Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dunwoody Preliminary Budget & Business License Tax Rates to be discussed on Monday

City Hall has forwarded the following updated documents to the City Council for Monday's meeting and I note that it includes a preliminary budget summary document for discussion.

12152008_agenda_worksession.pdf

12152008_Memo_FY_2009 Budget.pdf
12152008_FY_2009_Budget_Summary_as_12122008.pdf

12152008_City of Dunwoody Zoning Ordinance v.8.pdf
12152008_Dunwoody_Business_License_Tax_Rates.pdf
12152008_Memo_Business_License_Ordinance_Amendment.pdf
12152008_Zoning_Ordinance_v7.doc

12152008_SOB Ordinance_v3.pdf

12152008_Chapter 7 - Building Code.pdf
12152008_Chapter 14 - Land Development and Environmental Protection.pdf
12152008_Chapter 16 - Offenses and Violations.pdf
12152008_Chapter 17 - Traffic and Public Roadways.pdf
12152008_Chapter 21 - Signs redline.pdf
12152008_Chapter 23 - Streets and Sidewalks.pdf

3 comments:

TwoDogsTrucking said...

Where is the public debate of facts on what is best for the taxpayer?

Since I am a serving DeKalb Officer, I have forfeited my right of unfetterd free speach. I must utilize this semi-confidential form of expression to have a voice. I will say I still feel honored to be a DeKalb Police Officer, because at its core, lives the best police department in Georgia and one of the best in the southeast. I will also say at times in my career I have served Dunwoody and quite possibly lived in Dunwoody. Thank you Mr. Heneghan, your blog has been the premier source discussion on the issues.

The tactics and particularly the arguements used to justify a municipality should raise continual and vigorous debate with a central theme of what is best for the taxpayer. The public debate so far between the politicians has been heavy on innuendo and a very light examination of the positive and negative facts; in my opinion.

My comments will concentrate on police services but the theme of police services could be easily supplanted for any of the other duties that Dunwoody will assume.

Currently Dunwoody is served (omitting the assigned patrol officers and 5 or 6 precinct property crimes detectives) by 20+ robbery/assault detectives (dets), approx 15-20 youth&sex dets, apprx 10-15 auto theft dets, 10++ narcotic dets, homeland security dets, gang dets, fraud dets, and immediate access to SWAT, K9s, motorcycle units, Traffic Specialist Unit, DUI unit, commmericial vehicle unit, taxi inspection, radar unit. aviation unit, a tactical response team, crime scene investions unit, a precinct ICP (community concerns) unit and several more units. All the officers/dets have received advanced training in their areas of responsiblity. Yes, these are shared with other areas of the county but if needed they can and do respond.

The current allotment of officers to Dunwoody is disappointing and even more so since the precinct's boundaries were expanded to include an area that has a high call volume. Yes, some response times have increase but crime has not significantly risen precentage wise in relation to the population rise. Not a bad job by the officers who work Dunwoody beats with the assistance of the above mentioned support units. There was a time in the not so distant past when Dunwoody was assigned 4 to 5 officers per shift.

Recruitment, Training and Retention; this has been the #1 issue for all departments. To recruit/train and retain the best personnel is a nightmare unless your prepared to offer top tier salary/benefits, opportunity and the challenge of a varied experience and advancement. The next tier of recruitment has mostly been out of the county's hands. The applicant pool is limited, first by current age demographics, then by mental and physical requirements, background requirements and lastly there's just not that many people willing to face danger or serve. This leaves a very small percentage of persons eligible.

The State of Georgia only requires 9 weeks of police training in a largely class room setting. Dekalb Police require at least twice that and in a physically and mentally challenging environment just to earn the opportunity to try and make it as an officer. We then require 9 additional weeks of field training and an additional 6 months of review before your considered merit protected. All officers receive yearly additional training beyond what is mandated by the state and all are allowed access to additional training.

Retention has been a nightmare at DKPD but it's a nightmare we should be take pride in. A portion of our grade A officers are always recruited by Federal, State, Military and private industry. This says something about our officers and our training.

