By Sandy Springs City Councilman Tibby DeJulio
Sandy Springs, a dream of more than 20 years, became a reality on Dec. 1, 2005.
Since 1987, working with Eva [Galambos], we traveled down to the state Capitol to attend more hearings than I ever want to remember. We were convinced that Sandy Springs could exist as an independent city. It could become a city that could make it on its own, improving the standard of living for its citizens, all within the taxes we were paying to Fulton County for local services.
You know something, we were right.
Three studies were done by the Vinson Institute of the University of Georgia, which proved to be right also. We were able to achieve what we set out to do. Establish a city based on a public-private partnership. It would become the largest non-federal contract government in the country.
When people ask me what has surprised me the most in the city of Sandy Springs, I tell them it’s not how well it has worked, but how much better it has worked then we even hoped it would. We had a plan, we had a dream, we had hope. All these dreams worked out better than our expectations.
We can look at the miles of roads re-paved, the number of roads that have been rebuilt, the protection we receive from one of the finest police, fire & EMS teams in the state. We can admire our new 911 system and its improved response times to our citizens.
And, we do. We brag about all the accomplishments that have been made in and for the city, all the benefits that our citizens have received. The $25 million we have in reserves are a real source of pride.
The most impressive thing is that the system we used worked. It has become a model for cities all over the country and around the world.
When I was in Boston receiving the award bestowed by the Pioneer Institute for our work with the public-private partnership, most of the other cities I encountered there were discussing their budget limitations and the shortfalls they were experiencing. I started my discussion by telling them how Sandy Springs had to cut its budget by almost $10 million this year, but yet passed a balanced budget in four weeks with no arguments. In fact, this year’s budget put additional funds into reserves for the future.
So, what am I most proud of about the city of Sandy Springs? The thing I’m most proud of is the fact that we are able to show the world that you can run a city of almost 100,000 with a balanced budget, prepare for the future and not have to spend money you don’t have or raise taxes. All of this was accomplished with a mayor and City Council who are not career politicians.
That’s the story we need to get out to the rest of the cities, counties, states and our federal government. We’ve learned to live within our means. There’s no reason others can’t do the same thing.
Tibby DeJulio was among the members of the first Sandy Springs City Council. He is in his second term and represents District 5.