Thursday, October 28, 2010

Councilman Wittenstein's Update

Readers,

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:

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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.
 
Regards,
Robert

1 comment:

Rob said...

FOR THOSE WHO MAY NEED MORE INFO, ALTHOUGH I CAN'T IMAGINE ANYONE, HERE IS A RECENT POST FROM MIKE JACOBS EXPLAINING THE PROPERTY TAX FREEZE AND THE COST TO YOU THE TAXPAYER IF THIS MEASURE DOES NOT PASS -- SO VOTE YES ON THIS AMENDMENT FOR DEKALB COUNTY AND FOR THE CITY OF DUNWOODY --

FROM MIKE JACOBS SITE:

About the Property Tax Assessment Freeze

... I do want to make sure that you have correct and complete information about what the Property Tax Assessment Freeze is, how it works, and why it’s important that we renew it this year. The measure appears to have a small but dedicated band of opponents who are spreading misinformation about it.

The original Property Tax Assessment Freeze was passed during the 2006 session of the General Assembly, ratified overwhelmingly by DeKalb County voters in the 2006 election, and went into effect at the beginning of 2007.... Unfortunately, because some of my colleagues in the DeKalb County legislative delegation insisted upon writing a five-year sunset into the legislation, the current assessment freeze will expire at the end of the 2011 tax year unless it is renewed.

That renewal is on your ballot this year.
The Property Tax Assessment Freeze is only in effect for one more tax year, 2011, not for two years. More importantly, there isn’t another election scheduled in unincorporated DeKalb County between the 2010 election and the expiration of the current assessment freeze. This Tuesday, November 2, is our last opportunity to renew the assessment freeze before it expires.

If passed by voters on November 2, this renewal will remain in place for an additional five years until the end of 2016.

The assessment freeze applies only to the county government’s portion of your property tax bill, not the board of education’s portion. It also applies only to homesteads (your primary residence).

Does the Property Tax Assessment Freeze save you money? Absolutely! In most cases, it saves a homeowner hundreds of dollars. Please look at your most recent property tax bill and you should see an item in capital letters that says: “THE PROPERTY TAX FREEZE EXEMPTION SAVED YOU X DOLLARS.”

... Using my bill as an example, the amount saved by the assessment freeze is $298.76.


If the Property Tax Assessment Freeze does not prevail on November 2, each homeowner will see [their equivalent] dollar amount .... added back into their property tax bill starting in 2012.


Another important benefit of the Property Tax Assessment Freeze is that it eliminates backdoor property tax hikes. Rather than raising your property taxes by artificially increasing the assessed value of your home – something the county continues to do even as home values slide downward – the assessment freeze forces the county commission to vote to increase the millage rate openly and publicly if they want to raise your property taxes.

Simply put, the assessment freeze makes your elected county commissioners accountable for raising your property taxes, rather than letting an unaccountable tax assessor handle the dirty work of raising your property taxes.
....

The Property Tax Assessment Freeze is a real mechanism that saves you money and holds your property taxes in check. The five-year renewal of the assessment freeze is titled “DeKalb County Homestead Referendum” on your ballot and is the very last item. I hope you will join me in supporting it.