Dunwoody Mayor Ken Wright
Dunwoody Mayor Ken Wright

Dunwoody Mayor Ken Wright spoke about the success Georgia’s youngest city experienced in 2010 and politicked for a few upcoming items in 2011 at a “State of the City” address Feb. 10.

To the surprise of some in the audience, Wright told the hundreds in attendance that the Dunwoody City Council would likely back a multi-million dollar parks bond on the November ballot that would raise city taxes.

Wright said he thinks of taxes as “investments.” He assured residents they would have their say on what would be a 1.5 mill tax increase.

“This would be a voter referendum. It’s the only way we would think about new taxes,” he said.

The city of Dunwoody will become larger when the new census numbers are released this spring, Wright predicted. The city could “pop” to 50,000 people from around 38,000, he said.

Wright also spoke to the council’s thinking on transportation improvements in the growing city, where traffic jams are prevalent.

First, the city would spend $2 million on repaving roads and creating sidewalks in 2011, which would be triple that spent in 2010, he said.

Also, an upcoming proposal for a regional tax could pump $800,000 into local road projects if it were passed.

Wright’s address was delivered at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia hotel to more than 100 residents, as well as 100-plus people and city officials who sat at tables of organizations that sponsored the upscale affair.

Appetizers and drinks were served at an event that began with a reception at 6 p.m. and ended at the conclusion of Wright’s address, which lasted more than an hour.

The beginning of Wright’s address covered what Dunwoody officials like to call the “year of plans.”

The city started major planning initiatives that are scheduled to be completed in 2011.

The parks plan is likely the most important to finish, given that the city could put a referendum on the ballot to raise money for parks.

The city completed a citywide land use plan, and is finishing master plans for two major redevelopment areas — Dunwoody Village and Georgetown.

The redevelopment plans are important to attract developers to the city and allow them to work within the framework of what city officials want to see built there, Wright said.

He also bragged about the fiscal responsibility of the city, which was created in Dec. 2008. He noted that its budget of $18 million makes the city operate lean and efficiently. The nearby city of Sandy Springs has roughly double the budget and operates on a $90 million annual budget.

“We do a ton with a relative little amount,” he said.

Carl Pirkle, a Dunwoody resident who has served on a citizen sounding board advocating city parks, said he was surprised that Wright came out and advocated for a tax at the address. Given the extensive planning the city had put into the parks, a tax could be necessary, he said.

“A plan is no good unless you implement it,” he said.