The AJC; Tuesday, September 09
Georgia’s newest city will run in the red during its first year of operation, according to a new study by advocates of cityhood.
The Citizens for Dunwoody task force on administration and finance presented a cash flow analysis Monday that shows the city operations will cost about $2.3 million more than the city will take in from projected taxes and fees during its first year. The new city opens for business Dec. 1.
“I don’t want people to be alarmed to see a deficit, because it can easily be fixed and improved,” said Oliver Porter, a consultant who is helping the northern DeKalb city get off the ground.
The new city’s government can cut costs, officials said, by delaying some projects or by negotiating a less expensive contract with the management firm promoted by city advocates.
Various task forces have issued recommendations and reports on how to best provide services when Dunwoody begins operations. According to Citizens for Dunwoody’s projections, the disparity in the proposed city budget comes come from "revenue such as about $1 million from the Homestead Option Sales Tax and about $1.6 million in occupational tax revenue” that an earlier study had projected the city would collect. Now, city advocates don’t expect that money at least for the first year.
Sue Hansen, an accountant who co-chaired the committee, cautioned that the $14.7 million projected budget changed daily and that the figures were only a draft.
But she said the new council needed time to plan to make up for potential losses by negotiating further with the consulting firm CH2M Hill and making other policy decisions such as delaying road projects.
Voters will pick six city council members from 15 candidates next Tuesday.
It will be up to the council, many of whom are tied to Citizens for Dunwoody, whether to approve the recommendations and sign off the contract with CH2M Hill that the group is negotiating.