Friday, November 4, 2011

A Response to NO Information from a Peachtree Corners Neighbor

This is an item we received from a neighbor who took some time and thought to respond to the negative city information that has been floating around in e-mails and illegally taped to mailboxes. Enjoy!

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary ...***

( With apologies to Thomas …)

A sidebar item:

FIRST:  I believe there is no perfect answer / solution to the “city” dilemma.

It’s a matter of shades of incremental grey…

NOW ….

Why I chose to SUPPORT the city concept.

Let’s start with the NO CITY flyer you recently had attached to your mailbox and address some of the “information” they provided. Candidly, it was better / fairer than anticipated but still misleading or at least incomplete on a few points. I prefer not address every line item. I accept some of their premises, also.

Here goes:

If approved – the city becomes the largest city in the county. Bravo. I think this point actually SUPPORTS the premise. Critical mass helps in gaining political outcomes and in promoting economies of scale if there are any to be garnered. (size matters!)

There will be a 1 mil tax increase and ad valorem taxes will rise. The estimate given is $120 / 300,000 of appraised value per home. The last time I had my gutters cleaned it cost me about $90 and I sometimes do it twice in a year. Your cable bill makes this look silly. Is this REALLY an objection? I prefer to look at the flip side – you get an energized group of local advocates who passionately care about how this neighborhood/city works… all for less than cost of your gutters being kept clean. You can’t BUY that kind of representation/support.

Speaking of cable –

The city will also collect franchise fees on your current utilities. ( telephone, cable, gas, electric).

THIS IS FLAT OUT MISLEADING. The flyer conveniently leaves out all of the these fees are ALREADY being collected and turned over to….. are you ready …. OTHER CITIES. Truth be told … now OUR CITY will get IT’S fair share of these fees and presumably will spend them here rather than elsewhere. HENCE, this is an ASSET. The fees you already pay will not change. TELL ME HOW THAT IS A PROBLEM!?

The city “only” plans to offer three services. < zoning, code enforcement, trash>

DUH! That’s the POINT of a limited city. The law demands they offer at least three services to qualify as a “city”. They have studied the services that the county provides and specifically chosen the most COST EFFECTIVE ones to absorb. I would call that good governance. For instance, taking over the maintenance of Parks and Recreation would be excessive / expensive.

The city will establish a court and enforce the codes. YES, sort of. My understanding is it is likely to have a judge on “contract basis” working out of some limited office space for minimal enforcement. I will agree however, that the this is one area where “costs” could run more than anticipated.

The city can incur debt. SO WHAT? The county can incur debt …

HERE is the dirty little secret the flyer does not want you to understand / know about. THIS city charter has a provision it that limits the tax increases that can be projected on us … at the one mill level. The city in and of itself CANNOT simply increase taxes on us without an act at the state legislature or a local vote. WE ARE THE ONLY CITY IN GEORGIA TO INCORPORATE THIS FUNCTION IN THE CHARTER. It’s NOT perfect, but it’s clear to me that the people behind the city recognize the tax issues for what they are and have gone above and beyond to address it to the point that we have more protection against tax increases than ANY city including John’s Creek, Sandy Springs, etc.

Trash service will be billed separately on your taxes as it is now. SO?

Who needs another bill in their mailbox? You will not be paying twice … is that what they were trying to infer????

The city doesn’t have a “trash plan”… they just hope they can negotiate a better deal.

You can’t negotiate on behalf of the city… it hasn’t been created yet! They have simply “shopped”. I personally question how long and at what cost it may incur as to their ability to “break” or get out of the current county agreement, but ultimately it will happen.

It appears there are some minor advantages and there should be as we have VERY dense neighborhood garbage truck runs. There SHOULD be some value / economies of scale.

You can’t be annexed without a petition and/or a vote.

I’ll presume that’s true. But examine what that DOESN’T address. Years ago Norcross wanted to annex Technology Park. They wanted the lucrative business tax base. It’s not clear to me what parcels I DO get a vote on and where those lines are drawn. Certainly I can vote not to annex MY home, but when it comes to taking away some of the surrounding area parcels that help pay my county taxes, I’m not so sure I’d be offered a chance to participate or have any legal protections. The result could easily be YOU end up in unincorporated Gwinnett and find yourself having to carry the tax load while other areas encroach / take away things that used to contribute to your benefit. CHANGE HAPPENS.


