Saturday, May 17, 2008

Living a Mayberry Fantasy in Dunwoody, GA while reporting on the push for Cityhood.

For my loyal readers, please excuse me taking a day away from the blog to live in my “Mayberry Fantasy” existence whereby I was able to work all day to earn a living, attend my son’s grade school musical and then close out the evening, dancing with my wife as I was able to support a Dunwoody neighbor in need. I am truly blessed.

Thursday night’s meeting on the incorporation of Dunwoody was well attended, in spite of the rain, with over 300 residents having their questions answered by the forum arranged by the Dunwoody Homeowners Association. In the end, there was little controversy with the Citizens for Dunwoody panel easily answering most, if not all of the questions and the “opposition” panel being silent for most of the night. Possible tax increases was the big subject of the evening and the Citizens for Dunwoody handouts quickly identified that the actual taxes going to the city is about $200.00 depending on the assessed value of your home and that possible future tax increases are capped at 1 mil unless there is a referendum approved by the citizens. They also stressed that all homestead & senior citizen exemptions would remain in place if the city were to take over therefore your tax bill would be essentially unchanged.

Yvonne Williams, President of the Perimeter Community Improvement District, who was forced to sit at the “opposition” table though she and her organization are truly neutral on the subject; clearly dispelled all of the rumors that have been floated through the press in the last week by Rep. Jill Chambers. Ms. Williams stressed that the PCID legislation which enacted their charter would easily transfer to the new City for the area of the PCID in its jurisdiction. She stated that the vitality of the Perimeter Business District is an essential part of our community, the County, the State and the Southeastern United States.

DeKalb Commissioner Jeff Rader, who represents an area outside of the proposed city limits tried to stress that the county as a whole might lose $18 million dollars in lost revenue (out the 1 Billion Dollars the county brings in annually) and because of that loss the county may have to raise taxes on everyone in the county to make up for the loss in revenue. What Mr. Rader forgot to mention was that the county would not have to serve the city with the services it currently provides the Dunwoody area, therefore expending less of the revenue which they would be receiving. By some of the estimates that I have seen, the total revenue loss to the county after reducing expenses and services currently offered to Dunwoody, would be about 6 million dollars. It’s a shame that Commissioner Rader was willing to threaten the 300 plus county residents in attendance with a possible tax increase over such a small loss in revenue (at least percentage wise) when the County has been proven to waste millions of dollars in “improper” purchasing & contracting procedures. It is this inefficiency and lack of stewardship over our tax dollars which makes the cityhood issue so attractive to many of the residents who were wearing Dunwoody Yes buttons.

The true winner of the evening, besides the citizens who obtained the information they were looking for, was DeKalb Superior Court Judge Cynthia J. Becker who wowed the crowd with her personality, wit and charm. She was an outstanding choice as the moderator who made the evening enjoyable, treated the panelists fairly, and ensured that this informational meeting ran smoothly.


Kim said...

I was with you until: "the County has been proven to waste millions of dollars in “improper” purchasing & contracting procedures" ...

What the audit established was that the County was not following procurement procedures - not that the expenditures were "waste."

Nonetheless, there certainly must be waste in the DeKalb governmental budget (why should they be different?). Is that really the most attractive reason to incorporate? I do not understand the movement, if so.

Lindsay said...

Great recap. According to Jill, it does not seem to matter that she is spreading false information, she plans on filing lawsuits anyway. These are her comments at Peach Pundit:

the potential lawsuits referenced in the Dunwoody Crier article will be:

1. constitutionality of changing the Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST) disbursement without county-wide voter approval

2. the Perimeter Community Improvement District’s Cooperation agreement with DeKalb County requiring the county to provide all governmental services in that commercial district (this contract is mandated by the GA Constitution).

No lawsuits will be filed unless the voters approve the Dunwoody incorporation referendum.