A few weeks ago the city council was presented with a preliminary budget proposal totaling $2.87 million. The public reaction to this was predictably negative. After all, just last summer the man who would be mayor held numerous townhall meetings and sold the idea of a city-lite based on a Carl Vinson Institute feasibility study showing the new city could be run on a $761,000 budget. To give these claims more credibility, a number of local politicos were trotted out to endorse the plan. Following the incorporation vote in November, the council candidates all campaigned on that same $761,000 ‘city-lite’ budget.
Last week the city council was presented with the official itemized budget proposal and it came in at a still whopping $2.72 million. So what will we get for our $2.72 million? I’ll cover a few of the highlights, but you can read all the details here: http://www.peachtreecornersfacts.com/PeachtreeCorners_budget6-12.pdf
Among some necessary costs like rent for the city hall, there is over $130,000 for IT services which includes but is not limited to servers, routers, software licenses and laptops for city employees. There is $50,000 for office furniture for the new city hall and another $50,000 for signage. There is $30,000 in relocation expenses for the new city manager and another $25,000 to bolster his 401k retirement account. There is $300,000 worth of salaries for a city manager, planning and zoning manager, accounting manager and a city clerk. And last but not least, there is $100,000 for a call center. Despite the objections of council members, and against the recommendation of the consultants, the mayor was quoted in the AJC as saying that residents want “somebody to be there at a specific location to talk with. I heard you loud and clear.” I would respectfully suggest that the mayor get out and about town more often, because I haven’t met anyone yet who thinks it is a good idea to spend more than $8000 per month to have somebody answer the phone, especially when a majority of the calls will be forwarded to the county. After all, we’re a city-lite, offering only three services. Just how many calls is he expecting the city to receive?
Speaking of three services, you may notice in the laundry list of governmental goodies above there is no mention of code enforcement or trash service. Its all government infrastructure. Our budget is already at $2.72 million, the planned tax rate will be the full one mil maximum allowed by the charter, and we still have to contract out two of the three services we’re supposed to provide! Just how much more is this little ‘city-lite’ really going to cost us?
The budget will be the main subject of the next two council meetings, this Tuesday June 19th and next Tuesday, June 26th at 7:30pm at the YMCA on West Jones Bridge Road. Plan to attend and let your elected representatives know what you think about this budget proposal.