Sunday, October 29, 2023

Dunwoody Councilman John Heneghan answers "re-election" questions by Dunwoody Reporter / Rought Draft Atlanta (Vision, Qualifications, Accomplishments, Challenges and Bond Referendum)

Ms. Cathy Cobbs of the Dunwoody Reporter sent a request for Dunwoody Candidates (both contested and unopposed) to answer 5 questions the citizens might want to know about before casting a ballot.  I guess I was a little long winded as the publication asked me to edit it down.  I did a bit editing and submitted the submission below. 

Of course the publication edited more and cropped some of my answers in their October 23rd on-line publication and I highlighted it on my blog without actually publishing what was said so that it could be available to the publications readers both on the web & in print without me scooping the story.  As it looks like the information will not be in print, I am posting my original content below and again providing a link to the story with the other candidates profiles.  Please take the time to read about all the candidates.

 2023 Election Guide: Dunwoody Mayor and City Council

1.    What is your vision for Dunwoody for the next four years and beyond, and what role will you play in achieving it?

Every year, I repost the City of Dunwoody Vision, Mission, and Values on my public blog (Heneghan’s Dunwoody Blog) to remind myself (and anyone else who might read it) of the ideals in which the city was founded and in which I strive to serve. The original vision for the City of Dunwoody was modified in 2022 and shortened to state that we will “foster a thriving, vibrant, and inclusive community with exceptional neighborhoods and an innovative, responsible business environment”.   As much as I agree with that statement, I will continue to fulfill that vision by governing under the more detailed, original version under which we were founded.   “The City of Dunwoody will provide quality service to its citizens and support the largest economic engine in the Southeast by planning in a careful and thoughtful manner. The City of Dunwoody will be inventive, transparent, and embrace responsible progress, tempered by the city’s rich history and strong desire to maintain a close and vibrant community atmosphere that values family life and the entrepreneurial spirit. The City of Dunwoody will continue to support and nurture a community dedicated to the preservation of family, education, religious institutions, and the environment.”  

As a founding member of the Dunwoody City Council, serving for the last 15 years, I have strived and will continue to meet these ideals.

2.    What makes you qualified to represent the citizens of Dunwoody? If you are running opposed, what strengths do you have that your opponent does not?

As a founding member of the Dunwoody City Council, where I have served for the last fifteen years, I am proud to say that I have had a hand in setting all policies from startup to current-day operations. Prior to Cityhood, I served on the Citizens for Dunwoody Committee, where I was the Transportation Chair. Prior to that, I was President of my neighborhood civic association, representing over 1,000 homes on governmental matters.

With a degree in Public Administration, I have dedicated myself to public service, where I hope to fulfill two ideals. The first is that when I have the ability to make a difference, I have a responsibility to do so and second, transparency in government breeds self-corrective behavior. Fifteen years ago, I made transparency and open government a keystone of my governance policy; therefore, I have personally published every agenda, every public document and even live-streamed meetings to my blog documenting actions taken by the city.

My motivation to continue serving is that I believe I have the ability to continue making a difference in making Dunwoody a better community for all who live and work here.

3.    What are the accomplishments of which you are most proud (either personally or professionally)?

Looking back on a wide variety of work, civic, and personal accomplishments, my proudest and most far-reaching decision was that I stepped outside my comfort zone, went for something way outside my league, I kissed the girl.

4.    What do you think are the biggest challenges that Dunwoody faces in the next four years?

Our biggest challenge in the next four years is financial planning and fiscal control, as I foresee a possible downturn in office valuation in the coming years because of lower occupancy rates when leases are not renewed or sublet. When office buildings have high vacancy rates, it lowers building valuation, which decreases tax revenue for the city. Our homeowner tax rate is already capped and frozen, with valuation increases only coming from recent sales or rental properties. Our operational expenses, namely police salaries & benefits, parks services, and IT, are rising faster than the city general operation revenue, yet we cannot utilize capital funds for operating expenses.    This general fund shortfall issue is just starting for us as salaries will continue to rise, new facilities will need to be maintained, and for me, the big problem will be the fact that our governmental administrative service contracts will need to be renegotiated as they all expire in a few years. Yet, revenue streams tied to property taxes are frozen by our Charter, with Dunwoody having the lowest tax rate in DeKalb County. Today, this is a minor issue as we have reserves to cover the downturn. In 2025, I see us in a similar, slightly worse situation; then in 2026, the City of Dunwoody will have contract renewals, which I anticipate will have substantial inflationary increases - even after rebidding them.