Three things come to mind when I look at this vote.

I’ve been here for 25 years and things do change. The county HAS worked well, but even it is struggling to manage the size scope and scale of hundreds of thousands new residents. Dacula, Snellville, Lawrenceville residents really don’t care a hoot about what goes on in the very southwest corner of the county. I’ve watched other communities lose control. Drive down ANY former artery in ATLANTA . . . . say Buford HWY. , Roswell Road, Memorial Drive, Scenic HWY in Snellville. Going local / smaller for a reasonable amount of tax exposure seems like a bargain to me. Getting a local passionate group monitoring things has its upside. YES, sometimes I’ll disagree with THEM, too. BUT, they will be far more addressable on a small local level, too. I’m not fear mongering. I’m living in the moment, and the moment suggests to me that the size, scale, scope is worthy of considering.

Some suggest that creating a city will only lead to more and more government and hence more and more taxes. I believe THAT is partially fear mongering. The charter has contemplated and brought in reasonable items to address that to the extent we are now THE MODEL charter if so approved.

MARKETING: for what it is worth, I DO believe that “peachtree corners” as an address / city has some merit in terms of marketing. The world is run by “data” / the web. Once the city becomes legitimate, there will be compilations of exactly what we are and right now on paper we look better than the average parcel of unincorporated GWINNETT. I don’t think it SHOULD matter, but I KNOW it DOES matter. The “name brand” will sell and that helps all of us.

I’m not on any committee nor did I advocate any formal position for this city thing to take place.

I’m just homeowner like you.

There are websites ( ) and meetings to discuss this.  

That’s all folks ….

Enjoy your day and remember to vote.

Edward A. Thayer

*** Recently a neighbor of mine sent me and a few close friends/ other neighbors an email discussing why he was NOT supporting the “city” concept. Then I also recently received a flyer attached to my mailbox outlining some information advanced from a group that is seemingly is responsible for the “no city” concept / signs. This is my response. It is a personal understanding that I am willing to share and debate with reasonable people. I hope you enjoyed the thinking exercise.

Peachtree Corners – The Real Facts about Cost

There has been much discussion about how much the city will cost. We address each point below. The numbers are from the feasibility study done by the Carl Vinson Institute. These numbers are not a budget, but were used only to determine if the City of Peachtree Corners would be financially viable.

The possible revenue from property and ad valorum taxes is $2,000,000. The possible revenue from the franchise fees is $1,000,000. For the record, you are already paying these franchise fees. That is a total possible revenue stream of $3,000,000.

Now that study was done back in 2009. There has been some depreciation in our home values. Even if our property values dropped by as much as 30%, we could still raise $1.5 million from property taxes. And the lesson learned from Dunwoody is that the impact of franchise fees may more than double, with estimates of up to $2.5 million. Any way you cut it, these are significant revenues.

The worst cost estimate of annual expenditures from the feasibility study is less than $800,000. Possible revenues are more than three times the worst case cost scenario. It may be possible in the long run to fund the city operations completely through franchise fees.

Now to address the misunderstandings.

Initially property taxes will increase by one mill for all residential and business properties:

While property taxes will increase, it is unlikely that they will go up anywhere close to the legal limit. The Mayor and City Council will set the rate. Because the possible revenues far exceed the anticipated costs, it is likely that the rate will be set much lower than 1 mill.

1.     Business taxes and fees support residential services. If not enough businesses stay in PC, the City will likely borrow to make ends meet and then call for a tax increase vote..

The combined effect of the loss of revenue from businesses that may be annexed prior to when the city stands up is not significant.  Given that we may be able to fund the city entirely through franchise fees, there will be no need for any tax increase.

2.     The charter authorizes PC City to add-on to ad valorem tax for vehicles, boats, trailers, motorcycles, etc.

That is true.

3.     Franchise fees on utilities can and will be increased.

Franchise fees are regulated by the state. The city cannot arbitrarily increase these fees. There is one possible increase we may experience. Georgia Power has a tiered fee system Unincorporated areas of the county are charged 1.0801% of electric usage while incorporated areas are charged at a rate of 2.9109%. This only applies if there is an agreement between the city and the power company. As there will be no agreement to start, there will not be an immediate change in the rate. You can see the information here
4.     These increased costs to local businesses would be passed along in the form of higher prices to us.

