Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mayor objects to changes in FCDA board


By Pat Cooper

The makeup of the Fayette County Development Authority is coming under fire by Peachtree City councilmembers who don’t like the changes being recommended at the county level.
On the same day that the Fayette County Board of Commissioners appointed five new members to the FCDA to fill open places, Peachtree City Mayor Vanessa Fleisch came before the board- backed by city councilmen Mike King and Terry Franz - to ask them to reconsider plans to change the way the authority is populated.
During last week’s retreat, county attorney Dennis Davenport told the board that earlier agreements had established a
nine-member board for the FCDA. He explained that five members are appointed by the Board of Commissioners, and the other members are appointed by the City of Fayetteville, the Town of Tyrone, the Peachtree City Development Authority (PTCDA), and the Peachtree City Airport Authority (PTCAA).
Since the Peachtree City Development Authority had been disbanded, Davenport
needed to know how the commission wanted to fill the ninth position and how they should go about revising the Intergovernmental Agreement that covers those decisions.
The board wanted to revise the IGA to give the PTCAA position to the city of Peachtree City for their selection, and wanted the PTCDA position to revert back to a commission choice.
That would mean the FCDA would have six members appointed by the board of commissioners, one appointment from the City of Peachtree City, one appointment from the City of Fayetteville, and one appointment from the Town of Tyrone. Though there was no official vote, commissioners agreed in theory to the process.
On Thursday, the board appointed
Darryl Hicks, Pat Hinchey, Margaret Laton and Todd Strickland (former chairman of the Peachtree City Development Authority) to the board to take over from members whose terms had expired. Dennis Dorsey was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Randy Hayes, who had operated as the Authority’s chairman.
“I would like to request that the intergovernmental agreement related to the FCDA be amended to eliminate the representative from the PTCDA, which no longer exists, and be replaced with a citizen representative appointed by the Peachtree City mayor and city council.”
More than that, Fleisch wanted the representative from the PTCAA to remain on the FCDA.
“As you may know,” Fleisch told commission chairman Steve Brown, “and the other commissioners may not, the PTCAA is a separate governmental agency, chartered by state legislation, and is the sole owner of the airport itself.” Brown is a former mayor of Peachtree City.
“I am sure you will agree that Peachtree City, the geographic region, contributes significantly to the economic health of fayette County through our industrial park, which comprises 84 percent of the industrial land in fayette County. Peachtree City, the governmental agency, has demonstrated its commitment to economic development by directly providing a $75,000 staff position at the FCDA, namely the Business Retention and Expansion position. This is funded by Peachtree City taxpayers in addition to their contribution of roughly 33 percent ($82,500) of the $250,000 in funding that the Fayette County commission allocates to the FCDA.”
Fleisch also noted that the Atlanta Regional Airport-Falcon Field contributes an estimated $140 million to Fayette County and the region’s economy each year. As noted, they are a separate governmental agency, with a separate mission and separate customers from Peachtree City.
“It is difficult to imagine the FCDA achieving its highest potential level of success if the PTCAA is excluded.
“My hope is that the taxpayers of Peachtree City continue to received the full benefit of the supplemental funding they provide to the FCDA by having a voice in the operation of the authority and that the separate governmental agency that is the PTCAA, which is directly tied to the economic health and development of our county, retain its longstanding role in the FCDA. To exclude either agency from the FCDA is a disservice to the citizens of Fayette County.”
Additionally, PTCAA chairman Richard S. Whitely put forth his own support of the city stance in an email to the commission.
“The PTCAA board is united in its position that it will not voluntarily abdicate its seat on the FCDA board. The entire board feels strongly, as must have previous decision makers, that the airport is a key economic development driver for the entire county and therefore should have a seat on the development authority. Moreover, we do not believe that a Peachtree City seat and an airport authority seat should be mutually exclusive. Falcon Field is a county asset, that unlike most airports, and due to its outstanding management team, is self-supporting. We believe that arbitrarily removing the airport from the FCDA is unjustified, capricious, shortsighted and will have far reaching consequences for the county’s economic development.”


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