Thursday, July 28, 2011

Update From Councilman Wittenstein; Farmer Bob Reviews Council Meeting

Below you will find the latest city of Dunwoody update from Councilman Robert Wittenstein.  Robert talks about the two bond referendums that were unanimously approved on Monday night and will be on the November ballot.  He also talks about the city's new service contracts.
Below the councilor's update is the first part of the most recent post by Dunwoody sage Bob Lundsten.  Draw your own conclusions.

Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,

We have just re-negotiated contracts for city services with local venders and have achieved significant cost savings with higher levels of service.
When the city started two and half years ago we signed contracts with three firms to provide most city services. With those contracts expiring in December, it was time to take the contracts back out to bid.
I was one of three council members on the evaluation committee. We drafted the Request for Proposals, developed the scoring system, reviewed dozens of proposals (thousands of pages) and conducted 21 face-to-face interviews with potential venders.
We had a very competitive process that led to our recommendation of four firms. Two of the firms are currently providing services to Dunwoody and the other two firms have asked to talk with our current contract staff to see if there is a good fit, so we expect very little staff turnover as a result of the process.
We are getting significantly higher levels of services in IT and Marketing/Communications and comparable levels of service in all other areas. The process has provided strong and compelling evidence that our contracting model works and will provide excellent service at locked-in savings for the contract period.
These contracts will save us over $3 million over the next four years. The $780,000 per year in savings will be available for additional road or parks improvements, or to cover the added cost of the ChatComm 911 service. I would like us to earmark some of the funds to start a vehicle replacement fund so that when we need start replacing our existing fleet of police cars in a few years we have the money in reserve rather than having to borrow from the bank and pay interest.
It didn't get a lot of play in the local press, but we dodged a tax bullet this month. There was a lot of publicity around DeKalb County's 4.3 mill tax increase. What didn't get as much notice is that most of that doesn't apply to Dunwoody city residents. Our taxes are "only" going up 1.59 mills. That is still a jump, and it will mean about $150 more per year for the average Dunwoody homeowner, but it is a far cry from the major tax increase other DeKalb residents will endure. Dunwoody's total property tax millage rate is now ten percent lower than anywhere else in DeKalb County.
On a related note, this week the Dunwoody City Council voted unanimously to place two parks bond referendum on the November ballot. The first would fund the purchase of additional park land; the second would fund facility improvements to existing and newly acquired parks. If approved, each would add $104 in property tax per year to the average Dunwoody home. It will be up to the voters to decide whether we want to fund additional parks infrastructure investment or maintain the status quo.
Next month I'll travel to Eatonton, Georgia (in Putnam County) to represent Dunwoody at the joint Georgia Municipal Association/ACCG Revenue and Finance policy committee meeting. The primary goal of this meeting is to develop the tax, revenue and finance priorities for cities and counties in the next Georgia General Assembly session. Tax reform is sure to be high on the list of priorities. I am sure it will be a lively session!
It's hard to believe but DeKalb County schools start again soon on August 8. Remember to drive carefully in school zones and obey the reduced speed limits. Watch out for walkers and bikers. Good luck to everyone as we begin a new school year.


I just got done watching the videos of the council meeting on Monday night. That was the meeting that some members of the City Council are all puffed up about. We passed the bond issue, so we will now get a chance to vote on raising our property taxes. That is OK. Citizens have that right. I totally disagree with the false sense of urgency that Councilman Wittenstein has constantly hyped, but the voters will decide.

There is no way I would give this or any council in the future, a $30+ million advance to spend on future projects without any real guidelines or controls. Do not throw the parks plan out there as the supposed guide of future spending. This council has shown a total disregard for plans that have been worked on by committees and consultants. I still cannot figure how baseball fields even got into a plan at all regardless of where they eventually be built.
So for whatever it is worth I can support bonds for purchase, but refuse to give any council a debit card with a $30+ million line of credit. (I have no illusions that my endorsement will make a bit of difference)
What is disturbing is this council’s on going habit to make changes to items that have been worked on for months from the floor at a council meeting, then voting on the newly amended item. I do not remember hearing that any of them are legal experts, or have any experience writing city code. Not having hard copies of the changes available to the public is a dis-service to the public since no one really knows what was voted. Bad policy, bad habit, one that I hope does not come back to bite us in the butt someday.
To read the rest of Bob's blog, click Dunwoody Farmer Bob.

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