Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Councilman Robert Wittenstein provides a comprehensive update on Dunwoody.

Councilman Robert Wittenstein sent a nice recap of tonight's meeting and other recent council decisions to his e-mail list and he has allowed me to share his message with you here. I echo many of Robert's sentiments listed below and believe that the City has been built upon a strong foundation for future success and hired the right City Manager who will ensure that the city services are delivered efficiently and cost-effectively. There is still much work that has to be done, but like Robert, I am very proud of what we have accomplished to date. The audio of the meeting is here (31 MB).

Our new city officially begins operations one week from today, and it looks like it will go smoothly!

Many people have been working very hard to get everything ready and the effort is paying off. In the last month we have accomplished a lot:
  • Most importantly, we have hired a professional City Manager who will be responsible for the day-to-day operation of our city. His name is Warren Hutmacher and the entire city council is very excited to have him on-board. Most recently he was the City Manger of Norcross. Before that he was the City Manager of Avondale Estates and prior to that he was the Assistant City Manager of Marietta.
  • We have rented temporary office space for our new City Hall. We have a six month lease for about 6,000 square feet of space at 400 Northridge Road, Suite 1250. (This space is a great deal. It is costing the city less than $8 per square foot completely furnished.)
  • Our telephone system is installed and in the final stages of set-up. On December 1 you will be able to call City Hall and someone will answer the phone, “City of Dunwoody, How may I help you?”. Computer equipment has also arrived and is being loaded with typical office software.
  • We passed an Alcohol ordinance that sets last call at 2:00 am, but relaxes a number of other administrative requirements that our local restaurants thought were burdensome. By and large, they are pleased with the changes we have made.
  • Tonight we passed ordinances to regulate businesses in Dunwoody. We have done our best to reduce the administrative overhead imposed by DeKalb and it should be easier for businesses to operate in Dunwoody. Now that we have a business ordinance, we can begin to issue business licenses on December 1 and accept renewals.
  • We have established a banking relationship with SunTrust Bank (after a formal RFP and proposal process.)
  • We have established Intergovernmental Agreements with DeKalb for them to continue to provide Fire & Emergency Medical service, Water and Sewer service and 911 call center service.
  • We are close to hiring a city Police Chief and a Finance Director. If all goes well, we should have offers made in the next week or two.
As many of you will recall, I was very critical of Citizens for Dunwoody’s original process for seeking a vendor to provide city services. That process yielded only one bidder, CH2M Hill, whose bid was higher than we could afford. We went back to square one and started over and the results are considerably better.

Boyken International was hired to help us conduct the bid process and they have been invaluable. We broke the services we needed into three broad categories:
  1. Finance, HR and Administration
  2. Zoning, Permits, Inspections and Code Enforcement
  3. Roads, Drainage and Parks
In record time we published, advertised, held bidders’ conferences, sent out addendums, received and evaluated proposals and interviewed potential firms. We received qualified bids from 14 firms! The end result is that we have entered into contract negotiations with selected vendors in each area and we expect the final cost to the City of Dunwoody to be almost $3 million less than the original bid from CH2M Hill for a similar level of service. That is 35% lower than the bid from CH2M Hill. The moral of the story is that competitive bidding works!

We are finalizing contracts with Clark, Patterson & Lee to provide our Community Development function (zoning, permits, etc.), with Lowe Engineers to provide our Public Works function (roads, parks, etc.) and with Calvin Giordano and Associates and JAT Consulting (Jo Ann Tuttle) of Kennesaw, GA to provide our Finance & Administration functions.

Councilman Denny Shortal (denis.shortal@dunwoodyga.gov) and Councilwoman Adrian Bonser (adrian.bonser@dunwoodyga.gov) have worked night and day (literally) for the last three weeks to get us to this point. Please thank them when you get a chance.

We become a city on December 1, but DeKalb County will continue to provide services through the end of the year. Our real “moment of truth” will be on January 1 when we take over most services from DeKalb (DeKalb will continue to provide Police Service for several months until we can start up our own police force.)

This is truly an exciting time to be in Dunwoody and I am honored to be able to play a role. Call or e-mail me if you have a question.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.


Robert Wittenstein
City Council, City of Dunwoody
Office: 770-767-8421 • Home: 770-396-4747

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