Friday, December 26, 2008

Budget Memo to Mayor and City Council from the Dunwoody City Manager

Dunwoody Projected Expenses of 14 Million

It is my pleasure to submit to you the first budget for the City of Dunwoody. It is awe inspiring to consider the thousands of dedicated citizens and business leaders who spent countless hours working passionately to create the great City of Dunwoody since the 1970's when incorporation was first proposed in the Georgia General Assembly. All of the blood, sweat and tears have culminated in the incorporation of the newest city in Georgia - the City of Dunwoody.

Given the monumental struggle for local control this community has overcome for the past 30+ years, it is humbling to serve as your City Manager. I look forward to presenting many budgets to you over the coming years and each of those budgets will build upon a commitment to superior service and fiscal responsibility. Dunwoody is a premier community and our future depends on our financial stability.

The Fiscal Year 2009 (January 1, 2009 - December 31, 2009) budget is a challenging budget for two reasons: (1) The economic downturn nationally, regionally and locally has destabilized traditionally rich revenue sources for local governments; which limits our ability to deliver high quality services at a high cost factor, and (2) There is no history for the City of Dunwoody and therefore, a number of assumptions and well laid out plans are in place in this budget. We will need to monitor revenue collections and expenses more carefully than at any point in our future.

With all of that said, the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget collects enough revenue to support a high level of city services without any increase to the previously conceived millage rate of 2.74 mills. This rate ensures that our taxpayers pay no more to the City of Dunwoody then they have historically been paying to DeKalb County through the County's unincorporated special services tax rate. Property taxes, franchise fees and business license revenue make up 70% of our total revenue. I will be monitoring all revenue sources throughout the year to make sure we are hitting our projections, but it will be crucial for the City of Dunwoody to collect every dollar legitimately owed to the City in these top three categories to guarantee that we will have ample revenue to deliver the best municipal services to our community.

The City will be utilizing Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) financing in FY 2009 to level out cash flow problems that any new incorporated city would experience. We are estimating that the TAN will be approximately $6,000,000 and will only used on a "draw" basis to make certain that we are only paying interest on funds that we vitally need for cash flow purposes.

On the expense side, the City is prepared to deliver services on January 1, 2009 through an innovative set of partnerships with three private sector firms who will provide the City of Dunwoody with Community Development (Clark Patterson Lee), Public Works (Lowe Engineers) and Finance and Administration (Calvin, Giordano and Associates) services. All of our critical staff is in place and our citizens and business owners will not only see not drop in service delivery, but they will witness a dynamic and dedicated process of delivering high quality and responsive city services. Early projections prior to incorporation projected service delivery costs well above the costs that we are now contracted to spend. This cost savings, in my opinion, is due to this innovative approach of using several vendors to provide services instead of using one company to manage city operations. I think that in time, this model of service delivery will prove to be effective and cost efficient.

DeKalb County will continue to provide our community with water and sewer supply, treatment and distribution services, fire and rescue, sanitation, and E-911 services for the foreseeable future. The County will also provide Police services for a ninety day period, during such time the City of Dunwoody will be preparing to go "live" with police protection starting April 1, 2009. An intergovernmental agreement is in place that will compensate the County $430,000 per month for this service.

Fiscal Year 2009 will be an exciting year. Over the coming days, the City will add a Finance Director, City Clerk and Municipal Court Clerk. A City Hall will be chosen and built out for occupancy on June 1, 2009 and a new Police Station will be built out for occupancy on March 15, 2009. The City will be recruiting an army of volunteers to fill various boards and commissions that will regulate land development and provide the elected officials with advise, counsel and recommendations. A comprehensive plan will be developed this year that will afford the community the opportunity to create the road map for our future. Roads will be paved, potholes filled, curbs repaired and signals timed properly. Our parks will be clean and safe and our citizens, visitors and business owners will be treated like family. The new City of Dunwoody will not be a replica of what has been done in the past, but instead we will be an innovative, transparent and dynamic local government, where billions of dollars in commerce are transacted and families live a charmed life in a beautiful community.

In the final analysis, the City will take in approximately $15,000,000 in revenue and expend nearly $14,000,000 over the course of this year. Including a $500,000 contingency fund in the Non- Departmental budget, the City intends to transfer $1,500,000 to fund balance reserves for FY 2010 and beyond. This is a great start toward a fiscally stable future for the City of Dunwoody.

I am eager for January 1, 2009 to arrive so that we can begin to live the dream of residing in the City of Dunwoody. I am excited to work with all of you to bring pour vision and your goals for our great community to life.

Warren A. Hutmacher
City Manager

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