As Dunwoody City Council works through the city’s 2015 budget, debate is turning to arguments over police and paving.
“We need to take a good, hard look at this budget,” City Councilman Denis Shortal said during the council’s meeting Oct. 13.
Mayor Mike Davis submitted a $22.7 million budget to fund city departments. He says the 2015 budget emphasizes a central investment in infrastructure, public safety and quality-of-life amenities. The budget does not call for an increase in Dunwoody’s tax rate, set at 2.74 mills.
In an email, Davis said the “heart” of the budget consists of creating connections and access, while strengthening service delivery and safety for residents.
“We are prioritizing improvements, such as new sidewalks, trails, parks and intersections, and we are investing $2.99 million to pave city roads, construct and improve sidewalks, and complete construction projects,” Davis said.
Also, under the new budget, the police department plans to add two majors and a lieutenant. The police department also will fund a $500,000 vehicle replacement program.
But Shortal argued that not enough was being spent on paving and too much was being spent on high-ranking officers in the city’s police department. Shortal said the police department needs more “boots on the ground” and he suggested hiring “more Indians, not chiefs.”
“I don’t know what a lieutenant can do that a sergeant isn’t doing now,” Shortal said.
Shortal said “small and efficient governments are successful,” and “we have to watch for government creep” because though the city has money in the bank now, it won’t necessarily be there moving forward.
He asked Police Chief Billy Grogan, who is serving as acting city manager, to confirm the type of crimes seen in Dunwoody. Grogan said the city has seen a 22 percent increase in Type 1 crime, which includes homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny/ theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.
Davis said his budget calls for spending $2.99 million on paving, sidewalks, trails, parks and intersections improvements.
“We are also funding work on the new 5-acre Pernoshal Park [a 19-acre site at the corner of North Shallowford Road and Pernoshal Court] and the connecting phase of the Multi-Use Trail. These are two amenities which I believe residents will be excited to see take shape and enjoy for many years to come.”
While Davis said improvements are a priority, Shortal argued that the Number One need for Dunwoody is street paving, and the amount budgeted for paving didn’t increase. Shortal said he expected to see at least $3 million in the budget solely for paving.
Davis said the city has added to the paving budget about every six months and he doesn’t see any reason to change the budget.
Councilwoman Lynn Deutsch said more money was added to the paving budget in the past year, but Shortal said he wants the council to “see where we can carve out more money for paving—at least $500,000 to $1 million.”
Other proposed budget increases include a 41 percent increase, to $240,778, for the city clerk’s office. Davis said the increase will pay for the 2015 elections.
The amount budgeted for E911 services dropped by 70 percent, to $73,300. Davis said collections of fees for the service “are at a steady and reliably higher figure than budgeted in 2013 and 2014.”