Tuesday, June 30, 2015

INTRODUCING: Georgians for Local Area School Systems (GLASS)


Georgians For Local Area School Systems is an advocacy group working to amend the Georgia Constitution to allow the formation of independent school districts in order to improve student learning and graduation rates.  

GLASS representatives contacted me earlier this year after I completed Nancy Jester's commissioner website as they were getting ready for the new legislative season.  They needed a website that was modern, credible, and easy to maintain so it will become a resource for both the general citizenry and elected officials.  The logo was created by Heyward Wescott and the site theme was customized to match.

The website itself is in WordPress with a few easy add-ons to display a calendar, a Facebook feed, and multiple infographic slideshows.  We completed the text information last night and set up the menu so more can be added when the time comes.

SDOC is pleased to support our community in this effort.  The strength of any municipality relies in part on the strength of its schools.  If the current status quo isn't doing the job, then it's time to try a new idea.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Redevelopment By Neglect


Your community needs meeting space.  The inherited resources are limited.  You make sure to mention all of the wonderful activities and resources and citizen groups in your community when you make a speech, but you can't decide how to splice the locations for these elements in your budget.

You have historic properties and other civic properties available.  How do you use them to benefit your community?


You don't.  You let them rot for years until you can justify eliminating what you don't care for due to costs.  Then you hope the people who want to use them will just go away.

Next question:

How do you engage with and accommodate citizens with various priorities that are praised at civic functions but wrestled with in less-visible scenarios?


Is it the same as the first answer?
Stay tuned...

Friday, June 26, 2015

Death or Taxes

Nancy Jester Town Hall Meeting - How To Appeal Your DeKalb County Property Value Assessment  

Wednesday 1 July, 2015 7.00pm - 8.30pm
Dunwoody City Hall 41 Perimeter Center East, Dunwoody, GA 30346

Home business owners with licenses anywhere in DeKalb County:  check your tax assessments.  Your home is assessed $265 for sanitation.  However, your actual bill is likely to be $400 just because you have a business license.  Even if you do not produce any more trash than any other household.  Even if you are following every regulation to the letter.  Even though your home is designated as a residential area.  If you possess a 8.5 x 3.6 inch piece of paper, the County has reserved the right to re-designate your home as a "commercial" area and increase your taxes. 

Make sure to ask your local elected representatives and others running for office if they believe you should be fined for having a business license and why.  I plan on doing so and remembering the answers on election day.

If you live in Dunwoody, this meeting is even more critical.  It turns out that if you own your home, and your home has increased in value, you are entitled to a refund due to a snafu at City Hall.

Per the AJC, quoted on the Georgia Pundit blog:
The refunds will be paid as a result of reporting by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and questions raised by Sen. Fran Millar, R-Atlanta, and DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester.

The error occurred because Dunwoody officials didn’t notify the county, which handles the city’s tax billing, after voters approved a tax exemption during a November 2010 election, said Dunwoody Finance Director Christopher Pike. The measure passed with 81 percent of the vote.

The tax break provides residents with a discount on the city portion of their tax bills to negate tax increases caused by rising home values.

“It’s great news that the oversight was uncovered and remedied, but it’s still disturbing that this could be something that’s voted on and then all of a sudden it’s one big nevermind,” said Al Tiede, who has lived in Dunwoody for 24 years and believes he’ll receive a refund.

It’s unknown how many people are owed refunds and how much money they’ll receive. DeKalb Tax Commissioner Claudia Lawson said her office is reviewing tax bills from 2012 to 2014, and she plans to have more information next week.

Once the county recalculates taxes, the city will be billed and then refund checks will be mailed to residents, Lawson said.
AJC Article (requires subscription) 

GA Pundit

It's time to stop making mistakes, gang.  From slicing and dicing city codes during ratification to create massive loopholes to "forgetting" to inform DeKalb County of tax changes, to personal zoning tweaks that come dangerously close to ethics violations, to petty battles that lead to legal settlements and long-standing citizen feuds,  Dunwoody is at risk of becoming the corrupt incestuous enclave that our critics have claimed we always were.  Don't get me started on the philosophy of "redevelopment by neglect"  approach being taken with the theatre at Brook Run.  Lots of talk of community pride, and then (to quote my friend Al above)  "Nevermind".   

It's an election year.  Start paying attention to the details and taking them seriously if you want to earn (or keep) your seats. 

Let's hope no one running for office commits a JMax between now and November.  There's enough excitement to come.