The second major challenge for the City of Dunwoody is ensuring that Perimeter Center remains vibrant, strong and safe; this includes our big box retail stores in Perimeter Mall. To keep this area thriving, we, the city leaders, need to ensure that all residents, shoppers, and workers feel safe from crime by guaranteeing an adequate police presence at the Mall. Perimeter Center has grown and will add thousands of new residents in the next few years because of High Street and other development; therefore, we will need to beef up police coverage in these areas to handle the additional workload.   A lack of future investment in police coverage would be short-sighted, and a long-term detriment to the value of Perimeter Center; therefore, much like my financial concerns, there is no way around this issue and it must be addressed head-on.

5.    Are you opposed or in favor of the bond referendum (and why or why not?)

As a sitting City Councilman, it is my job to formulate the best funding strategy for future investment in the community, and if that is a bond referendum, so be it. My job is to provide the best product for you, the citizens, to vote up or down. I believe the residents should only be requested to pay additional taxes for necessary items that make sense, the list should be ranked and allowable bond funds would only be used to complete that limited list. Finally, when there are several very different topics up for a bond, the issues should be divided into two separate ballot questions so that residents can approve or deny each project type.    

In my case, we the Council, obtained and purchased two new properties for parks; therefore due to current City funding constraints, a bond to build out those parks does makes sense to me. Unfortunately, Council as a whole also brought in the Path Foundation who is not an expert in putting paths (10 – 12 feet of concrete) in front of, or alongside single-family homes, yet recommends it in our community. I disagree with the appropriateness of these 12-foot sidewalks on several different levels, therefore, I voted at a City Council meeting against the City Path Plan (lone no vote). When the discussions on the possibility of a bond were being floated to the community for both Parks and Paths was being discussed, I asked that the topics be separated so that residents could vote for one and possibly against the other. That idea was quickly dismissed, and the Council decided that if they combine both projects into one bond referendum question, that it would pass, and the community could have both amenities. I asked that a hard list of projects be offered with the bond which would limit the Council from working outside what they originally projected the funds would be used for, but Council decided that a soft list offered maximum flexibility. When the Council voted to put the current bond effort before the electorate, I was the loan No vote. 

With the final vote being 6 to 1, this transfers the ultimate power of approval to the residents, and that is what will be happening in the Nov 7th general election ballot box. As a city councilman, it is not my responsibility to tell anyone on how to vote on a referendum; instead, it is my job to present you bond referendum questions that are appropriate, fiscally sound, transparent, non-divisive and promote an environment of honesty, openness and integrity. Unfortunately, my desire for different bond questions were not realized; therefore it is that reality that we are dealing with today. 

As far as my recommendation on your vote, I am not going to offer advice as I’m sure you will make the best decision.

Dunwoody City Council Agenda for Monday October 30, 2023 (Budget, AMR Ambulance Contract, BerryDunn Police Report)

Monday October 30, 2023 - 6:00 PM


Agenda 6 pm  - City Site Agenda 

City Council meetings are live-streamed on the City of Dunwoody’s Facebook page

They are also available for viewing (no two way communication) on Zoom, or  phone +14703812552,,82324264973#

You can access the video after the meeting on the City of Dunwoody’s YouTube page.

Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance

Citizens' Police Academy Class XIII Graduating Class Brief

Administration of Oath of Office to Officer Jakori Edwards

Public comments - in person 3 min each / 30 min max with additional at end of meeting if needed.

