Saturday, June 18, 2011

Update From Councilman Shortal; Search for Superintendent

I received the following update from Councilman Denis Shortal late last evening.  The General has some interesting thoughts on a possible bond referendum that will increase our taxes by approximately 54 percent.  I agree with the general.  In this economy, I don't feel raising our taxes makes sense (it's rare when I ever think raising taxes is a good idea).  Yes, I want improved parks too, but on top of all the other tax increases that are about to hit, I sincerely hope Dunwoody doesn't decide to join the party!  According to the General, of the bond money raised, $55 million will go to directly to interest in paying off the bond.  I don't think that's the best use of our tax dollars.  Let's continue to treat every tax dollar like it is precious.

Good evening my fellow citizens. The following are some items of interesting on what is going on in our City:

1. Paving ..... Always a good topic ... that is as long as we continue to pave. The paving bid is out and bids are due in next week to the city. We should vote on the final contract in July with the objective to start the paving process in early August. The August start date is to coincide with our first payment of our property tax but as current being discussed by DC the first payment date maybe delayed until SEP 30th. I have been assured that we will be able to bridge that time gap. For traffic reasons, if possible, we would like to have most of the main roads on the paving list paved prior to school starting .. of course weather is always a factor we can't control. As in the passed our policy is to spend approx. 75% of the paving budget on the main roads with the rest use to pave neighborhood streets. Like last year, some of our budget will be use to do "major patching" like we did on Ashford Center Parkway last year. By doing major patching we can increase the number of streets that we can bring up to a good standard vs completely paving a lessor number of streets. Remember that during the paving there will be some traffic delays / interruptions so some patience will be required.

2. Sidewalks .... The preliminary plan for the sidewalks on Valley View (from Ashford Dunwoody Rd to Ashford Chase) and for Happy Hollow are complete and the cost estimates should be complete within the week. Once we get the cost estimates we will compare this with the budgeted funds. We are operating under the assumption that we have adequate funding for at least these two projects ... and hopefully more. These are two busy streets that have a very high priority for sidewalks as they do not have a sidewalk on either side of the street. The high priority for sidewalk installation are major streets without a sidewalk on either side. Safe Routes to Schools remains at the top of the list and again this year we have applied for a Federal Safe Routes to School Grant like the one we received last year for the Kingsley School area. On a side note, I have contacted Sandy Springs and they have budgeted this year for their portion of the sidewalks on Spalding Dr that will connect with our sidewalks thus giving us a continuous sidewalk along Spalding Dr. for the folks on the western side of our city.

3. City Creation Suit ... As you know earlier this year a group filed suit against the State of Georgia to dissolve the city charters of Sandy Springs, Chattahoochee Hills, Johns Creek, Milton and Dunwoody. The suit was filed vs the State of Georgia because all of these cities were created by legislation by the State of GA. This week the Georgia Attorney General filed a motion to dismiss the suit .... stay tuned.

4. Stripping the Streets ..... Over the past two weeks you should have noticed our crews repainting road stripping, school markings, etc. Like all of our projects this task in contracted out and to gain some economy of cost we wait until we have several project to do until contracting this work out. We did not do any stripping on the streets that are scheduled for paving this year as these streets will be stripped as part of the paving project/cost.

5. 911 Fees ... As you know on 1 OCT 2011 we will switch from DC to Chat Com for our 911 service ... an item I opposed due to the estimated $1.1 to $1.8 additional three year cost to the city (General, I whole-heartedly agree). That being what it is ... it is now more important than ever to ensure that the 911 Fees on your phone statements - landline, cellphones, Voice over Internet, etc. - are going to the proper agency. Please check your phone. etc. statements and under "Government Fees & Taxes" it should currently note "DeKalb County-911 Tax" (on 1 OCT 2011 this should automatically change to Dunwoody-911 Tax) followed by a dollar amount. If your statement currently denotes anything other than "DeKalb County-911 Tax" please call your provider and get this changed. Friends of mine have noted Sandy Springs-911 Tax or Fulton County-911 Tax on their statements even though they live in Dunwoody .... we will need every penny we can get starting 1 OCT to pay for the additional cost of 911 services from Chat Com. Thanks for taking care of this matter.

6. City Service Providers .... As I am writing this our committee is interviewing firms that have bid on the contracts to provide the "City Services" for the next four years starting at the end on this year. As you all know we selected the public privatization form of government which basically means, except for police and about eight full time city employees, all the city services are preformed by multiple contract vendors. I think for efficiency and cost this form of government has proven highly effective and is now being copied by surrounding cities. The final vote on the vendors should come at our July 25th meeting.

7. Meeting Schedule Change .... The meeting regular scheduled for 27 JUN has been moved to 20 JUN starting @ 6 PM as I and a couple of others will be attending the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) Annual Convention from 25 - 28 JUN. I will be taking a couple of classes on Municipal Finance so I should return full of all kinds of great knowledge.