Actually, we pay the franchise fee to these businesses and they pass the fees on to those areas that are qualified to receive them. No higher prices!

5.     There is no new garbage plan contract guaranteeing a lower price. There is a hope it can become cheaper.

We know that trash pickup costs are directly related to the number of trucks required, the distance between stops, number of employees needed, and gas. The county took the costs for disparate areas and averaged them over the county. That means that densely populated areas like Peachtree Corners are subsidizing the areas with fewer homes and more distance between them. Our trash cost will likely be less than the county cost just because of our demographics.

6.     Once the City incorporates, it must negotiate a Service Delivery Strategy (SDS) with the County.  There is no County tax relief for Redundant services.

Actually, the county is required to provide the services we will not at the same cost as it provides these services to unincorporated Gwinnett. What SDS does is identify those tax dollars that county is collecting for services the cities provide and rebate them back to the cities.

The charter gives the city council the rights to set fees, assessments, and to issue debt bonds.  It reserves the right to spend money with impunity and we have seen what happens when a government can spend at will without the means to fund it—big debt.   The city will need buildings, IT infrastructure, employees, employee benefits including retirement, legal council and more to operate.  We already b\ought these things once for the County.  Why buy them again for a city?

The City Charter gives the city government the same rights and powers as any other municipality. Our government is limited to three services. If the “rights” are not required to provide these services, the “rights” cannot be exercised. In government today, any persons spending “with impunity” without the will of the people will be voted out of office at the next opportunity.

The government will not need “buildings”. There is ample space for lease right here in Peachtree Corners. Why would the city build another building when the goal is to populate the existing businesses?

The Mayor and City Council are part-time positions. They will not be eligible for pensions. There may be two employees, a city manager and a city clerk. There are good 401K-type retirement plans available that would be used for retirement. No unfunded pension liability.

For the record, Dunwoody is a full service city. They have only 5 full time employees and lease space for city operations.

The IT infrastructure, legal counsel, municipal court, code enforcement, etc. can be contracted out. That allows for flexibility.

In the long run, we may actually be able to run the city with the current services on franchise fees alone once a reserve is established.

Get the real facts. Vote YES November 8th!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Peachtree Corners – The Real Facts about the Growth of Services

Here is another misconception, that the city will grow services easily and that all kinds of extra “stuff” will be added.

The proposed city does have a limited number of services it will offer to start.  But the charter allows for easy growth beyond that.  It discusses buying buildings and land, creating parks, hiring personnel, and entering into contracts as the officers deem necessary.  In fact the feasibility study anticipates the need to create a municipal court, hire a judge, and provide infrastructure to hear cases under the new city power of code enforcement.  The study states that most municipal courts derive only 2-4% of revenues from code enforcement fines so to cover operating cost of the court additional jurisdiction would need to be granted.  Ask yourself a simple question about our community—Are there massive problems with the maintenance or aesthetics of property that can only be solved through a new city bureaucracy and guys writing tickets or making arrests?

Let’s break this down point by point.

The proposed city does have a limited number of services it will offer to start. 

That is true.

But the charter allows for easy growth beyond that.

If they are referring to services, like Police or Parks and Recreation, that is false. The City Council has to vote to present a referendum to the citizens of the city. That referendum than must pass in a vote. Plus, if that service requires an increase in the millage rate, the charter must be amended and submitted to the legislature for approval. It is not easy to grow the services.

It discusses buying buildings and land, creating parks, hiring personnel, and entering into contracts as the officers deem necessary.

The charter, in listing powers, enumerates all the powers a city can exercise. However, our powers are limited by the three services we will provide: Planning and zoning, Code Compliance and Solid Waste Disposal. With that premise, we can address the remaining points.

The city will be able to buy buildings and land. It is anticipated that all we would need is office space and an area to hold City Council meetings. There is ample space available for lease. No need to buy anything.

The city is not authorized to provide parks under the three services, so unless the voters choose to add parks to the authorized services, we cannot create parks.

The city can hire personnel to carry out the tasks required to provide the services. Any city can do that. We are no different. You cannot provide services without personnel. The feasibility study calls for a full time city manager and part-time clerk. The remainder would likely be contracted out to allow for flexibility and reduce overhead.

