Friday, April 2, 2010

Dunwoody City Update from Councilman Robert Wittenstein

Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,

This month, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that Dunwoody was entitled to a small share of the HOST sales tax revenue collected in DeKalb.  Most of the $80-100 million collected each year in sales tax in DeKalb is used to reduce our residential property tax.  Some is earmarked for capital/infrastructure projects.  During the cityhood movement, we asked the state legislature to help ensure that some of that money would be available to Dunwoody and they passed a provision setting aside a small portion for us to direct.  The County tried to stop the distribution in state court but lost.  That means that Dunwoody will receive from $2-3 million each year for capital projects.

This revenue forms the bulk of the funds we will use to repave our streets.  The same week we won the court case, we earmarked funds to work on the first group of streets.  Some people may wonder how we picked them.  We have agreed as a city council that politics will not play any role in deciding what streets to pave.  Getting your street paved in Dunwoody will not be about who you know.  It will be dictated by the condition of the road and the amount of traffic that road receives.  This year we will complete the following:

Street Range Activity
Vernon Lake Drive from Mt. Vernon to Trowbridge Dr. Deep patch and pave
Vernon North Drive from Mt. Vernon Way to end Deep patch and pave
Dunwoody Club Drive from Happy Hollow to Winters Chapel Mill and pave
Winters Chapel from city limits to Charmant Place Mill and pave
Joberry Court from Chestnut Ridge to end Deep patch and pave
Amberly Court N from Amberly Way to end Deep patch and pave
Trapnell Court from Vernon Lake Drive to end Deep patch and pave
Littlebrooke Ridge from Littlebrooke Drive to end Deep patch and pave
Littlebrooke Way from Brookelake Drive to end Deep patch and pave
Hidden Branches Court from Hidden Branches Drive to end Deep patch and pave
Ashford Center Parkway from Ashford Dunwoody to Womack Patching
Chamblee-Dunwoody Road from Buckline Crossing to Nerine Circle Patching
North Peachtree Road from Peachford to Barclay Patching
Spalding Drive from Chamblee Dunwoody to Weldstone Patching

We all recognize that this is a modest beginning for streets that have been neglected for many, many years.  We are establishing a 5-year paving plan.  Below is a link to the map of Dunwoody that shows the streets we expect to improve over the next five years.  We will re-look at this plan each year to make sure we are working on the streets in most need of repair.

 Dunwoody 5-Year Paving Plan Map

While I am gratified that this is many times more road work than we would have received from DeKalb, I worry that it may not be enough to gain ground on the years of neglect.  It costs a lot more to fix roads that are in bad condition than it does to provide lighter repairs to roads in fair condition.  In the long term, the most cost-effective way to tackle this would be to invest heavily over the next few years to bring our roads up to a higher standard and then spend our money  to keep roads from getting into bad shape.  That, however, would either require us to borrow money or raise taxes.  I don't know how the rest of the council feels, but I'm loath to support either.  So for now, we may have to curb our impatience to do more than we can afford.

As an update from last month, the proposed ordinance to severely restrict, but not prohibit, backyard chicken coops fell one vote short, so it did not pass.  The proposal to attempt to tax and regulate taxicabs based elsewhere but coming into Dunwoody to pick up passengers also failed.  Thank you to all of you who replied to my e-mail last month; I got over a hundred replies.

On a final note, we are starting to see a little bit of rezoning activity.  For the first time since we became a city we have a couple of rezoning requests working their way through the process.  I hope this is a sign that our economy is starting to improve.



Helen said...

It's time to stop bashing Dekalb county. It's unfair to claim that the City is in a predicament due to road neglect by the county when Dunwoody has yet to pave a single street. My adjoining street was paved by the county just prior to cityhood and my street was rated just slightly better. Now I see that it's not even on the five year plan.

What happened to all the extra revenue that Dunwoody Yes claimed we would have if we incorporated?

Rick Callihan said...


I'll agree bashing DeKalb is not needed much any more, but it is fair to point out that DeKalb DID neglect our roads. If your road was paved by DeKalb then you were very lucky. You must have some important people on your street. Although we'd all like to see every street paved tomorrow, funds are not there yet. As Robert informed me a while back, even the our big brother city Sandy Springs did not start paving for about three years after incorporation.

We need to look to the future instead of the past, but not forget the past. DeKalb did the bare minimum (perhaps less)when it came to street maintenance in Dunwoody, even more so after the city hood movement. I don't have the numbers here, but the miles of streets paved here was much less than other sections of DeKalb.

Helen said...

I can assure you that nobody important lives on my street. John posted the county's analysis of roads prior to cityhood and our adjoining road was rated (I believe) a 37, while ours was rated a 35. I looked fairly closely at the list at the time, noted the worst roads, and drove around to find that the county did pave the ones deemed the worst. Those rated above a 33 or so (do you remember this document, John?) were scheduled to be repaved in the near future.

While I'm sure that Dekalb did not pave all roads that should have been paved, I think we can all understand a bit the huge capital outlay that is required for road maintenance.

Rick, do you know how much Dunwoody Yes budgeted for yearly road maintenance in their cityhood proposal documents?

John Heneghan said...

All Citizens for Dunwoody Task Force Reports

DeKalb Paving List

Final Task Force Transportation Report

Ken Thompson said...

A couple of key historical facts.

First, the Task Force reports were not made available to the public before the referendum. Almost no one voted for cityhood with full knowledge of what they were getting into or the plans for their future--it was an act of faith, not intellect.

The county was repairing roads. Probably not to the satisfaction of some, and the referendum certainly constituted a "cease and desist" order. There are still signs of work in progress on Chamblee Dunwoody--orange outline, pavement cut...then the city took over. The city did nothing to coordinate a handover of these projects to carry them to completion.

The city has access to franchise fees that the county did not. This is a significant part of city revenue going into the general fund. More money...less service...not what was promised.

The city has been in operation less than two years and we've managed to plan a couple of "retreats", ban strip joints, outlaw chickens, threaten to dump county garbage service and force everyone to pay for recycling, spend 42 cents of every dollar on a police force that doesn't patrol our school zones as well as the county did, but paving has somehow fallen through the cracks.