Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,
On a personal note, I'd like to congratulate my son, Eric, on his graduation from Chamblee Charter High School. Eric will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall and Susan and I are very proud of him.
We have requested turnover of the parks property in accordance with the recent legislation passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Perdue. If all goes according to plan, we will assume ownership of Brook Run, Dunwoody Nature Center, Donaldson-Chesnut house, Dunwoody Park baseball fields, Windward Hollow and a couple of other smaller properties around June 18. We are excited about the opportunity and the challenge to begin investing in our parks properties. We are currently looking for a parks manager to work in our Public Works department.
We have received the property tax valuations from the county. The total value of our residential property in Dunwoody went down by 1.3%. Commercial property values were up about 2% and the result is that the value of property in Dunwoody is virtually unchanged from last year. In June, we will set our property tax rate for 2010 and we will leave it unchanged from last year--so no tax increase.
In June we will also consider whether to give DeKalb notice that we want to terminate our agreement for them to provide us with our 911 dispatch service. This is a big deal. DeKalb's 911 dispatch services have been uneven and inconsistent. It is clearly the weakest link in our emergency responder chain. Often DeKalb's 911 center answers quickly and dispatches efficiently. But at other times they have more incoming calls than they can handle and calls are put on hold for 1-10 minutes before a dispatch operator answers the call. This delays dispatch of police, fire and emergency medical.
This is a big deal because we can't bring this service in-house or afford to partner with another nearby city without committing approximately $400,000 in general operating funds. We can provide a much higher level of service but at a higher cost. If we funded this through property taxes, the average Dunwoody family would see their taxes rise by $22 per year in 2011.
Below is a link to an on-line survey. (It only has one question.) Please take a moment and give me your thoughts on this issue.
Take 911 on-line survey.
I will share the results in my next e-mail update. I am inclined to support this but with great caution. We do not want this to be the first of many requests to voters, "If you give us more money we can do all these wonderful things..." as it cannot become a habit. I believe strongly in living within our means and keeping government to a minimum. I also realize that all of us have suffered in this economic downturn and money is tight. All of that said, I think this is something we should consider because of its impact on our ability to provide emergency response when our residents need it most.
Finally, congratulations to Doug Thompson, our newest city council member. Doug replaces Tom Taylor who has resigned to run to represent Dunwoody in the Georgia House in the seat Fran Millar is vacating. Fran is running to replace Dan Weber in the Georgia Senate.
(Note from John, please read this evaluation before you vote and remember that a Dunwoody 911 system will only directly communicate with our Police Department and that all other emergency calls will still need to be routed to DeKalb dispatch for Rescue and Fire Services. The system will not be flawless, because of cell phone technology some calls near the borders will be answered by DeKalb, Sandy Spring and Gwinnett County 911 centers that will still need to be transferred to the correct location.
The City Council takes ultimate responsibility for the safety of the citizens and if we feel that we are not getting adequate protection we have the obligation to be looking at all options along with their financial ramifications. Some say a 911 switch alone will be a big improvement while others say that we may need to also start our own Fire Department & Rescue EMS too. All options are on the table, including some innovative ones that work well elsewhere and they are being studied from every angle.)
Please take Robert's survey, write comments on the blog or e-mail me directly as I will not be making any hasty decisions and do value your input. Thanks, John.