Despite the discontent of one city councilman, Peachtree City has a new, slightly elevated millage rate.
Councilman George Dienhart announced almost up-front that he planned to vote against the rolled up millage rate because he felt they hadn’t done enough to slash the budget at the city’s latest budget workshop.
City finance director Paul Salvatore and city manager Dr. Jim Pennington recommended a 6.756 mill roll up for the Maintenance and Operation budget and a 0.422 mills roll up for the bonds to offset tax revenue decline.
There had been a projected zero percent decline, since the city was feeling optimistic after last year’s one percent decline in property tax revenue. Instead, they were hit with a 5.13 percent decline, amounting to some $630,000 of lost tax revenue.
According to Salvatore, the impact on residents is going to depend on the valuation of their property.
“Some people may see nothing, others a slight increase, but this is, basically, a revenue neutral move. Some might even see a decline in their taxes, despite the millage number.”
The recommendation came despite last week’s budget workshop where councilmembers worked to refine and cut the budget even further in hopes of preventing the roll up.
“We’re still recommending the roll-up,” said Salvatore Monday morning, “to hold steady on property tax revenue. It’s the one thing we have control over.”
Salvatore had pointed out that the city has no control on
the SPLOST not being renewed
--See MILLAGE, page 2
nor on the amount the city might lose from the renewed LOST negotiations with county municipalities.
The impact of not doing the roll-up, pointed out Salvatore, is $630,000 this fiscal year but over the course of five years it would be $3 million dollars, leaving the projection of a balanced city budget by 2017 negatively affected.
“Those are numbers to hold taxes level; anything less, and you are effectively voting to lower taxes.”
At last Tuesday’s budget workshop, Dienhart said he wanted to see more cuts in the budget and wasn’t happy with the proposal of either a COLA raises to city employees or a one-time two-percent payout. The options have included everything from a zero to two percent increase, but, said Salvatore, even a one and a half percent increase would save the city $66,000 in payroll raises.
“My idea is not that government should treat itself better than the private sector,” said Dienhart, pointing to the fact that many people in the city have not received pay increases on their own jobs. “I’m just not on board with it. It’s part of being responsible. I can see no raise, simply because that’s how it is working in the non-government world. Some people haven’t gotten raises in five or six years.”
Dienhart said Monday he believed the city could do more to cut the budget in the areas of training and equipment. With the budget process itself still ongoing, Dienhart wants the staff to take a harder look. Additionally, Mayor Don Haddix is organizing a volunteer needs assessment team to look at city budget cuts.
On Monday, Haddix said that, even with the committee, the council had to address the millage rate.
“We’re only adopting this for this fiscal year. We’re not adopting two years out. It’s subject to negotiation again since nothing is written in stone after 2013.”
However, when it came to the bottom line, Haddix voted against the roll up.
Councilman Eric Imker had his own ideas for cutting the budget which ranged from cutting services to cutting personnel.
“I haven’t heard any proposals to do that. Unless I do, I’m voting for the increase.”
The millage increase passed in a three-two vote after a heated exchange between Imker and Haddix on the needs assessment study being organized.