Dunwoody City Council voted unanimously Jan. 25 to renew its membership with the DeKalb Municipal Association at a cost of $47,224.
Financial Director Chris Pike asked the council members if they wanted to approve paying the annual fee even though the organization has not been what was originally intended.
“When the DMA was set up it was so that new cities would participate and share benefits and costs. That has not been the case. Brookhaven has not joined,” Pike said.
Cities participating in DMA are Doraville, Chamblee and Pine Lake. Annual fees are based on $1 per capita.
Pike gave some background of the DMA, explaining the city worked with the Georgia Municipal Association to form DMA about three years ago. From his memo to council:
When the DMA was formed, the vision was that all cities would participate and benefit from the DMA while sharing a proportionate share of costs. The distribution of costs would be based on the number of residents in each city. Dunwoody was the largest city at the time and paid the largest due.
However, Brookhaven had been approved by the voters and there was an assumption that Brookhaven would later participate in DMA; essentially causing Dunwoody to pay significantly less in the future. Brookhaven never did join DMA so the price to Dunwoody remains near $50,000 per year. Initially, staff anticipated the annual fee to be around $20,000 less than the first year once Brookhaven joined.
Mark Baggett, a lobbyist from the Georgia Municipal Association, became managing director of DMA in late 2012 when the group formed, but left the post in July 2014 to go work again for the GMA when anticipated funding from Brookhaven did not occur. Bill Floyd, former mayor of Decatur, is now managing director of DMA.
“I will say initially we thought we would be getting more horsepower from a lobbyists standpoint,” Pike said. Without Brookhaven, the DMA went to having a full-time registered lobbyist to a part-time former mayor, Pike added.
Councilman Terry Nall said the benefits from DMA were significant in that it is an intelligence-gathering group that pays Floyd to attend numerous subcommittee meetings of DeKalb government and then let municipalities know what is in the works that will affect them. DMA also offers a unified voice for the cities when it comes to trying to work with the county, Nall added.
“This is what we want — we want to do this in front of the public,” Mayor Denny Shortal said before the vote to approve the spending.