Wednesday, October 26, 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.

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