I confess that I’m cheap. But then again, these days, I think everyone ought to be cheap. OK, maybe that’s harsh. Let’s just use the word, “responsible.” One never knows where things will be headed in this uncertain climate. I believe most of us in this area adhere to the concept of responsibility. While it’s important to be responsible, we all ought to splurge once in a while. Since my BlackBerry was on the fritz with an exploding battery and cracked case, I upgraded to a better phone. With my gracious company discount, I bought the iPhone. Did I really need it? Not really, but I splurged somewhat within my means and needed something that will hopefully last me until malfunctions from too much use in a few years. That same idea applies to our food consumption. We should all eat well using common sense, but sometimes that hot fudge sundae looks great. Furthermore, it’s not good to deny ourselves the pleasures in life.
After attending this past week’s city council meeting, I cannot help but apply those same life principles of responsibility towards the budget presented. Indeed, I’m no expert on city budgets. The honorable mayor and council along with some very incredibly intelligent and talented folks seem to be competent on budget writing. But, after perusing some of the items within the $2.7 million dollar FY 2013 budget, I admit that I’m in agreement with those who stood up at the meeting and questioned the general fund’s overall perceived largesse.
Perhaps the City of Peachtree Corners’ budget’s framework is standard fare for budget-writers, but to me, it’s pricey. OK, maybe it’s not pricey, but then again, I’m cheap. I just do not see why the new “city-light” needs a special 311 line that will handle questions that need to be quickly answered. What needs to be answered so quickly? If I have a problem with trash pick-up, wouldn’t I just call the chosen private contractor and say, “Hey pick up my trash!”? If I need a zoning issue resolved, do I really need to dial a 311 operator to quickly resolve it for me? Couldn’t anything pressing be handled via e-mail or even by text or instant message to the mayor or council members? The last time I checked, those methods do not seem to cost too much. Maybe a 311 line would be a gift from heaven in Mayberry, but I think we advanced a little bit since Aunt Bee served her last cherry pie to Andy. OK, it’s obvious that I’m jesting on this item. I’m sure there are nice folks out there who can make a good case for the 311 line, but I think Mr. Kaczynski is a bit tied up right now. Seriously, the 311 service might be great and I respect anyone who thinks that this would be a valuable service, but please state the case why we really need this line.
It’s also standard that any city has a paid staff and its citizens support that staff through taxes paid. But to me, these salaries add up once one includes the city manager’s salary. Indeed, the “city-light” needs to attract the best and brightest, but at what price? Is $199,954 a fair price in this economy? Again, I’m cheap, and maybe there’s a good argument for that salary and its associated costs like a relocation fee. Then again, why would one want to have a city manager come in from somewhere else and learn about Peachtree Corners’ back-story on the job?
Probably the best feature in the budget is the reserve fund. Mayor Mason made an excellent case for the $200,000 fund which would go towards emergencies.
Resident Gray Terry came up with a good idea before being cut-off. Mr. Terry recommended a homestead exemption for seniors. I would extend that to military personnel.
Yes, many costs are upfront/one-time-only costs and will not be included in future budgets. Nevertheless, the city could get great deals on computers and office equipment a bit cheaper than what they’re looking to spend. Perhaps the city wants quality equipment that will last a lot longer than the bargain-basement Acer-type computers? After all, there is an old adage that, “You get what you pay for.”
I like to echo what former comedian turned conservative talk show host Dennis Miller used to say, “These are my opinions, I could be wrong.” I believe in a responsible budget. I am just not sure if the City of Peachtree Corners’ FY 2013 Budget General Fund is indeed responsible. I honestly want to believe that the honorable mayor and council are doing what’s best for the residents. Again, it’s OK to splurge within reason, but I would like to be assured that the new “city-light” does not wish to have its sugary cake and eat it too.