Sunday, March 12, 2006

Dunwoody won't become city this year

Bill delayed until 2007 Legislature
Charles Yoo - Staff
Sunday, March 12, 2006

A bill to make Dunwoody a city will be withdrawn from the current legislative session and instead reintroduced next year, said the legislation's chief architect on Saturday.

State Sen. Dan Weber (R-Dunwoody) said the postponement of Senate Bill 568 would give plenty of time for voters to assess the benefits and disadvantages of incorporating the north DeKalb community, which has an estimated population of 40,000.

The passage of the bill would have let voters decide in a referendum whether they'd like a city government of their own with a mayor and council.

Weber's announcement came at a forum to unveil the findings of a feasibility study to determine the costs of Dunwoody's incorporation on taxpayers. Fewer than 100 attended the meeting at Perimeter College's Dunwoody campus.

"It might be better" to delay the process, said Weber. "After all the questions have been answered."

Weber said he'll reintroduce the bill next year and shoot for a referendum in July 2007, pending the state Legislature's approval.

Some budgetary questions were answered on Saturday through the feasibility study, conducted by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia at Athens. According to preliminary findings, homeowners may have to accept a tax hike.

The study examined three metro Atlanta cities --- Kennesaw, Peachtree City and Duluth --- and assessed how much the municipal governments spend per capita. That number was $491. But, for Dunwoody to match the services and spend that much, it would need at least an additional $65 per capita in income, according to the research.

"Something for nothing, which a lot of people think [about], doesn't exist," said Paula Yeary, the chief researcher of the feasibility study.

Supporters have argued that Dunwoody, a pricey real estate market in DeKalb, deserves a better, smaller government to determine zoning and public safety issues. Their effort has been emboldened by Sandy Spring's success in creating a municipal government.

But still, many folks are undecided and anxious to know exactly how much such a dream would cost in additional taxes.

If Dunwoody becomes a city, it will include Perimeter Center, a corporate corridor with Perimeter Mall and the county's largest tax base, which DeKalb officials say contributes $21 million a year to the county's budget.