Thursday, August 28, 2008

Following Up


I have a few thoughts in following up on Tuesday night's candidates' forum at Dunwoody United Methodist Church.

As I stated at the forum, the city of Dunwoody will be financially challenged from the start. Many residents don't understand how this is possible, after all, Dunwoody is among greater metropolitan Atlanta's most affluent areas. Here's why. Our millage rate is less than half that of Sandy Springs and some of the surrounding cities! What that means is, Dunwoody's revenue from taxes is limited. Even with the creation of the city of Dunwoody, the majority of our property taxes still will go to DeKalb County (predominantly, in the form of school taxes).

Bottom line, will we be better off as a city? No doubt. Just the control of our zoning alone will make us better off, especially as we look to the future. But be aware that there will be growing pains for the city in its infancy.

3 comments:

Thaddeus Osbourne Dabell (TOD) said...

"...the city of Dunwoody will be financially challenged from the start."

But will we be "morally challenged"? Cityhood was sold to the voters using the cries of "no taxation w/o representation" and "no tax increase without a vote".

Then, a careful reading of the Carl Vinson study, the only straw man budget presented by anyone before the referendum, shows we're lined up for an immediate tax increase. This will be levied by the City and collected by utilities, but it is no different than any other sales tax. The city chooses one way and money moves from my account to theirs. The other way and I keep my money. Of course that just what the city does to its citizens. A portion of the fee is paid by rate payers far from Dunwoody who will never have any representation in our city.

How can we be sure this is going to happen? First, the big kahouna of franchise fees, Georgia Power, was somewhat deceptively added to the 'other franchise fees' line item. Interestingly, cable fees, which are in decline, are listed separately, but GP fees, which are guaranteed to climb, are obfuscated. Second, these 'other franchise fees' represent $2.4 million, second only to property taxes.

Imagine how much more "financially challenged" we would be if we took the moral high ground.

So, if elected, would you support levying these taxes, hidden as 'fees' or would you fight that the principles on which Dunwoody is founded apply to all?

Bob Fiscella said...

TOD,

Fantastic post. I will tell you this - I was not a member of the Citizens for Dunwoody movement or the Dunwoody Yes campaign. I made no promises to anyone. You have not heard me say, "No new taxes." I looked at the initial CVI numbers and was very skeptical. That is part of why I am running. My only promise was and still is - to listen to the citizens of Dunwoody and then use my best judgement to make a decision. I am aware of the franchise fees you speak of, but I am delving deeper to learn more about them before making a decision. I know this is not the definitive answer you are looking for, but it is the best answer I can give.

Thaddeus Osbourne Dabell (TOD) said...

I agree that the CVIoG study did not provide adequate support for a truly informed decision. I believe a city will ultimately be beneficial, but unlike most I firmly believe we must shoulder our own load and we must be open and honest about doing so. It may well be that we should be paying 4 mills, not 2 to operate the city at the level we deserve. That's OK by me.

However, I do have problems with these franchise fees, not the least being that they appeal to the worst in politicians and civic leaders: a sneaky way to get money from taxpayers. Until recently this was completely clandestine, but as of January taxpayers' power bills include franchise fee line items.

At the same time this change was made the PSC shifted more of the franchise fee payment to the municipal citizens who benefit. This is a change I support and would like to see it become 100% paid by the municipality.

I have posted additional information, including links for independent research at http://theotherdunwoody.blogspot.com/2008/08/franchise-fees-101.html

Please take a few minutes (maybe more) and research the facts for yourself.