8. Important Class Date .... On 18 AUG 2011 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM Lt Oliver Fladrich, of our police department, will teach a class entitled "Situational Awareness." This is a class on how to keep yourself, your Family and your belongings safe in todays world. Meredy and I have taken this class and we both highly recommend you putting this on your calendar as a "must do." To register go to the following website .... ..... you will be glad that you attended this class. The real kicker is that there is no test at the end of the class and Lt Fladrich is a very good speaker and entertainer.

9. Public Schools .... The quality of our schools are the most important factor in bringing quality new families and businesses to our City as well as protecting our property values. Our DC School Board Representative ... Ms. Nancy Jester .... is doing an outstanding job of representing the citizens and more importantly the children of Dunwoody and DC. She faces a difficult task in trying to change the "ingrained establishment" of the DC School System (DCSS). She can use all the support we can give her as she gives her max effort to enhance our public schools for the betterment of our community and our children. If you have been following the political tones over the last few months during the search for a new superintendent for the DCSS you probably share my embarrassment on how some very outstanding candidates have been treated. Recommend you contact Nancy at and offer her your support and help.

10. Dunwoody Parks and Possible Bond Referendum ..... At our meeting this last Monday night the Master Parks Plan (MPP) was passed by your City Council. I voted against the MPP because I think we can have great parks for a lot less money. Several times during the MPP debate I requested a "line item scrub" of the MPP to bring the cost into reality. According to the latest numbers the approx. cost of the entire MPP is $59 million ... if it with-stands the scrutiny of future city councils. That is a huge figure for a city with an approx. $18 million budget. Add to this that we are currently living in the worst economic times of any of our lives in our Nation ... highlighted by the fact that our home values have decreased by approx. 30%. The next issue is the possible Parks Bond Referendum which we will be voting on at one of our near future meetings so it can be included on the November ballot. As currently discussed, these referendum will include a city tax increase of .75 mils for park acquisition and an additional tax increase of .75 mils for park development. This increase represents a tax increase of approx. 27% for each .75 mil increase or a total city increase tax of approx. 54% for both increases. The total debt would be approx. $66 million in principal for both increases plus an additional approx. $55 million in interest .... this is all figured over a 30 year period. When I campaigned for city-hood and when I campaigned for City Council I promised that I would work to keep your taxes low. I don't consider a 27% or 54% tax increase "keeping your taxes low." To make it clear where I stand on all this .... I will vote in favor of putting this on the NOV ballot so the the citizens can vote on the referendums as I have more faith in the citizenry than in government but ... I will personally oppose and vote against both referendums on the NOV ballot. More details to follow later.

11. I close tonight with two safety issues .... (1) Please do not ever leave anything of value insight in your car ..... it will save you a lot heartaches and reduce our crime rate. We continue to have numerous car break-ins that are easily preventable and (2) If a policeman is attempting to pull you over and you are in an unsafe area .... turn on your emergency flashers, drive no faster than the speed limit and pull over at the first lighted safe area you see.

12. One more item .... See you all at the "Second Greatest Show on Earth" ... the Dunwoody July 4th Independence Day Parade. Bring your friends and Family. My thanks to Pam Tallmadge and the hundreds of volunteers that organize the largest Independence Day Parade in the State of Georgia! Hint ... you may have a chance to dunk someone after the Parade!

12. That is all for tonight. Please pass this on to your friends, neighbors, members of your HOA and /or anyone that you think maybe interested. Thanks for your continued support and involvement in our City .... it is totally impressive.

Let Us Continue To Build Our City Together

Denny Shortal
Dunwoody City Council, District One, Post-1 Mayor Pro Tem PH (O) 678-382-6700 (C) 678-246-9006

DeKalb's Search for a Superintendent

By Jaime Sarrio

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

DeKalb County is moving forward with the search for a new school superintendent, despite concerns from board members that the district is now "radioactive" to potential candidates.
Last week, Dunwoody school board representative Nancy Jester sent out an email on behalf of herself and board members Don McChesney, Pam Speaks and Paul Womack, saying recent confidentiality leaks had damaged the district's ability to attract candidates.

"We are convinced that the latest leak has made DeKalb radioactive to potential candidates," they wrote. "These actions have damaged the students, employees and the taxpayers of DeKalb County."
To read full story, click DeKalb's Search for Superintendent.

1 comment:

Mandrake said...

True leadership Councilamn Shortal,
Would be for you to vote NO at the Council meeting and not "kick the can down the road until November." We elected you to make the tough decisions for us, not support the people who what to take from us the fruits of our labor.
This double speak of "I'm against it, but I'm going to vote for it and then in November I'll vote against it" is bovine excrement.
Man up and do what you promised us when we voted for you in the first place.