New City Council Gets $2.8 Million Wake-up Call

The public wants more open communication from the mayor and council.

A few weeks ago I wrote that one of the measures of success of the new City of Peachtree Corners would be how well it lived up to the campaign promises of open and transparent communication with residents. Apparently the mayor didn’t get the memo.

At the time I was writing that, the mayor and council were busy petitioning Gwinnett County for a moratorium on building permits, zoning changes and business licenses. The move wasn’t publicized ahead of time and the public had no chance to comment on the idea. The confusion and ill feelings caused by this were enough to cause the mayor to have to devote time during the next few meetings trying to explain it, followed by open letters in several forums. A little more communication beforehand might have prevented some of the confusion.

Last week the council was presented with a proposed budget of $2.87 Million…even the council members in attendance seemed shocked at a number that was nearly four times the $761,000 budget estimated by the feasibility study that all of them had campaigned on.  After some spirited discussion among the council, the mayor summarily dismissed the feasibility study by claiming it was never meant to be a budget, just a reference for the legislature. The consultants defended their proposed budget, including it’s $850,000 for reserves and contingencies, by saying it was the conservative thing to do. They also advocated levying the full 1 mil of property taxes allowed in order to cover this budget. Note to consultants: coming in four times over the expected budget and taxing at the full rate right out of the gate can be called a lot of things. Conservative isn’t one of them.

This week’s council meeting was attended by nearly 40 residents, many of whom wanted to address the mayor and council concerning the proposed budget. Much to their dismay, the city attorney advised the mayor that the agenda could not be amended to allow public comment, and the mayor acquiesced. Neither he nor the council, nor the consultants, mentioned the proposed budget during the remainder of the meeting.  Georgia’s open meetings laws are fairly specific as to what constitutes a meeting and how they must be advertised, but are generally silent on the subject of public input at such meetings. The level of public input is usually left up to the government entity in question.

I would urge the mayor to work with the city attorney to find a way to start providing more information to the public. The citizens want it, the council members want to provide it, and it might go a long way toward preventing more confusion and ill will.

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Rob June 07, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Frankly the $10/month for better government is a wonderful thought. Probably the same thought that school boards used to address under performing districts, maybe the same thought TSA had, insert another government effort. I hope that you are right, but there are few if any cases where throwing additional funds have proved helpful. What about Tsplost only a couple of pennies? Soon all those pennies add up. Let's be mindful of that.
Ali Stinson June 14, 2012 at 07:25 PM
The proposed city budget is now available on the PCBC website. www.peachtreecornersfacts.com
Jimmy Neese June 19, 2012 at 05:54 PM
When I stood up in the meetings and spoke in opposition to this. I told everyone in the meetings what was going to happen and it has. Mike assured me it was not, I just didn't realize it would come so fast. Mike has really shown his true colors. He is truly showing that he his headed to be a true politician. Do as you please and don't listen to the people of the community who pay your sallery. Just use your power and authority to do as the few around you want it done. Its headed out of control and he is driving the ship. Mike if its not true then try and stick to the budget. Don't tripple it before we get started. Looks like everyone is learning from Obama. Yea, It will all be open and transparent. Nothing is and it looks like we are following in his footprints. You can't start a new City which he has done and it not get out of control. I made that statement to you and again you assured me it won't happen. Mike it looks like its headed out. How can you be comfortable with a budget 3 times what you projected to us? Its totally disgusting and this is not the last of this type nonsense. I am sure it will only get worse.. IT TAKES MONEY TO OPEN AND RUN A NEW BUSINESS OR NEW CITY.THAT MONEY IS COMING FROM THE CITIZENS OF THIS COMMUNITY.You should have spent that money on making Gwinett do their job.It would have been a lot cheaper.Treat us with some respect. Our taxes won't go down in Gwinett it will just be added on to what we already pay.Get with program you started and stay.
Jimmy Neese June 19, 2012 at 06:02 PM
It won't stop at 10.00 I am sure of that and that's not negative. Its fact. Hey if I'm wrong tell me in 3 years and I'll eat Crow. It never stops tell Washington that and Gwinett. Too late to tell me I'm watching it in Action. Tripple the Budget 1st one. Nope tell me in three years. You will see when you are paying for that new court house. Its called EGO. They all have it.
Jimmy Neese June 19, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Better than that just name me one body of government not out of control. If they need more just go up on our taxes. I wish Icould do that but in private sector, it just doesn't work that way, just government officials that get more greedy. I'll wait for some one to name that body of government. There might be a few that have put a true blue conservative in the slot to stop it for a while. But it won't last long never does and never will. Its not their money they are spending its yours and mine. I've lived here for 62 years and watched it. Don't tell me give them a chance you give them an inch they will take a mile. I promise you your taxes will rise faster than you can even imagine. Its just sad. A City doesn't run on air. It takes money.


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