Proclamation - "Diwali, the Festival of Lights Day"

Public Hearing & Resolution Adopting Fiscal Year 2024 Budget

On-Call Sidewalk and Small Construction Projects Unit Price Contract

Approval of Contract with DeKalb County and AMR for Additional Ambulance Service

Presentation of BerryDunn Police Department Operations & Management Assessment Final Report

Facility Usage Agreements with Athletic Association Partners

Contract Award for the Installation of a HVAC Control System at City Hall

Friday, October 27, 2023

Dunwoody City Council to review the BerryDunn Police Department Operations & Management Assessment on Monday.

Monday Night the Dunwoody City Council will be approving the 2024 budget, we will be spending close to $600K of Federal funds in order to contract for an additional EMS (Ambulance) to stay in Dunwoody and we will be reviewing the BerryDunn Police Department Operations & Management Assessment for the City of Dunwoody, GA. 

I need to read the BerryDunn report in full detail another time but the main immediate take away is the report recommends adding three new police officers and adding four Community Service Officer (non-sworn).  My guess is Council will want to follow the recommendations (I do), we just need to find the funding (in either cuts or additional revenue) to do so.   Below is the link to the full file.



Thursday, October 26, 2023

Band X - Atlanta's Party Band is closing out the Final Dunwoody Food Truck Thursday

Band X - Atlanta's Party Band

Please bring the entire family to Brook Run Park Thursday Night as there will be something for everyone!!!

Help us close out the Dunwoody Food Truck Thursday season with food trucks, live music, and candy galore! Food trucks will be in their usual spot between the skate park and playground; live music by Band X, Dunwoody Police and Parks & Rec candy tables will be in the front field.
Happy Halloween!

Food Truck lineup for Oct. 26:

Bussin’ Jerk
My’s Vietnamese
Taza Lebanese
We do Fish + Things 

Food Truck Thursdays are presented by the Dunwoody Homeowners Association

Monday, October 23, 2023

2023 Election Guide: Dunwoody Mayor and City Council (Deutsch, Heneghan, Harris vs Ozor, and Seconder vs. Lopez) @RoughDraftATL

2023 Election Guide: Dunwoody Mayor and City Council by Cathy Cobbs of Rough Draft Atlanta

A special thanks to Ms. Cathy Cobbs of Rough Draft Atlanta for asking important questions of the Dunwoody Mayoral and City Council candidates.  Mayor Deutsch and myself are running unopposed whereby Incumbent Stacey Harris is challenged by Chris Ozor, and Incumbent Joe Seconder is challenged by Marianella López.   The questions are as follows ...

What is your vision for Dunwoody for the next four years and beyond, and what role will you play in achieving it?

What makes you qualified to represent the citizens of Dunwoody? 

What are the accomplishments of which you are most proud (either personally or professionally)? 

What do you think are the biggest challenges that Dunwoody will face in the next four years?

Are you opposed to or in favor of the bond referendum?

As you read the article differentiating the candidates highlighted, my answers may be slightly different from the others but then I also have concerns as to the current finances needed to run the city; thereby a close watch of our finances is needed in the coming year.  If you haven't watched the last Dunwoody City Council Meeting, which contains the Budget Hearing, I highly recommend you do so here & here as I outline my concerns and my belief that we need to beef up the police budget in both numbers and pay.

Early voting is available this week at the Dunwoody Library, 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m through Saturday Oct 28th plus they are also open Sunday October 29th from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

If you are looking for more information on the $60 million dollar Parks Bond, there is an informational meeting, which is open to the general public, taking place in my neighborhood therefore I was asked to join in to share the facts as I see them.   I will be joining Dunwoody City Councilmember Tom Lambert (and possibly others from staff?) in the discussion taking place on Sunday, Oct 29th @ 7pm at the Dunwoody North Driving Club Clubhouse located at 4522 Kingsgate Dr, Dunwoody, GA 30338.

I know one of the many concerns over the proposed bond is the paths in general and when it comes to the North Peachtree Path connecting the apartment complex where many students live, connecting it to Chesnut, Peachtree Middle and Brook Run; there are even more questions on that segment of path in this neighborhood.  

