Thursday, April 5, 2012

Is Dunwoody Getting All of its Money For ChatComm?

When Dunwoody incorporated, the city government became entitled to taxes and fees collected at various levels to support their services.  That was reinforced when Dunwoody joined up with Sandy Springs and Johns Creek in their ChatComm 911 service.  One of the taxes collected by the phone company is supposed to be set aside for ChatComm, instead of DeKalb County 911.

The utilities have been slow to get on the stick and realize that Dunwoody is its own city (with three four zip codes) and the taxes they collect have to be redirected.  Last year, I received a polite letter from Georgia Power that boiled down to "Oops, we just realized that even though you're in the 30360 zip code and our database classifies that as Doraville and/or Unincorporated DeKalb County, you're really in Dunwoody and we have to collect some more money from you.  So don't freak out when you see your next bill."  Good enough, at least they realized the update on their own and didn't let the backlogged charges get out of control before correcting it.

I wish AT&T was equally sharp.  As I scaled that mountain of paper that is on my desk this time of year, I noticed that the phone bill still had DeKalb County listed as the recipient of 911 taxes.  Being a good Dunwoodian, I got on the phone to AT&T customer service to point out the discrepancy.  How hard could it be?  Google Maps can show you where the boundaries of the city are and the fact that my home address is inside of them.  No brainer, right?

Called customer service number.  Went through the "press 1 for...." maze.  Got to a representative.  Explained the incorporation and change in 911 services.  "Oh that's a billing question.  Let me transfer you."

Get to billing. Confirm my account number.  Explain the 911 services change.  Again.  "I don't have anything to do with that, I just take payments.  Would you like to make a payment?"  Not on the phone, thanks.  "I can transfer you to customer service."  I just came from there.  "Well I can't change that from here."  Looks like I'm going back to customer service then.

Back to voice mail jail.  Dialing to get to representative.  Ask for a supervisor this time because First Dude wasn't quite on the ball.  Representative stalls me and I go through the tax question.  Again.  "Hmmmmm...  let me try to enter it manually." D-U-N-W-O-O-D-Y.  "No, it isn't taking it.  The city is dictated by the ZIP code."  But my city has three four zip codes.  "I understand but they're going to have to adjust the database."  Who is "they"?  Who do I have to be transferred to?  "Well you can't just call them.  You have to go down to your local government and have a statement signed by the mayor confirming that you're in a new city."  I have to get the mayor to write a letter?  "Yes, or some elected official."  But you can see on any map website that this is a city and what the boundaries are and where my address is.  "That's the procedure."  Ummmmm...  I think I need to call back later.  CLICK.

For me, there is no difference - I pay the same $1.50 per month.  But the feasibility of the ChatComm conversion was based on the projection that phone taxes would be allocated to ChatComm and not siphoned off by the county.  How many taxes due to ChatComm are being lost because Dunwoody has three four zip codes, two three of which overlap with other municipalities?

If City Hall wants to collect all of the fees its entitled to, they're going to have to do some legwork.  AT&T at least isn't going to take the word of their customers or MapQuest.

(Thanks, Rick, for reminding me about part of 30350 being in Dunwoody.  That has to be worse - overlapping with another county in addition to other cities.)

UPDATE:  Terry Nall and John Heneghan forwarded this post to the City Manager's office when they read it and I received a very quick response from Kimberly Greer in Warren's office.  They did the legwork I suggested and it seems my experience was the exception rather than the rule.  I am very relieved that that is the case.  I still believe a full, regular audit of telecoms for ChatComm fees would be a good idea to make sure that these exceptions stay exceptions and don't become a regular feature.  Thanx, everybody!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Brusters Returns to Dunwoody!

Per the Dunwoody CVB--
Brusters Ice Cream is returning to Dunwoody Village.

All you parents with teens:  I hear a handful of summer jobs coming your way!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Online Real Estate Scheme - WARNING

From WSB Channel 2
Criminals have found a new way to victimize potential renters using legitimate MLS listings.
Crooks have taken photos and listings, posted legitimately on MLS and created fake "for rent" listings.  It started on CraigsList (which most people know is not the most trustworthy of classified ad sites) but has been extended to other known real estate sites like Zwillow.  The fake listing asks renters to send money in exchange for the (non existent) keys to the property for sale.  The renter gets ripped off, and the property seller has all kinds of people creeping around their property, thinking they can rent it.

Realtors out there take note:  have someone in your office do a search on all of your real estate listing addresses and make sure that everything that comes up is a legitimate listing, and not a fake "for rent".

Link to the Channel 2 news story.