Councilmen Wittenstein and Shortal frequently put out 'updates' via email. I suggest emailing each of them and sign up. I think it's great these two (both from District 1) do this. Here is Councilman Wittenstein's latest update:
Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,
There is one Dunwoody city item on the November 2 ballot and I’d like to encourage you to vote NO on it. The item is as follows:
City of Dunwoody Homestead Exemption
"Shall the Act be approved which amends the homestead exemption from City of Dunwoody ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes in an amount equal to the amount by which the current year assessed value of a homestead exceeds the base year assessed value of such homestead by eliminating the automatic sunset so that the exemption continues indefinitely?" H.B. 1319 Act 562
This item is well-meaning, but in my opinion, misguided. If passed, it will set up the Dunwoody tax code so that new residents pay more taxes than long-time residents.
If it passes, then over time as your property increases in value you’ll receive a credit on your property taxes equal to the tax on the increase in value. When you sell your home to a new Dunwoody resident, the credit goes away so they will pay Dunwoody property tax on the full value of the home. The longer you live in your house, the bigger the subsidy.
I am not suggesting this to fatten the city’s treasury. The amount will be so small that it won’t have an impact on the city’s budget.
For me this is a fairness issue. Two houses side-by-side, worth the same amount of money and receiving the same city services, should pay the same in property taxes. We shouldn’t have the house on the right subsidize the house on the left simply because one of them is a long time resident and one is a newcomer.
If you do vote NO and the item is defeated, then your city property taxes will increase slightly over time as your property gets more valuable. How much? For the average Dunwoody homeowner we are talking about $12 a year.
It is tempting to vote ourselves a benefit that current residents will enjoy at the expense of future residents who aren’t here yet and can’t vote. It is equally tempting to vote for freezing taxes—and if this were freezing taxes for everyone equally, that would certainly be something to consider. But this is not.
No one wants to pay more taxes but the right thing to do is to recognize that as the value of our homes increase, so will our share of the city property tax burden. For this reason, I encourage you to vote NO on this ballot measure on November 2nd.
In other city news, we have passed our 2011 budget—without the extra four-person traffic unit. The budget allocates considerably more money for repaving and sidewalks projects and forecasts a $1.3 million surplus.
We continue to look at alternatives for 911 dispatch service. I expect us to make a decision in November between remaining with DeKalb, starting our own 911 center, or contracting with the Sandy Springs/John’s Creek “ChatComm” 911 center.
Finally, this week we also passed our revised Dunwoody sign ordinance. This ordinance has been in the works for 14 months and it attempts to balance the needs of businesses while improving the esthetics of the city. The most notable provision is a city-wide ban on new internally lit signs. Existing signs will be allowed to stay as long as they are maintained in good condition but future signs must be externally lit.