Thursday, June 30, 2011

Update From Councilman Wittenstein

Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,

First, let me welcome quite a few new recipients to my monthly e-mail update and remind everyone that if you would rather not receive them, just e-mail me at Also let me know if you want to be added to the list or if your e-mail address has changed.
Happy 4th of July! I look forward to seeing many of you at the Dunwoody 4th of July parade.
A number of years ago, when my boys were young, I was trying to convey the importance and meaning of the Declaration of Independence to them and Thomas Jefferson's beautiful 18th century language was getting in the way-so I wrote a more kid-friendly version. Each year we read it as a standard part of our family 4th of July observance and I offer it here for any of you who would like to use it. It is an easy read and helps convey the profound meaning behind the celebration.
Most of you should have gotten your DeKalb County property tax assessments. If you are like me, your assessment went down a very small amount. Since we voted this month to keep our millage rate the same, most Dunwoody homeowners will see their Dunwoody city taxes go down. Since we have been very conservative with our spending, we still expect to end the year with a modest surplus despite the slight overall decrease in property taxes.
This month we finally adopted a long-range parks master plan. Like the transportation plan we adopted last month, it is the result of a lot of community input and it lays out a long range vision for parks and greenspace in Dunwoody. It got somewhat contentious towards the end. The big issue was whether or not to plan baseball fields for Brook Run Park. We had sizable groups petitioning us both ways. In the end we decided to look for another location in Dunwoody for new baseball fields which preserves the back of Brook Run as a more natural area.
The political campaign season for city elections is starting to heat up and I must say I'm surprised and a little disappointed. I'm concerned about two trends I am starting to see. One is an attempt to turn our non-partisan city elections into a Republican vs Democratic election. The other is an attempt by some candidates to turn the proposed parks bond referendum into some sort of City Council Gone Wild issue. It is absolutely appropriate for us to ask residents if they want to fund additional parks infrastructure improvements with additional property taxes-or not. This isn't the City Council deciding to raise your taxes. It is us asking voters what they want. Candidates who are trying to turn this into a battle against Big Government Spending are distorting the issue for personal political gain and I hate to see that happen here in Dunwoody.
Several of us on the City Council attended the annual Georgia Municipal Association conference this past weekend. I completed my seventh UGA class designed for elected officials, this one on Municipal Law. I was impressed by how much we are doing right but I did pick up several interesting nuggets to bring back and follow-up on. I was also struck by the general sense I got from most of the people at the conference that the economy finally seems to be turning around and that most places in Georgia are seeing increased hiring and economic activity.
I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.

Robert Wittenstein

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