacked the tax several weeks ago, taking that option off the table.

Instead of dipping into the general fund, the city could instead seek funding for future transportation projects through a general obligation bond that would also require voter approval, or perhaps funding through the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank loan program. Details on those proposals will also be discussed at the council meeting Thursday night.