Monday, October 5, 2009

Learn About the Expansion at Dunwoody High; Update from Councilman Wittenstein

The Dunwoody High School Council design committee and DeKalb County School System will hold a neighborhood meeting Tuesday evening, 6:00 pm, October 6, 2009 in the school cafeteria for the purpose of briefing the neighbors on the plans for the addition to Dunwoody High School. The addition will bring a renovation of internal systems plus add additional classrooms and a new auditorium. The building will also have a new exterior treatment. Everyone is invited to attend. I hope to see you there.
Below is an update from Dunwoody City Councilman Robert Wittenstein.
Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,
October is budget month for the City of Dunwoody. On October 19th at 7pm at City Hall we will have a public hearing on the 2010 budget proposal. We will approve the budget a week later on October 26th. Budgets can be boring for some people but they are the most important way for us to set our priorities for the coming year.
We expect our revenue for 2010 to be about half a million dollars lower than 2009. This is primarily a timing issue. In December of 2009, we will collect over $2 million in franchise fees from Georgia Power. Our 2010 GA Power franchise fees won’t arrive at the city until early 2011 so we can’t include them in next year’s budget. To partially replace the GA Power franchise fees in 2010, we will be able to collect about $1.6 million in insurance premium taxes we earned in 2009 but that doesn’t get paid to us by the State until next year. The good news is that in 2011, we will be able to collect both sources of revenue and our income will jump.

Our 2010 budget proposal assumes the same property tax rate. I’m a little disappointed in that; I had hoped to make a small (5%) property tax rollback into the 2010 budget but the one-year gap in the GA Power franchise fees made that impractical. I promise to push harder for that millage rate tax rollback in 2011.

On the expense side, police service continues to be our largest expense, accounting for approximately one third of our budget. The current draft budget includes one additional detective and one additional officer who will join an area-wide narcotics task force. Not currently in the budget, but a source of a great deal of discussion, is Chief Grogan’s request for two additional patrol officers. Adding those two patrol officers would bring our sworn officer count to 44 and cost approximately $240,000. Several council members (Including me) have suggested we wait until our income increases in 2011 before adding additional patrol officers, but the council is anxious to support our police department so it isn’t clear which way this will get resolved.

A related item is a budget appropriation to conduct a feasibility study on switching from DeKalb’s 911 service to either our own Dunwoody 911 center or joining one or more of our near-by cities in a joint 911 center. I believe we can improve response time performance without increasing costs by joining Sandy Springs/Johns Creek or Chamblee or Doraville. I look forward to getting this study completed.

The budget proposal also includes a substantial amount of money for zoning and land use planning. We are setting aside $100,000 to start a multi-year process to completely rework our zoning code. When we incorporated in December of last year, we adopted DeKalb’s zoning code as a placeholder. In 2010 we will begin a massive rewrite to reflect what Dunwoody residents want and to begin to implement our newly minted 20-year Comprehensive Plan which will be adopted next Spring. We have also set aside $500,000 to complete master plans of Dunwoody Village and the Georgetown/Shallowford areas. These areas are ripe for redevelopment and the master plans will provide details to potential developers showing them exactly what the city would like to see (and will approve) for these commercial centers.

Our budget calls for over $1 million dollars to be spent on repaving our worst streets. Over the last several weeks a laser truck has driven over every mile of asphalt in Dunwoody and grading it. Late this year we will build a resurfacing plan and publish it. We will also commission a citywide transportation plan and fund engineering studies for two of our worst intersections: Mt. Vernon and Vermack and Tilly Mill and North Peachtree.

Finally, we have set aside funds to purchase and manage our parks if we can reach an agreement with DeKalb regarding the park turnover. At the moment I’m not optimistic that our ongoing discussions will yield an agreement quickly, but if they do, we will have money in the budget to operate the parks. If we don’t reach an agreement, that money can be reallocated elsewhere.

If you would like to view the budget, you can download it at this link (caution, it takes a while):
If you would like to learn more, or to comment, please come to our public hearing on October 19th, 7pm at City Hall.




Chip said...

Just wondering why District 1 has updates regularly from their Council representatives, yet our worthy District 2 Councilwoman and District 2 At-Large Councilman never seem to find time to let us in on what's happening in good ole District 2??

Maybe because nothing is happening in Good Ole District 2? Haven't Ms. Bonser and Mr. Ross been reading The Crier?

Just wondering

Bob Fiscella said...

I know Mrs. Bonser reads this blog, perhaps she will start a regular email update. I'll post it if she does.