The county primarily offers a win/win schedule, a 4 day work week with a 10 hour schedule. A realistic chance to swap shifts or even precincts, to be selected for a support unit assignment (Det's, SWAT, etc) and a realistic chance for promotion.

Okay, I could go on and on and on but THE QUESTION IS; will the City of Dunwoody Police Department (or any county department being replaced) be a better deal for the citizens?

We (DKPD) have our problems but most are temporary and fixable. January will probably see significant changes in the direction of DKPD.

Dunwoody as it stands: 44 total officer (the DKPD North Precinct has previously had 100+ officers assigned and currently has more than Dunwoody PD has allocated)

Dunwoody PD is looking to run two shifts of 12 hours each, which means an officer will have to flip flop from a day shift to a night shift on a regular basis.

Dunwoody is proposing 5 or 6 detectives to handle everything, the precinct dets now handle an average of 50+ cases each a month and thats just property crimes.

Dunwoody will offer a comparable pay scale and send new hires to a state academy.

In the real world, all police departments and officers are NOT the same. Dunwoody will get applications but hidden behind those applications will be the personality of "the grass is always greener". In my opinion Dunwoody will be going from a tier 1 police department to a tier 3 department because of a temporary and directed allocation of manpower (which could end in January). Remember one of the pro-Dunwoody City rally points was 4 patrol officers over the county's 3, no mention was made of the other police service Dunwoody would give up to gain this one additional patrol officer.

Ask, from an employer and from a prospective quality employee's perspective. Which is offering a more attractive package for the best candidate, the county or Dunwoody. This is a serious issue where lives could literally be on the line.

To share my experience; I knew I wanted to be challenged in my career, I knew I wanted to experience multiple specialties with in my career, and I knew I wanted to compete for promotion.
I truely had to earn my position with DeKalb Police (the academy was almost like boot camp) and I feel proud of that accomplishment when I remember all those who could not earn it. I've been able to pursue specialties with in law enforcement and lastly I've been given a fair shot at promotional testing. If I was an applicant today, Dunwoody PD would not be on my radar because it can't offer the challenge, experience or opportunity.

Is the creation of a municpal police department truely the best option and why?

Are my thoughts way off base here and why?

Thaddeus Osbourne Dabell said...

Your thoughts are rational, but don't fit the rationale. We were swept into cityhood on an emotional tsunami that was not subjected to much in the way of critical thinking. There is no mystery behind the fact that the Task Forces did not operate in the open, did not publish draft reports, nor source materials, nor agendas, nor did they 'complete' their tasks until well after the referendum. As the reports trickled out the reasons for secrecy and delay were obvious.

The police task farce recommended a budget-busting department that would not then and probably will not now survive a detailed, critical review. It is also impossible to deny that Dunwoody will replicate much of the administrative and command overhead already in place in DeKalb. You would not be out of line to suggest this is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

That said, DeKalb contributed to this fiasco. They were out of touch and did not recognized the importance of addressing quality of life concerns. They also allowed the development of a belief that North DeKalb was unfairly and disproportionately funding services, especially police. This notion of "we pay, they play" was cultivated very effectively by the pro-Dunwoody forces and was not only not countered by DeKalb, the county contributed to it. For example, the North Precinct has not been pro-active in addressing traffic safety in our neighborhoods. We have residential streets, posted 35 MPH limit, where drive through traffic often exceeds 50 MPH. DeKalb provided no enforcement, no patrolling, no monitoring, no solutions.

So answer this question: if DeKalb County, and the DeKalb PD had wanted to support the creation of a City of Dunwoody, what would they have done differently?

Helen said...

TwoDogsTrucking....I wish you had been more vocal prior to cityhood! These are my concerns exactly. What types of officers would want to leave a job in a large, diverse department to take a job in a small city with little chance for promotion or for diverse assignments? Seems like only those who cannot cut it in the larger departments, did not get a job in the larger departments, or is nearing retirement.

You also make a good point about the numbers. While Dunwoody may have more officers on patrol dedicated to only Dunwoody, there will be little backup if we have a major event.