Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Click on the photo above, it is the fabulous ending to the original classic film Planet of the Apes (warning - if you are offended by salty language, you might want to skip it).  Charlton Heston is slamming his fist in the sand saying, "you maniacs, you did it!"
When I saw that DeKalb County Commissioners voted 4-3 to raise our taxes by a whopping 4.35 mill (or 26 percent), it made me think of the ending to this timeless film.  No, the tax increase probably will not bring an end to our world as we know it, but it certain feels like we're moving in that direction.  Even CEO Burrell Ellis' supporters criticize the tax hike, as well as his management of the county's finances.
Interesting to note, not everyone in Dunwoody is as disappointed as I am about the tax increase.  Right here on this blog is an bare-knuckled exchange between commissioner Elaine Boyer's Chief of Staff, Bob Lundsten (Boyer was the leading opponent of the increase), and a longtime Dunwoody resident who goes by the handle Chip Bagman.  Click comments to read.

Decision on Bonds Deferred

I'm a little late writing about this (sorry, a busy real estate week), but I was at the Dunwoody City Council meeting on Monday night, and kudos to the council for doing the right thing and delaying the vote on the two parks' bonds that will, if passed, increase our taxes another 1.5 mill!  Now, the big question, will the council continue to do the right thing and delay the vote until, say, next year or the year after that?
Again, I don't have an issue with the acquisition of more park land or parks' improvements, only with doing it now, or through such a large tax of this nature.
If the referendums are put on this November's ballot, one is all but certain to be voted down, and the other is most likely to be voted down.  And if/when that happens, it will make it that much harder to get a bond of this nature passed in the near future.  At the very least, why not defer the vote until next year or the year after, when more residents might be more likely to stomach this tax increase (I probably won't be one of them). 


DunwoodyTalk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DunwoodyTalk said...


I saw a trailer for a new Planet of the Apes movie, coming out August 5th. The originals were so much better than the 2001 remake. Hopefully this year's will be more like those of old. Too bad Charlton Heston is not around for a cameo.

On the topic of trailers, looks like the middle school had four new trailers hauled in this week. I know you have connections with the folks who make those fancy Vandy learning cottages - try to get those Vandy-style trailers at the middle school.

The trailers are part of a new DeKalb initiative - Trailer-K-12. The program, like the 'Academy', is a pilot program to study the academic progress of Dunwoody children who will be educated in trailers from Kindergarten up to 12th grade.

If Chip and FarmerBob keep the comments going (and I can lure some of the school chatter your way) you may need more bandwidth for the blog

Chip said...

Blogger Bob:

I tend more and more to agree with you on this. I know Councilman W. thought deferring the transportation bond until next year's statewide referendum on taxes made sense, but I'd prefer we take our own money and fix our own streets the way we'd like and if we have to pay for that ourselves, so be it.

As to the parks issue, I'm in your camp about voting "Yes" for item 1, acquisition of land for future parks, not so much for item 2 developing the parks. My take will be that both referendums will be defeated, although item 1 will be defeated by less that item 2.

The state transportation referendum will not pass. Again, these are just my opinions.


Robert Wittenstein said...

I agree completely that DeKalb has a very high degree of disfunction, but I do want to direct your attention to one thing. Our (Dunwoody homeowners) taxes are not going up as much as has been reported.

On Tuesday, the DeKalb Board of Commissoners raised Dunwoody’s millage rate for county taxes from 11.42 mills to 13.01 mills. An increase of 1.59 mills, which is 14%. The average Dunwoody home is valued at $345,722. That means that this will increase the average Dunwoody homeowner’s taxes by $220.

14% and $220 are both real big increases but they are not anything like the size and scale of the increases hitting unincorporated residents.

I am not sure that either bond referendums will pass, but I am in agreement with the majority on council that we should give voters the opportunity to vote up or down on this issue.

Joe Seconder said...

Yes,we shouldn't be afraid to let direct democracy work more often: Allowing the citizens to decide by a vote. I'd love it if Georgia were to have voter referendum. What's the state legislature afraid of? We'd have had Sunday sales a decade ago, and probably would have supported paying for our transportation and infrastructure fixes as the population grew. (Seems like there was a big build up for the Olympics and then things slowed down, yet another couple million folks moved to the metro area). Oh yeah, and I'd like to directly elect the members of the GDOT board, too.

Bob Fiscella said...

You're right. With that said, wouldn't it have been nice had DeKalb County let us vote on its tax increase? It would have been defeated (at least at that millage rate, and forced the county to make more cuts)!

Robert - as always, thanks for the info on DeKalb taxes. I'm not doubting you, but I'll wait until my tax bill comes out in September and I see for myself.

As for the bond referendums, I'm not dead set against putting them on the ballot, but if both fail in November (and I believe both will fall short), it will make it that much tougher getting a parks bond passed in the near future. Plus, wouldn't it be prudent to wait and see if DeKalb ponies up the $7 million it still owes Dunwoody?

Robert Wittenstein said...

I don't know how to attach a PDF to a blog post, so I will send you the DeKalb Board of Commissioner's millage rate document in e-mail. This is the document they actually voted on. The Dunwoody county tax rate is set on page 13, item 9.

Chip said...

Blogger Bob:

You apparently aren't aware of the basic underpinnings of representative democracy, as practiced in these United States.

The reasons we elect representatives (whether they be Senators, Congressmen, Commissioners, Councilmen, etc.) is to provide manageable debate and decision-making. The powers of these elected representatives are enumerated in documents called "constitutions" "charters" etc. I don't know of any representative democracies that do not assign power to levy and collect payments (taxes) from its citizenry, although the methods and means of assigning these taxes varies considerably.

In the case at hand, voting on where to set the millage rate is well-within the sphere of the representative democratic organizations. Your effective remedy to a tax increase is to convince and support your local representative in voting against the increase.

As for the bond issue, that's another matter as it involves a specific contractual obligation encumbering the City of Dunwoody in a special way.

I"m sure "The Other Dunwoody" could come up with a wonderful anecdotal story to explain this to you.


Bob Fiscella said...

Thanks for the civics refresher. I understand how a democracy works, unfortunately sometimes our elected officials don't understand what our forefathers were trying to achieve. I feel like it is taxation without representation because of representatives are not hearing the will of the people!