Entering into contracts is a standard power and is required in order to run the city services, like contracting with a trash hauler.

In fact the feasibility study anticipates the need to create a municipal court, hire a judge, and provide infrastructure to hear cases under the new city power of code enforcement.  The study states that most municipal courts derive only 2-4% of revenues from code enforcement fines so to cover operating cost of the court additional jurisdiction would need to be granted.

We do not need to “create” a municipal court or hire a judge in order to hear code enforcement cases. This can be handled by contracting with a neighboring municipality or even the county. We set the standards, we identify the issues and the cases are heard in existing courts. Sandy Springs, a full service city, only holds municipal court two or three days a week. We may need to contract for a day or two a month, maybe less after the initial violation list is taken care of. Our municipal court will generate 100% of its revenue from Code Compliance cases. The feasibility study indicated that the court would be self-funded. No need to grant “additional jurisdiction”.

Are there massive problems with the maintenance or aesthetics of property that can only be solved through a new city bureaucracy and guys writing tickets or making arrests?

There are not massive problems yet. But we need to act now to prevent them. Many areas of Peachtree Corners are beginning to go into decline. The area along Holcomb Bridge Road used to be bustling and vibrant. Sturbridge Square used to be a good place to live. By brining these areas into the city boundaries, we can prevent further decline and begin improve those areas that need it. With Code Compliance, arrests are very rare and generally only for contempt of court.

So city services are not easy to add. Many of the powers listed are required to provide the services. Those powers not required to provide services cannot be exercised. We do not need to create a municipal court or hire a judge in order to prosecute Code Compliance violations.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Real Facts about the Sturbridge Square Rezoning Request

There is a post on the Vote No blog sites about the Sturbridge Square/Wal-Mart rezoning request.  We want to present the real facts about this issue.

The original application was for a 152,000 square foot "big box" type retail anchor with about 30,000 square feet of smaller retail in strip type footprint supported with 692 parking spaces. The applicant had developed for Wal-Mart in the past and was working independently on speculation that Wal-Mart would agree to lease the "big-box".  The County was not informed that Wal-Mart would have been the tenant so any denial was not based on opposition to Wal-Mart.

The developers walked away from the project. We don’t know what caused them to do so. There were a number of reasons that could have caused them to abandon this project. These include problems with the topography, traffic signaling, stream buffer and flood plan problems. Access from Jimmy Carter Blvd. would have required a bridge and a reorientation of the building. The architectural requirements of the Peachtree Corners Overlay District added costs to the project. And at least two homeowners associations were opposed. All of these combined may have deterred the developers.

However, even though the project was abandoned, the application for rezoning of the Sturbridge Square property from RM to C-2 was legally filed and advertised, which means that it could not be withdrawn and had to follow the public hearing process to conclusion, even though the project had been abandoned. Therefore, both the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners heard the application in an advertised public hearing. The results were: Planning Commission recommended denial of the application and the Board of Commissioners voted to deny.

In any case, the developers representing Wal-Mart did not “shelve” their plans because “The Gwinnett planning board disagreed”. They abandoned the plan well before they had a hearing before the Planning Commission. There will be no additional litigation of this particular zoning issue.

Adopting the Gwinnett County zoning ordinances upon initially forming the City and then careful modification by the City Council is the best approach to limit legal challenges and win those that do occur, reasonably quickly. Creating a Peachtree Corners Master Plan identifies areas where the community wants development and those areas that are not available.

Monday, October 31, 2011

More "Fact" Checking

We are hearing more and more misinformation from the NO City people. Now we find the following distortions being presented as facts. We respond with the Real Facts.

Still Undecided? Nine Things to Consider

1) Your Taxes will definitely be higher. Based on the feasibility study, that we are now supposed to ignore, the average homeowner in Peachtree Corners will pay several hundred dollars in additional taxes and fees for goods and services we already pay for and receive from the county.

FACT: The purpose of the Feasibility Study was to determine if the city would be financially viable. It is not intended to be a budget. The Mayor and City Council will create a budget based on facts once we become a city. The Feasibility Study did show that worst case costs were less than $800,000. Also, potential sources of revenue were over $3,000,000. Franchise Fees, that we already pay, comprised $1,000,000. The revenue estimates were conservative. It is clear that it may be possible in the long run to finance the services we have chosen just through Franchise Fees. It is also clear that we will not need a full mill of tax to finance city activities.

