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In 6-1 Vote City Council Approves Budget

Thursday night Peachtree Corners city leaders approved controversial $2.7 million budget without the support of one of its council members.

Updated: July 1, 2012

The amendments proposed by council member Jeanne Aulbach have been added to this article.

After three meetings and two public hearings the Peachtree Corners City Council approved its FY 2013 budget at Thursday's (June 28) Special Called Meeting held at the YMCA.

The $2.7 million budget had been a subject of controversy since it was first introduced. Many residents were aghast that a city that was to provide only three services would need that much to operate.

The final vote was 6-1 with Post 3 council member, Alex Wright, voting against the budget explaining, "I think we could have accomplished our goals with a little lower number than the $2.7 million."

Post 4 council member Jeanne Aulbach offered an amendment to the budget, that while did not reduce the bottom line, did soften the blow by recommending the reduction of several line items and moving the funds to the city's reserve fund.

The Council passed the amendment which reduced the budget in the following categories:

  • Call Center: Original budget $100,000, reduced to $60,000
  • Comprehensive Plan: Original budget: $100,000, reduced to $75,000
  • Website, Branding, etc: Original budget: $70,000, reduced to $60,000
  • Servers, Computers, etc: Original budget: $100,000, reduced to $75,000

"I wanted to put in place controls in the budget that would allow the reserve to be built up quickly but allow some flexibility for emergencies," she explained.

"We want to reassure the citizens of Peachtree Corners that we take our responsibility seriously that their money is spent wisely," she added.

Mayor Mike Mason also announced that after recalculating the expected property tax revenue, the millage rate, first expected to be at the full 1 millage rate would be reduced to .85 mils.

That translates that for a $250,000 home the reduction in millage rate lowers the property taxes from $10.00 to $8.50 per month.

Below is the amendments to the budget proposed by council member Jeanne Aulbach which were approved by the City Council.

Mid-Year Budget Review. In January of 2013, the City Council shall conduct a mid-year review of revenues and expenditures to date. The purpose of this review is to make any needed adjustments to the budget based on the best information available. At that time, any unused budget balances where the cost is knowable and is exceeded by the budgeted amount will be transferred to the Undesignated Reserve.

Zero-Based Budget for FY2014. When formulating the FY2014 Budget, the City Council will utilize a zero-based budgeting process.

Fund Balance Reserve. The City Council recognizes that best financial practices call for the creation of an undesignated fund balance reserve. The purpose of the fund balance reserve is  
to:

  1. Cover expenditures caused by unforeseen emergencies
  2. Provide an offset to shortfalls caused by a decline in revenues
  3. Eliminate short-term borrowing for cash flow purposes
  4. Serve as the basis for establishing a future rating by the credit agencies
  5. Utilized for other legitimate purposes determined by the City Council

Any funds not expended during the fiscal year shall automatically transfer to the fund balance reserve. Such funds shall be utilized for the purposes designated above only by a majority vote of the City Council.

Millage Rate Reset. When formulating the FY2014 Budget, the City Council will review the balance in reserves, the amount of revenue from property taxes and other revenue streams as well as expected expenses. If possible, the City Council will reduce the millage rate to reflect the amount necessary to make make up the difference between the other revenue streams, expected expenses and any contribution needed for reserves.

