The mayor of Georgia’s youngest city told residents they could expect to vote on a referendum in November that would raise taxes to pay for parks and greenspace.
The remark came Feb. 10 during Dunwoody Mayor Ken Wright’s state of the city address for Dunwoody, which incorporated in 2008.
Wright said residents can expect the city council to support a referendum that would ask for a 1.5-mill tax increase. That would raise $56 million to fund Dunwoody’s parks and greenspace master plan, which is being worked on. It would take about $61 million to implement the master plans, Wright said.
“There is no way in our $16- or $18-million annual budget that we would ever be able to get anything done as far as improving our parks or acquiring parcels,” Wright said. “It’s just not there and it will never be there.”
Wright said a recent study of the city’s parks showed that Dunwoody’s greenspace is woefully inadequate when compared to any nearby municipality.
“We are way, way under the mark,” Wright said.
Dunwoody has a pending lawsuit, filed in December, against DeKalb County for more than $7 million it claims is left more than from a voter-approved bond referendum for developing Brook Run Park. Dunwoody, which took over the park in August 2010, claims that $4.5 million has been spent on the park.
In addition to the greenspace plan and one specifically for Brook Run Park, Dunwoody is working on a transportation plan.
“These things are just immensely important–not the most exciting things to most people, but they are critical to the success of this city,” Wright said.
The city’s 2010 budget was $18 million for a city that Wright expects to have approximately 50,000 residents when the latest census results come in.
“We do a ton with relatively little,” Wright said. “As a city, we’re very deliberate, very cautious, very conservative, and I think you can see that in the way we operate day-to-day.”
Nearby Sandy Springs has a budget of $90 million and is approximately twice the size of Dunwoody, Wright said.
With pictures being projected of Dunwoody and its residents at various 2010 events, and with audience participation, Wright’s address seemed more like a talk show than a mayoral presentation.
Near the beginning of his address, Wright allowed his children, Clayton, 8, and Cassidy, 10, to speak to the audience.
Clayton said he wanted to know why the president and governor both have limousines, but not the mayor of Dunwoody.