See the addendum at the end for calculating your possible out of pocket costs.

2) Your Trash Hauler's rate from the city likely wont (sic) be any less than you are paying now, since the YES side anounced (sic) they have no idea if they can get it cheaper or not.

FACT: We know that there will be at least some savings on trash based on the density of the Peachtree Corners population. It is less expensive to do trash pickup here as it requires less gas, trucks and personnel. The county averaged the high cost areas in with the low cost areas. So we are now subsidizing the less dense areas of the county. So while we won’t know the actual cost until our elected officials negotiate the contract, common sense dictates there will be savings.

3) No one can Annex your property unless you have 2 agreeing parties. This is Georgia Law. If Norcross wanted to annex Peachtree Corners, they would have done it back in the 80'-90's when this area's technology boom was happening.

FACT: Go to the GA Municipal Association Web Site and read the facts. Five ways to annex. Only one absolutely requires a vote, Resolution and Referendum Method. One may require a vote depending on the makeup of the types of property, Local Legislation Method. Two only require requests to be annexed. The 100 Percent Method is as implied, all must request to be annexed. But the 60 Percent Method allows you to be annexed if 60% or more of your neighbors choose to be annexed. You don’t have a choice under that circumstance. Last is the Annexation of Unincorporated Islands. No vote required.

4) Code enforcement will be outsourced to a company that compensates their employees on a commission basis. If modeled after the other surrounding cities, it will be a primary source of revenue for the new city, and a nightmare to all residents. Ask some friends in John's Creek and Berkeley Lake.

FACT: First, our elected officials will decide, with input from the community, how code enforcement will work. It is expected that it will be contracted out because we may need more enforcement to start than later on. Contracting this allows us to shrink this work force as the need decreases. We did some research on the reports from John’s Creek. There is no evidence of “nightmares” there.
We did have one gentleman speak at a meeting to the compliance issue. There is an apartment complex along Winters Chapel Road that is in Dunwoody. It was falling into disrepair and littered with trash. This gentleman complained about the fact the owner of these apartments now had to take out a loan to fix the problem. If that is the “nightmare” referred to, we can all probably agree that if the owner had properly maintained that property all along, no loans would be required now. In general, if a property owner demonstrates good faith and addresses the issue in a timely fashion, many fines are waived. You have the additional protection of easy access to your representatives if you feel that you were cited improperly.

5) Property values will still be based on economic conditions. Until the economy improves we will not see a change.

FACT: We will probably not see an immediate uptick in property values. However, long term, our values will be enhanced.

6) No one on the Peachtree Corners Ballot Committee stands to gain anything financial, The other side cannot say that. The proposed salaries have already gone up and we haven't even gone to the polls yet. What will happen if they are elected?

FACT: No one on the Peachtree Corners Yes side stands to gain financially either. What the logic is for this statement is unclear. As stated earlier, the feasibility Study was not a budget. The amount for these salaries was based on an extrapolation from other cities in the areas. The decision was made when the charter was finalized to allow the Mayor $9,000 and the City Council members $8,000 per year, before tax. Any council member who tries to raise their salary would likely be voted out of office at the next election. Given the amount of time these folks will be spending serving the city, this will probably work out to be below the minimum wage rate. How anyone can believe this amounts to “financial gain”, well ….

7) The Charter allows the new city to impose additional taxes, assesments (sic), and other fees, without going to a vote to the taxpayers. It's all in the Charter and feasibility study (that they want you to ignore).

FACT: The Feasibility Study specifically states the Business License and other fees will still be collected by the county. The city will not receive these. As stated earlier, the city is expected to be able to fund most, if not all operations from Franchise fees. There would be no reason to have to resort to any other fees or taxes. Just because a power is listed in the Charter does not mean that the city is allowed to exercise it if it is not required in the context of the services we will provide.

8) Our community leaders (sic) definition of "self determination" (sic) is for their own self, not yours. As Thomas Jefferson warned, "It is the nature of government to grow." Before the election, they talk of "self determination"(sic) after the election it will be "selfish determination".