UHaveGotToBeKidding June 29, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Thank you Alex Wright for being a man of your word! You do represent the people of Peachtree Corners. It is refreshing to see one new Politician do what he says he is going to do.
UHaveGotToBeKidding June 29, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Jeanne Aulbach thank you for putting in some controls, but this comment is a little hard to believe, "We want to reassure the citizens of Peachtree Corners that we take our responsibility seriously that their money is spent wisely," she added. We have already questioned the budget and it has been kept the same. If you fool me once shame on you, but if you fool me twice shame on me. This is not going to happen again, you need to build the TRUST back the old fashion way.....with honesty!
Bob Ballagh June 29, 2012 at 09:48 PM
They could have done better. Bravo for Alex.
Ali Stinson June 30, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Thank you Alex. It is too bad you were the loan dissenter. We hope you can convince your fellow council members to vote more conservatively in the future.
Mary Beth June 30, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Thank you, Alex, for being the only responsible member on the council. We appreciate your sticking to your convictions. Keep up the good work!
karen h June 30, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Thank you Alex. I hope the Council holds themselves and the administrators they hire to spend only as legit demand requires vs in anticipation of unreasonable complaints regarding call answering on mundane issues that are not truly 24x7 urgent. Complaints regarding the budget line items sure had to be patient. While reductions were made in line item spending, we can do better, especially in salary and related benefits as well as the trappings of a heavier than city lite infrastructure.
Bill Lowe June 30, 2012 at 08:27 PM
If the City of Peachtree Corners will accept bids on the IT requirements from a company that is not in Gwinnett County, I feel very confident that my company can save you some significant money. $75k is a lot of money to spend when you have maybe 15 employees. Microsoft hosted Exchange is $4.00 a month per user. You can also use a cloud based file sharing/server for pretty cheap, depending on how much storage you need. Don't lease copiers, Buy a nice multi tray HP machine that prints up to 11 X 17. This single device for your scanning/printing/copying/faxing needs will cover your entire office, and is very easy to service. You do not have to spend a great deal of money per person to get good equipment. Do not overspend when you don't have to. Most office workers do just fine with a laptop that costs less than $500.00. Engineering people may need a little more punch, but that would be a stretch considering the services your city will be offering. Most of the new phone systems out there have automated attendent options that can take the place of the call center.....Redirecting to cell phones of the employees directly if you want someone to answer the phone all of the time. This can be done for a whole lot less than $60k. I'll even look over your IT expenses for free just to keep whoever you choose to do the work and make the purchases honest. My company name is NoBSConsulting, and we mean I.T.
Ed Stiles July 01, 2012 at 04:54 PM
First of all, a Thank You to Alex for voting NO to the UPCCA budget, at least you appear to hear the other registered voters. Too many members of the Council owe their allegiance to the UPCCA and not to the rest of the community. What we need to remember here concerning the alleged "reductions" in the budget is that prior to making these changes, the City Attorney was asked about adjusting budget items and indicated that changes could be made by a vote of the council. The specific question concerned the use of the Fund Balance and Contingency Reserves, they can be tapped by the council by a vote at any time. Remember, this money is still being collected, it's now in "reserve" instead of the actual budget. So I expect that now that the budget is passed, that the monies will be quietly moved back into the original categories by some obscure vote.
Ed Stiles July 01, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Bill, Three members of the City Council are involved in IT professionally in one fashion or another (according to their election pages). Yet when the presentation was made, nobody asked any questions of significance to the presenter. The City Attorney indicated that since this vendor already was doing business with another governmental agency, there would not be a need for an RFP, that they could do work based on an extension of the previous contractual agreement. I may not have stated this in precise legal terms, but the bottom line is that if you are already doing business with a state or local agency, you can use that as a basis for additional work without going through the full bidding procedure. Having been in IT and IT Security for the last 10 years, I agree with what you are saying about the costs and equipment needed. There appears to be a huge profit margin built into this proposal, however, copies of the proposal were only given out to the City Council, not to those of us in attendance, so I'm not really sure of what was being offered.
Bill Lowe July 03, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Thanks Ed. I have never made a profit on equipment or software purchases for clients. They are direct reimbursements. I do get a boatload of points on the credit card though. My money is made off of hourly rates or flat rate services. I do enjoy the way government conducts business. Seems almost too good to be true for those that are involved. I hate to turn over applecarts, but I will find one to turn over locally soon enough, and that is going to upset a lot of IT companies that are already doing business with another governmental agency. The prices need to be reset back to something reasonable where the contractor can still make money, provide a great service to the government, and save the taxpayers money.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew July 03, 2012 at 09:37 PM
NO Reasonable markups of 5 to 15 percent? Hmmmm...
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew July 03, 2012 at 09:39 PM
They just needed a "reserve" more than the residents thats all.
Bill Lowe July 03, 2012 at 11:02 PM
No markup. I don't do enough volume to get a significant discount on the purchase price of equipment and software and don't really want to collect and manage sales taxes. Markup on technology related equipment is not what it used to be.
Mike Smith July 06, 2012 at 02:03 AM
The city council did not let an RFP for any of the services. Every state and Federal government contract I have been involved with over the past 30+ years required a bidding process. The only way to sole source is if the vendor provides something that cannot be procured from any other vendor. Additionally the mayor keeps using the word perception, well in the business world I was taught 'perception is reality' especially when it is a customer that has the perception. And the voters are the customers in this case. PS. Has anyone noticed how Mike Mason keeps changing numbers? He said in one comment that based upon a $300,000 home the property tax would be $10 per month. And recently stated that he reduced this to $8.50 something cents per month based upon a $250,000 home, huh? Yeah Mike the tax on a $250,000 home would be lower than a $300,000 home. Stop talking down to the voters and do what you promised? Some how this feels like driving in my car with the windows closed and my trying to holler at the driver in the car that just cut me off. Neither one can hear me and neither cares whether they do. Everyone needs to remember the false promises when it is time to vote again.
Ed Stiles July 07, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Mike, The difference in numbers is the result of the difference in Property Tax revenues as reported by Gwinnett County. Initially Gwinnett estimated 1.7 million in revenue to the city, now they are estimating 2.3 million. As a result, Mayor Mike believes he can fund the City of UPCCA at .85 mils instead of 1 mil as originally estimated. Personally, I'm surprised at the change in revenue numbers, I would have believed the values went down, rather than up, within the city boundaries. And remember, this are estimates, who knows what the real numbers will be....
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew July 07, 2012 at 07:55 PM
By percentage, fewer property owners challenged assessments this time around, hence the slight uptick in available tax revenue.
Mike Smith July 08, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Ed, I understand your point but you missed my point. He changed the value of the example home. .85mil on a $300K home is going to be higher then .85mil on a $250K home.
Ed Stiles July 08, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Yes, I missed that.... Remember, you are dealing with an accounting professional, a CPA. They are capable of manipulating numbers as needed to meet their needs :) Too bad they didn't look at the Carl Vinson Report numbers and compare them with a real city, or maybe they did and decided the numbers didn't meet their political needs......
Judy Putnam (Editor) July 08, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Mr. Styles and Mr. Smith: Please allow me to set the record straight regarding the example on the home values. I chose to use $250,000 as an average home value in writing the story. I was not quoting the mayor.

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