Besides a new Hawk Crossing Light that is already scheduled to be in front of Chesnut in early 24, the proposed North Peachtree path is preliminary designed to be on the West Side (School Side) which means that it will not directly improve the safety of walkers that are primarily on the East Side unless additional crossing guards are added at the apartment complex and a few other places.   Then there is the timing of this improvement which looks to be in phase two on the priority list, if this measure moves forward you would think the path directly adjacent to public schools would have top priority.  If this bond referendum passes, I will be pushing this topic and guess it will also be up for discussion on Sunday. Join us.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Scout Troop 477 and 1919’s annual Halloween Farm Festival on Saturday, October 21, Noon to 6:00pm at Donaldson-Bannister Farm

Come enjoy Scout Troop 477 and 1919’s annual Halloween Farm Festival on Saturday, October 21, Noon to 6:00pm at Donaldson-Bannister Farm at 4831 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road.

Kids of all ages can go on the “Trick or Treat Mystery Adventure”, help solve the mystery and get candy! Enjoy games with prizes, crafts, a petting zoo, live music, and an outdoor food court with fresh grilled burgers, hot dogs, chicken or veggie burritos, fresh fruit and more. Don't miss Dunwoody's favorite fall tradition, hosted with support from Dunwoody Preservation Trust.

Costumes are Welcome!

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Dunwoody City Council Meeting Video - 2024 Budget & Beyond Conversation

The Dunwoody City Council met on October 16th to have the first 2024 Budget hearing and handle other business. As most residents only learn of what happens at Council meetings via second hand news reports, I thought I would highlight what I thought was an important meeting, primarily as we discussed the future financial plans of the city.  The second read and scheduled vote on the 2024 Budget will be happening at our next meeting, Monday October 30th.

Here is a link to the proposed 2024 Budget that cleared the budget committee.

I have uploaded the meeting video to my server space and I will highlight a few conversations that I think you should watch; not that I am purposely skipping any other topics, participants, Mayor or Council-member statements or other public commenters as not being relevant; please do watch the entire meeting.  Mayor Deutsch and Stacey Harris both gave touching remarks regarding the horrific events happening in Israel, the support of the community and the Dunwoody Police Department.

Please go to the Vimeo page to watch the meeting video, and if you click the "Read More" link you will see the same description and text as I state below, but the beauty is that the meeting time stamps are active and you can watch that segment without scrolling through.  Closed Captioning is also available, just click the CC in the bottom right corner.  I hope this is recap is informational.

In Public Comment, at 6:22 Bob Hickey highlights the need to prioritize police spending and asks us how we are going to rectify deficit spending not only this year but in the coming future. This gentleman's public comment was very germane to the 20224 Budget Hearing and discussions that we were going to have later in the evening on what the Council's plan is for addressing the long term structural deficit.

At 09:20 residents Michael Rock and Erika Harris (both people I know and respect) gave two very different pro-bond statements with Erika asking for the city to spread more bond information with a direct mailer to every resident.

In the City Manager report there is an item where a resident waited an hour for emergency transport and after waiting an extended time, the mother decided to drive their child to the hospital.  Deputy Chief addressed my concern and a bit later at 40:49 Mayor Deutsch followed up with the Deputy Chief regarding an additional dedicated ambulance.

At 45:52 Finance Director Richard Platto starts his presentation and discusses the budget process and the numbers. At 1:09:47 Council member Stacey Harris, who served as this years Budget Committee Chair, described what the budget committee (Harris, Seconder & Heneghan) did and our thoughts on expanding the police department and providing raises in 2024 (that are not currently budgeted). Council member Robert Price asked a follow up question and we discussed the assessor's valuations and estimated tax digest when released in May.

At 1:17:40 Councilman Tom Lambert discusses the budget, the need for community investment, an analogy to the Atlanta Beltline which raised the tax digest in that area was made, with the thoughts that same tax digest bump could happen here in Dunwoody thereby, slowing or reversing the structural deficit.