FACT: Our government can only grow as a result of a referendum by the citizens of Peachtree Corners. We want the right to determine the quality of life we want in our own community. If that is “Selfish determination”, then so be it.

9) Voting "NO" is not only an option, it's a right. It's your choice, it's your right. Exercise your right.

FACT: Of course you can vote NO. This argument is just silly. If you truly believe that Peachtree Corners 10 years from now will be exactly like Peachtree Corners is today, then do vote No. It is your right. But if you believe we can be better than we are today and want to see improvement over time, than you should vote YES!

Nine Things to Consider: Posted By: Louie

Rebuttal: Posted by Jeanne

Addendum: What will my new taxes be?

At one mill, if you have a house assessed at $300,000, you will pay $120. If you have 2 cars with a combined assessed value of $60,000, your additional ad valorum tax would be $60 at 1 mill. The only possible increase in Franchise Fees would be on your electric bill of just under 2%. That will only occur if the city decides to enter into an agreement with GA Power (see the GA Power Bill Estimator). If your annual electric bill is $2,000, then the
possible increase would be $40. So the total possible increase for this homeowner could be $220 of which $180 is in taxes, not several hundred dollars.

Let’s look at this same homeowner if the rate is set at ½ mill. Property taxes will be $60 per year, ad valorum would be $30. If the Franchise Fee agreement is set with GA Power, then the max additional out of pocket would be $130.

To calculate your own increase, here is how to do it. Look at you tax bill. You can use your appraised value times $40 divided by $100,000 to get you property tax. Or take your assessed value times .001. For your ad valorum, look at your tag bills. Total the assessed amount and multiply by.001. Then get your total annual electric bill. Multiply that total by .02. That is your absolute maximum out of pocket.
If you look at ½ mill, use $20 per $100,000 and .0005 times your vehicle assessed value. That will likely be closer to what you can expect to see.

It is possible that some of this will be offset by some saving in trash pickup. Folks who currently pay the $10 per month for yard waste pickup should see a savings of $120 as every estimate we have gotten includes yard waste pickup at no additional cost.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Peachtree Corners – The Real Facts about Annexation

There have been some who have stated that annexation of commercial properties is not an issue. That annexation is not occurring. And that annexation can only be successful if we have a vote. We want to address and correct this misconception.

Here is a statement made by some who oppose the city. “Under GA code, there are 5 ways that a community might be annexed by a nearby municipality.  The first 4 require a vote by the residents to be annexed.  The last is the only way lands can be annexed without a vote by the residents.  But it only applies to areas of unincorporated land completely surrounded by an existing municipality and thus it does not apply to us.

The facts are here. Actually, only one method requires a “vote”, Resolution and Referendum. The Local Legislation method only requires a referendum if the area being annexed contains more than 50% residential property (by acreage) AND includes a population exceeding 30% of the city population or 500 persons, whichever is less. So annexation by legislation can include residential property, no vote required.

Then there are two methods that require some level of agreement from those being annexed. The 100 Percent method requires all to agree to be annexed and is available only in areas contiguous to the city. This is the method Norcross has used to annex the Holiday Inn, a bank and 2 other properties.

Berkeley Lake is using the 60 - 40 Percent method in the area between Peachtree Industrial and South Old Peachtree, on the east side. Based on an open records request, we found that 14 properties have requested to be annexed, from the Berkeley Lake/Duluth border all the way south to the Dairy Queen. These properties clearly are not all contiguous to Berkeley Lake. In fact, there are gaps where properties have declined to be annexed. But they can be annexed provided that the owners of not less than 60% of the land area (by acreage) agree to be annexed. For residential property, it requires 60% of the resident voters in the area to submit the request. If there is a mix of uses, both conditions are applied.

By using this method, Berkeley Lake will also be annexing the West Gwinnett Water Park. Why is this an issue? They have no record for running parks and recreation areas, unless you count their management of the dam on their lake. Also, the park pays storm water fees to the county that go to maintain the county wide storm water infrastructure. These fees will be lost to the county. If they annex all the way to the Dairy Queen, they will also annex Pinckneyville Park.

Using the 60-40 method, Duluth has annexed all of Blue Ridge Industrial Park. Only 9 of the 13 owners agreed to be annexed. However, they represented 72% of the land area. So the remaining 4 properties are now part of Duluth, without their consent.

