Tuesday, July 28, 2009

City of Dunwoody Update by Councilman Robert Wittenstein

Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,

The City Council is winding up its discussion on how to kickoff a Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB.) This may seem like an odd thing for us to focus on in our first year but it is actually fairly important. Dunwoody’s five hotels have been collecting hotel/motel taxes and state law requires part of those taxes to be spent promoting tourism. In our first year we will collect close to a million dollars that must be spent on tourism. Previously that money went to DeKalb and they used it to promote DeKalb as a tourist destination. The CVB of Dunwoody will be a separate non-profit rather than be part of the city government. It will have a nine-person board with representatives from the hotels, the city, the PCID, the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce and Dunwoody restaurants/retailers.

The public input process for our 20-year comprehensive plan is continuing. The next public forum will be on August 3rd at 7:00pm at Dunwoody United Methodist Church. This particular forum will focus attention on getting input on how Dunwoody residents would like to see several specific areas re-developed. These areas include the vacant hospital site, the Georgetown area, Dunwoody Village and the Winters Chapel/Peeler intersection. All of these are likely to be redeveloped in the next 20 years because of increasing land values in Dunwoody. How would you like to see those areas evolve? Would you be willing to accept taller buildings in exchange for added greenspace? How much taller? Please attend and help us develop our vision.

We completed our mid-year budget review and we are in sound financial shape. We are on-track to end the year with a small surplus. We will start our 2010 budget process soon and I will push for a five percent property tax rollback. To do that, we will have to continue to keep spending to a minimum.

Speaking of property taxes, you have probably gotten your annual property tax bill from the county. My bill was $355 higher than last year. Almost all of that we owe to the state discontinuing the HTRG (Homeowner Tax Relief Grant) credits they had been providing homeowners in previous years. Your Dunwoody city taxes are included on this bill and they replace the line item that used to read “Unincorporated Tax District”.

We are being very cautious about committing to new public works projects but we have approved funds for radar signs to be installed around each school in Dunwoody. These signs display your current speed. Case studies show that they are very effective at getting speeders to slow down. We hope to have them installed before school starts.

Here is an update on the Goddard School’s request for a stream buffer variance as part of their drive to start a new school on Dunwoody Village Parkway. This variance had been opposed by many of the neighboring homes and businesses because of concerns with traffic and noise. The Dunwoody Zoning Board of Appeals granted the variance request. The school will still need to get city approval for a great many items before construction begins but they have cleared the first hurdle.

Finally, Dunwoody scored a major billboard victory last week. A billboard company had applied to DeKalb County to put 9 large electronic billboards throughout Dunwoody on our day of incorporation last December. DeKalb had rightly rejected them. The billboard company sued both us and DeKalb. Last week the billboard company withdrew their lawsuit. Our legal team did a great job (and our insurance covered the legal expenses.)



Robert Wittenstein
Dunwoody City Council
Home Phone: 770-396-4747


Bob Fiscella said...

Robert talks about rolling back taxes 5 percent. Curious what your thoughts are.

John Heneghan said...


I would love to do it but let's make sure that the city is on a stable financial footing with enough reserves to cover unforeseen expenses. Year one had quite a bit of start up costs that we shouldn't have in year two so let's get through the budget cycle to see where we are before making those decisions.

I would also like to see a number of capital projects (roads & sidewalks) budgeted and in the pipeline prior to cutting taxes.

Bob as an active participant in the community, what are your thoughts?