At 1:27:30 Councilman Heneghan questions the Finance Director on revenue breakdowns (Residential / Commercial / Office). Heneghan discusses the city financial outlook as he sees it, locked revenue streams, concern over office vacancy rates, police funding (both the lack of raises and the additional number of officers needed as per professional analysis), the anticipated administrative contract raises in 2026, and finally his concerns over the $3.3 million dollars in the 2024 budget (on top of what might be approved in the $60 million dollar bond) being banked to fund multi-use (10 - 12 ft) paths in front of single family homes. Council member Heneghan agreed with investments in the community are needed especially as related to parks but wishes that Council split the bond referendum into two questions.  He like the Finance Director has concerns moving forward and he stated that we have work to do.

At 1:34:33 Mayor Deutsch confirmed with the Finance Director that the $3.3 million being set aside for paths in front of single family homes in this budget is from Capital funds and not Operational funds, therefore can not be used to fund additional police or provide raises.  She then went on to discuss if there was ever a drastic downturn (worst case scenario) that budget cuts could be made, she stated that we will take care of our police officers, she would hire 10 more officers tomorrow if we could, she discussed using more non-sworn officers.  She discussed the work she is doing at the State Capital regarding EMS & ambulance service rules to free up officer time.  She discusses police hiring, retention as a priority, as hiring officers is very difficult. Mayor Deutsch discussed office vacancies, she too has concerns but also sees glimmers of hope.

At 2:08:05 Councilman Seconder outlines how the City staff will work with residents directly affected by City projects. He read a statement from a homeowner who wants the 10 - 12 foot shared use path in their front yard.

At 2:13:30 the Mayor closes the meeting with comments that if the HOST & SPLOST ballot items don't pass, that your tax bill will go up.  She had an interesting comparison between Sandy Springs and Dunwoody Tax bills which shows the differences of Fulton vs DeKalb and then the special financing requirements placed on Dunwoody during incorporation.  The Mayor said that we will need to look closely at the fiscal reality that the City is in, reviewing the restrictions of incorporation and the promises made at the start of the city.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Dunwoody City Council Agenda for Monday October 16th (2024 Budget Hearing, City Manager Report & Drive Through regulation update.)

Monday October 16, 2023 - 6:00 PM


Agenda 6 pm  - City Site Agenda 

City Council meetings are live-streamed on the City of Dunwoody’s Facebook page

They are also available for viewing (no two way communication) on Zoom, or  phone +14702509358,,83571238287#

You can access the video after the meeting on the City of Dunwoody’s YouTube page.

Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance

Public comments - in person 3 min each / 30 min max with additional at end of meeting if needed.

Proclamation - Lynne O'Brien Day

City Manager's Report

Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Presentation - Public Hearing

Approval of City Council, Planning Commission, and Zoning Board of Appeals 2024 Meeting Schedules 

Authorization for Stormwater Inventory and Survey Contract

SECOND READ: Review and Consideration of a Text Amendment to Update the List of Exempted Activities in Stream Buffers

SECOND READ: Review and Consideration of a Text Amendment to Regulate Drive-Through Facilities

Construction Agreement with the Georgia Department of Transportation for the Ashford Dunwoody Eastbound On-Ramp Widening Project

On-Call Sidewalk and Small Construction Projects Unit Price Contract

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Dunwoody Ballot Questions ($60 million Bond, $59 Million SPLOST II and the EHost Tax Reduction for Homeowners) Open House - Thursday 6 PM at City Hall

Thursday October 12th
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Dunwoody City Hall
4800 Ashford Dunwoody Road
Dunwoody, Georgia 30338

The City of Dunwoody will hold a Ballot Questions Open House from 6:00 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 12, 2023 at Dunwoody City Hall, Dunwoody Hall, 4800 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody, Georgia 30338.

Residents are invited to stop by to learn more about the ...

City of Dunwoody Bond Referendum, general obligation bond not to exceed $60 Million for parks and recreational areas, greenspace and trails.   Bond Package approved by Council

Wildcat Park & Homecoming Park Master Plans

Brook Run Park Improvements

Waterford Park Improvements

Mount Vernon Road Trail

Village Crossroads

Winters Chapel Multiuse Trail Phase II

N. Peachtree Road Multiuse Trail

DeKalb SPLOST II is a continuation of the 1% percent sales tax bringing $59 Million to Dunwoody over the next six years.   The DeKalb video here does a nice job explaining the SPLOST II & Host.