The annexation of Peachtree Corners commercial properties has begun. Norcross and Berkeley Lake continue to pursue the annexation option. Duluth was successful in obtaining the properties they wanted. So while our neighboring cities are not going for residential property at this time, if these annexations continue, they will be able to exercise the final annexation method, Annexation of Unincorporated Islands. No vote required here. As businesses around us are annexed, what is left of Peachtree Corners become isolated islands and can be annexed unilaterally.

How can we stop this? Vote YES to the City of Peachtree Corners on November 8th.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Myths and Facts......... a rebuttal

Myth busters – a rebuttal
The Peachtree Corners Ballot Committee (the primary NO organization) has recently been distributing an article about the “Myths and Facts of Peachtree Corners”. Their article lists eleven “Myths and Facts” that they claim Peachtree Corners Yes (the primary YES organization) has been spreading as reasons to vote Yes on November 8th. The reality is that most of these “myths and facts” are simply straw man arguments that the Peachtree Corners Ballot Committee has made up on their own so they could knock down. Read below and note that the reality of each situation is in Bold.

“The Myths and Facts about the City of Peachtree Corners”

In discussing the pros and cons of Peachtree Corners becoming a city, residents have given many reasons for and against becoming an incorporated city. But how many of these are not valid reasons for becoming a city?

Myth #1. “We will have more police protection.”
Not true. Fire and police protection will remain the responsibility of Gwinnett County, as they always have. Unless residents vote later to take responsibility for police protection, and vote themselves taxes 5 to 6 or more times the projected city rate of 1.0 mills, this will not change.
Additional Police protection has NEVER been promised as a result of incorporation.
Existing levels of police protection are expected to continue.

Myth #2. “We can have Peachtree Corners as a mailing address.”
If you live in 30092, you can do that now. In fact the post office is in Peachtree Corners, Georgia,.
How is this a myth if you can already use Peachtree Corners for a mailing address??? The reality is that you can use any city you want for your address and as long as the zip code is correct the mail will get delivered correctly.

Myth 3. “I will vote for it because of the schools and the kids.
Becoming a city has nothing to do with schools or children. Gwinnett County will continue to provide public education, as they do in every city except Buford which has always had its own school system.
Changes to the schools has NEVER been promised or proposed as part of the cityhood initiative.

Myth #4. “More sidewalks.”

Not true. Roads and sidewalks will continue to be handled by Gwinnett County.
Again, improvements to roads and sidewalks has NEVER been promised or proposed as part of the cityhood initiative.

Myth #5. “It will keep the taxes down.”
Not true. Taxes will be raised not only for property taxes, but ad valorem on cars as well, plus franchise fees and a 2% tax on power bills, which we do not have now.

No promise has been made on taxes other than the Charter will ALLOW an increase of UP TO 1 mil. The reality is that franchise fees are already being paid by you to both governmental and corporate entities outside of Peachtree Corners. The only thing accurate in the above assertion is that you would pay for a 2% increase on your power bill – about $40 for a 3000 sq ft house that has an annual $2000 per year power bill. Dunwoody currently generates about $3.1M in franchise fees for a population of 46k. Peachtree Corners should be able to easily generate $2.0M to $2.5M in franchise fees with a population of 38k. Expenses for the new city are estimated at about $0.8M ($800k). Franchise fees alone should generate a significant surplus and as already stated YOU ARE ALREADY PAYING THESE FEES.

Myth #6. “It will keep out development and businesses we don’t want.”
This is nebulous and debatable. Zoning in place cannot change and current county zoning is totally adequate.

Current zoning decisions will be grandfathered in but once the new city is in place new zoning opportunities will be determined by the city. If you believe “current county zoning is adequate” then you must believe that development decisions over the last forty years that brought us the current state of Holcomb Bridge, Pleasant Hill, US 78, Beaver Ruin, Buford Highway, Peachtree Industrial (especially south of the split) and even parts of Peachtree Parkway were all wise, forward looking decisions. Ask yourself? Can we do better than this? Are you happy with the state of these commercial strips?

Myth #7.“It will raise our home values.”
Pure speculation. The economy, the home itself and location determine home prices.

