On Monday night the clubhouse of the Avocet subdivision was filled with nearly 50 Peachtree Corners residents who came to participate in a Town Hall Meeting hosted by council members Alex Wright (Post 3) and Jeanne Aulbach (Post 4).
It was a chance for residents to get their questions answered about such subjects as the city's budget, how the city would operate, trash pick up and other issues.
Wright and Aulbach spent the good part of an hour and a half answering queries by residents who were frustrated because, up until now, had not been able to ask their questions in a public setting and get the answers they were seeking.
"We're thrilled to see so many who wanted to talk with us," said Aulbach as she addressed the group and provided a recap of what the City Council has accomplished thus far:
- City Hall office space selected
- In process of searching for a City Manager
- Moratorium expected to be lifted before the end of the month
- Entered into intergovernmental agreement with county
- Established a fiscal year for the city
- Passed FY 2013 Budget
- In process of selecting a bank
- Holding Public Hearings this week to set millage rate
Aulbach also mentioned that the city is looking at selecting vendors to supply the services and will soon begin the process of establishing the city's long-range goals which are required by law.
Wright opened up the meeting to questions. The first query out of the gate was on the need for a call center. The subject has raised eyebrows among a number of residents who question whether a city that will only provide three services needs a call center at all.
Originally $100,000 had been budgeted, a revision was made and passed in the FY 2013 that reduces the line item to $60,000.
"What objective, subjective data was used to determine the cost of a call center," asked one resident.
"We just don't have enough information," answered Wright. "There are so many things to do that is not a priority right now." Wright said discussions on the call center have been tabled for now.
The budget was the next subject, with one resident asking the source of the city's revenue. Wright explained that property taxes would bring in an estimated $1.7 million and another $500,000 from franchise fees. The $500,000 identified as TAN (Tax Anticipation Note), is actually a short-term bank loan to keep the city operating until tax and franchise fees are collected.
Aulbach also pointed out that start up expenses outlined in the FY 2013 budget was a one-time occurance and that expense would not be in next year's budget.
Addressing Wright one resident asked, "You voted 'no' for the budget. Why?"
"In my view I thought we could accomplish the goals of the City Council with less money," Wright responded. "Although I voted no, I will stand behind the budget to make it work."
Aulbach said to the group, "Don't judge us on the budget, but how we're spending it. Just because it's in the budget doesn't mean it has to be spent."
The two council members answered questions on everything from trash, the city manager's salary, when signs showing the Peachtree Corners city limits would appear and whether the newly worded ordinance on Sexually Oriented Businesses were designed to get rid of the Love Shack.
But the subject of the budget came up several times during the meeting with one resident saying, "When this was sold to us [the city], it was $780,000, now it's $2.7 million," said Ed Stiles who said that he felt there was a "lot of inflation" in the budget.
"It seems the table on the right is making the decisions," said Stiles referring to the Acting City Attorney and the two Acting City Managers hired to help the city get on its feet. Addressing Aulbach and Wright, he added, "We hope you vet their decisions to suit Peachtree Corners."
Did you attend Monday night's town hall meeting? What were your impressions?
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