Monday, November 30, 2009

City of Dunwoody Update by Councilman Robert Wittenstein

Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,

This is Thanksgiving weekend and I’d like to start by saying how thankful I am that Dunwoody residents have entrusted me with the responsibility to help lead our new city. I am humbled by the task and feel the responsibility deeply. I am often asked whether I’m enjoying my role as an elected official or whether it is what I expected. My answer is that it is time consuming but very rewarding. Thank you all for giving me the opportunity to serve.

I am tremendously thankful for our city staff. They do the hardest job every day. Warren Hutmacher has done a phenomenal job as City Manager. He was a wonderful choice and has done a great job. We have a city that operates quickly and efficiently and provides excellent customer service. We have vendor/partners who are performing well and being held to a high standard of performance.

Tuesday, December 1st marks our one-year anniversary of cityhood and it is appropriate, I think, to take a look back and a look forward.

In our first year, our challenge was to set up the city and establish a world-class police department. Chief Grogan has done an excellent job building a department that is responsive, professional and dedicated. Public safety will always be our number one priority and our largest annual expenditure.

In our first year, we have also answered the question posed repeatedly during the debate over incorporation: “Can we operate the city at a higher level of service than we were getting from DeKalb without a tax increase?” The answer is a resounding yes. We will end the year with a comfortable budget surplus despite the start-up costs we had to incur.

In 2010 we need to focus on planning. Next year, we will complete our 20-year city-wide Comprehensive Land Use Plan, a Transportation Plan and detailed re-development plans for Dunwoody Village and the Georgetown/Shallowford area. These plans will help guide our long range future. We have two more public meetings planned for January to seek resident input and I encourage you to participate. I’ll publish the dates and times next month.

We also need to begin working on repaving. We are just completing a survey (done by a laser truck that has driven over every street in Dunwoody) of the condition of all our roads and next year we will begin repaving the ones in the worst condition. Road paving is done partly with city funds and partly with gasoline tax revenue collected by the state and distributed to local governments according to a complicated formula. We have submitted our paperwork to be included in the 2010 allocations but we do not yet know how much of the state funds we will have available. Getting this state money will drive the timetable for when we can begin repaving work.

Our other major challenge for 2010 will be to secure city control over the parks in Dunwoody so we can begin to rehabilitate them. The Dunwoody Nature Center, Dunwoody Park ballfields, Brook Run, the Donaldson-Chesnut House and the DeKalb Cultural Arts Center all need much better ongoing maintenance and long-term investment through a capital spending program.

Happy Holidays to everyone!


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