The vast majority of real estate agents in our area believe this indeed will increase home values. These are people have worked in real estate for decades and know what customers are looking for. Common sense dictates that if an area is able to discourage undesirable development and encourage desirable development that people will pay more to live there. Have you ever seen an ad that said “cute Cape Cod located near a store that buys and sells gold”? Of course not because people don’t want to live next to one or near one. Zoning, Code Enforcement and Planning can help bring about higher quality development.
Think about it this way. On a $300k house just a ONE PERCENT increase in home value will generate a $3k increase to your net worth. Is paying 2% more on your power bill (about $40 per year) worth an extra $3k in net worth?

Myth #8. “Voting No is no option.
Of course it is.
Are you serious? Everyone knows that people have the option to vote No. This was not meant literally.

Myth #9. “Peachtree Corners will disappear if we are not a city.”
Of course not.
The reality is that trends over the last forty years, and especially the last ten, show that surrounding cities are aggressively annexing surrounding areas. This is not a scare tactic. This is reality. A recent research paper summarizing over 100 academic studies about why cities incorporate in the US over the last fifty years described neighboring cities views toward unincorporated territory (i.e. Peachtree Corners) as follows….
municipalities can be almost predatory in their stance toward neighboring unincorporated territories. they perceive adjoining land as part of their potential future economic base and thus, often seek to annex it. These municipalities are described as monopoly-like in their behavior.
This threat is real. Anyone who says it does not is fooling themselves. Fifty years of data from across the country cannot be refuted. If we do nothing it will happen eventually.

Myth #10. “Vacant buildings will fill up.”
Really. How would this happen?
No one has claimed vacant buildings would fill out. However, logic dictates that as zoning decisions and code enforcement improve our quality of life and by extension the financial viability of our area due to the improved stability brought by local control that companies would be more interested in locating to our area.

Myth #11. “We will be annexed into Norcross.”
Not unless a majority of residents vote to do this.

See above the response to Myth #9. The annexation might not happen next year or even in five years but studies done over the last fifty years about incorporation and annexation show that annexation is indeed inevitable at some point. To say otherwise is to refute massive amounts of data and research done across the country about situations just like ours.

Myth #12. “We will get away from Gwinnett County.”
Not true. Gwinnett County will continue to provide all services except planning and zoning, trash collection and code enforcement. County taxes will not go down/
No one ever said voting yes would do anything except the new city providing trash, zoning and code enforcement instead of the county. To say otherwise is simply not true.

Now, let’s look at the facts.

Fact #1. “Taxes will go up.”

VoteYes supporters admit this. City taxes are zero now and can be raised. The tax on power bills is zero now, it will go to 2%. Franchise and busienss license fees can and will be raised. Ad valorem taxes on vehicles will be raised.

Incorrect. The charter simply allows for an increase UP TO 1 mil. No tax increase is promised and in fact franchise fees will provide more than enough to cover estimated expenses. As stated earlier you are ALREADY paying all the estimated franchise fees with the exception of a 2% increase in your power bill – about $40 for a 3000 sq ft house paying an annual $2000 power bill.

Fact #2. “Another layer of government will be added.”

What is another layer of government if not a mayor, city council and dozens of city employees
Totally false. The word “layer” implies an additional hoop you have to jump through to get something done. This is not like the corporate world where a senior manager is placed between a manger and a director in the company food chain. The government does not work like that. This is instead simply bringing services CLOSER to the end user (the tax payer).
The new city will not have dozens of employees. The feasibility study estimates just a handful of full time employees would be needed. Most services can easily be contracted out. Look at what Dunwoody and Johns Creek do. They are full service cities and have very few employees because services are contracted out.

Fact # 3. “We don’t need a city.”
We don’t need a city because Gwinnett County performs all the services the new city would perform, with no increase in taxes.

“We don’t need a city” is an opinion not a fact. The people will decide on November 8th is they want a city.

Become an informed voter. Read the facts, and ignore the myths.

We agree here. Become an informed voter. The reality is that for minimal cost, or possibly even at a net financial impact to your wallet, we can gain control of our destiny. Ask yourself? Is Gwinnett better off than it was twenty years ago? Am I satisfied with the zoning decisions and pro-growth strategy that has resulted in choking traffic, over developed and declining commercial strips? If so, then you should vote no. If you think you and your neighbors can do a better job than vote YES.