Equalized Homestead Option Sales Tax (EHOST) is a continuation of another 1% percent sales tax to reduce taxes to homeowners.

 all of which will be on the ballot for the General Election on November 7.

An activity table for kids will be available and suported by volunteers from the Youth City Council at Dunwoody High School.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Dunwoody Lawn Aeration available this weekend, starting at just $100.00 contact Declan Heneghan - DHS Academy of Finance

Lawn Aeration available this weekend starting at $100.00

My youngest son Declan is a Senior at Dunwoody High School and is enrolled in the Academy of Finance where part of the class is starting your own business.  Declan and his friend Steven Crespo have paired up to start a lawn aerating business and are now taking reservations for this weekend (Saturday & Sunday, October 14 / 15th). 

In order to achieve and maintain a beautiful lawn, you should employ basic lawn care practices such as properly mowing, fertilizing and watering. It is also important to ensure that nutrients can reach the soil beneath your grass. Aeration can be an extremely vital element to a healthy lawn because it allows air and water to penetrate built-up grass or lawn thatch.  The main reason for aerating is to alleviate soil compaction. Excess lawn thatch or heavy organic debris buried under the grass surface can also starve the roots from these essential elements.

If you have ever tried to aerate your own yard, it is a lot of work.  Renting the unit, hauling it on a truck, removing the heavy machinery from your truck, having the machine drag you around your yard (my knees can't take it), cleaning the machine prior to return, refueling, and returning to the store. The boys are offering a wonderful service at a great price and are hoping to be very busy!
As weather is forecasted to rain this week, the boys are renting one of the best machines on the market whereby the aeration will remove soil plugs approximately 2 — 3 inches deep.  This soft soil will pull wonderful plugs.  Once the aerating is completed, you the homeowner just need to spread some seed and maybe a little fertilizer or lime and your lawn will look better than ever in a few weeks.

This is what the boys will provide.
  • They will walk your yard looking for hazards such as water boxes, exposed sprinkler heads ect; in order to attempt to miss them.  Boys are not responsible for hidden hazards below grade.
  • One boy will be running the machine, while the other is evaluating the job completed, pointing out places missed and then the boys switch tasks running the machine and judging the work.   
  • Once a number of passes have been completed over the entire yard and both boys (and you) are satisfied with the quality of the work; they will move to their next customer.
Prices are as follows, for a typical Dunwoody front yard with average slope the cost is only $100
Corner yards with a front and a side are $125 as are yards with a heavy slope.   Large yards with a heavy slope might be more so please discuss with the boys prior to start.

If you are interested in aeration, please send your name and address to email Declan at or you can send a Facebook messenger note or a text to 770-634-2083.  The boys are planning on working all day Saturday & Sunday and will pick the day and time based on weather and job consolidation. Once they receive your request, they will confirm the requested work order.

Once the job is completed (or you can pay in advance), you can pay in cash or via Venmo at the link below and if you believe the boys did a great job and worked your lawn with care, please feel free to throw the boys a little extra as this fundraising effort is to defray the costs of attending the DHS Field Trip to New York City in November.      Thanks

PS: I, Councilman John Heneghan will be the boys driver for the weekend therefore I am happy to fill the 30 plus minutes of time chatting about anything that you may be interested in chatting about.  I guess I am just an added bonus if you would like to talk during the boys time servicing your lawn.  PSS: fyi I am always available to talk - you don't need to do this, to do it.  Just reach out, 678-491-8228.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

All Saints Pumpkin Sale - Starts Today in Dunwoody

Hundreds of pumpkins to choose from with a huge variety of unusual colors and styles.

Profits fund the Knights of Columbus community charitable efforts.

All Saints Catholic Church
2443 Mt Vernon Rd,
Dunwoody, GA, United States, Georgia