By Gerhard Schneibel
gerhard@reporternewspapers.net

With the Sandy Springs budgeting process well underway, Dist. 5 Councilman Tibby DeJulio took an informal vote of constituents at his town hall meeting May 29 on the proposed rollback of property taxes. The vote was 35 opposed, 4 in favor and two favored a partial rollback.

The proposed rollback in property taxes could cost the city up to $2.7 million.

“I’ll be honest with you, my first vote was for a full rollback,” DeJulio said, adding he wanted citizens to “see the benefit” of the city’s fiscal discipline.

“I wanted to do a rollback for people throughout, but we need capital improvement so badly in Sandy Springs… My feeling and the message I’ve gotten is keep the money but don’t waste it,” he said.

“We’ve put [surplus] into reserves. We’ve put it into contingency funds and we put it into capital improvements. You know, we hadn’t had capital improvements in Sandy Springs in maybe, what, who knows, 10, 20, 30 years? Fulton County really never spent a whole lot of money,” he said.

The city’s stormwater infrastructure is one notable system which is failing, DeJulio told his constituents gathered at Church of the Redeemer on Peachtree-Dunwoody Road.

“We’ve just put some money into a study to study our stormwater problem. Sandy Springs, a lot of it was developed 25 to 35, 45, 50 years ago. When they put the infrastructure in they put in corrugated steel pipes, which are designed to last 25 years. Well, guess what: it’s more than 25 years. These pipes are deteriorating, they’re rusting, they are decaying. We’ve got stormwater problems all over this city,” he said.

“This is a problem that is so big; we don’t know how big it is. This problem, conservatively they tell, me could be between $50 and $500 million in scope. We do not know. One thing about stormwater problems, though, every stormwater problem seems to cost at least $100,000 to fix. Unbelievable.”

Bob Tanner attended the meeting because he was concerned about rumors Peachtree Dunwoody Road will be widened. He lives in a subdivision behind the road and said DeJulio’s budget presentation gave him a better understanding of the city’s financial state.

“It seemed like he was informed and responsive, so I’m happy,” he said of DeJulio. “It sounds like to me he has a reasonable grasp of what he’s doing, and he’s being conservative and effective.”

Marie Oxley lives in Brookhaven Estates and attended because she was concerned about rumors the intersection leading into her subdivision was going to be expanded.

“I thought we were going to hear about street improvements and intersection improvements, but I had no idea we would get that amount of information about the budget,” she said. “It was really helpful.”