Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dunwoody Mayor and City Council Changes

Many thanks to outgoing Mayor Ken Wright, Councilman Danny Ross, and Councilman Robert Wittenstein.  These three gentlemen have put in a lot of time and effort into our city the past three years.  If you see one of them out and about be sure to give them your thanks.

How will those who have regularly followed local politics remember these three?

Danny Ross:  I'll always remember Danny for his creative videos.  He had one final video at his last meeting.  Danny will also be remembered for his fight to stay with DeKalb 911 and for his efforts to bring the GA Music Hall of Fame to Dunwoody. I recall Danny first discussing the need for an economic development position in the city, something we now have thanks to his efforts. Danny is very dedicated to preserving the history of Dunwoody.  Perhaps he'll be named as an honorary historian of Dunwoody.

Robert Wittenstein:  Of all the council members I'd say Robert, in most cases, did the most thorough job of researching an issue.  He'd look at something from all angles and out loud, talk things through to make sure his fellow council members and the residents understood something.

Ken Wright:  Ken always attempted to get a consensus on council, bringing together east and west, and north and south.  He was always fair and up-front on every issue.  No sneaky agendas, no groups he was trying to please.  He was a great first mayor of Dunwoody.  With two young children and a business to manage, Ken wore three or four hats the past several years.  He remained dedicated to the city until the very end and deserves the appreciation of Dunwoody residents.

Three new faces take positions in January and I expect little change in day to day city operations at first.  As the new members get comfortable in their new roles and acclimate themselves to being a public figure I think we'll see some good things being done in Dunwoody.  I hope the three new members do a great job on council - they have some tough acts to follow.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dunwoody CVB Budget 2012

The council will vote tonight on the new CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau) budget.  In summary, our city chose to have a CVB, so we have a CVB.  A hotel tax  is in place for every hotel room booked in Dunwoody (five hotels).  That tax money is split between the city's bank account (approx $1 million a year) and the Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau.  A goal of the tax (and of the CVB) is to promote Dunwoody attractions so more people visit Dunwoody. 

Advertising is one known way to promote a product.  most companies advertise their products (Coca Cola, UPS, Mellow Mushroom, Chia pet, etc.)  Cities also promote themselves.  New York, Las Vegas, Orlando, San Francisco, Dunwoody, Chamblee, Smyrna, all of them.  Most cities have a CVB.  In summary, a CVB is an extension of a local government, trying to attract more tax dollars so it can remain in existence, and even grow its footprint.  Tax dollars and politicians created the CVB, and it needs both to continue.

Prior to a City of Dunwoody CVB, who did the promotion (and who received the tax dollars) for Dunwoody?  It was the DeKalb County DCVB. Our hotels no longer pay the room tax to the DeKalb DCVB, thus when you look at that site's suggestions for hotels in north DeKalb and Perimeter Mall area, they neglect to mention Dunwoody's five hotels.  Perhaps our CVB should replace the rotating image of Stone Mountain with a photo of something here in Dunwoody.

Private business are ultimately responsible for promoting themselves - it's not the role of government to promote privately owned hotels and restaurants.   The State of Georgia has specific language on how a CVB has to operate.  I think many are of the opinion that we have a CVB because we can. If do not have a CVB, then the hotel tax goes to DeKalb instead of Dunwoody. 

Major changes for the CVB include a move to a new location at the fancy address of Two Ravinia Drive.  Rent increases from $1,629 a month to $3,258 a month.  Should the CVB be down in the business district or in da' Vill or Georgetown?

The largest monthly expenses for the CVB include $15,000 a month for advertising, $40,000 a year in graphic design, and $5,000 a month for their web site.  I think the goal of the web site is to promote local shopping, hotels, and events.

Using Mozilla Firefox browser and Google search engine, a Dunwoody Talk intern did a Smart search on some local things.  Each search was prefaced with "Dunwoody GA" or "Dunwoody"
Items marked with * indicate is was first listing on page 1 of search.  The number in each column indicates how many first page hits were displayed. I'm sure results vary daily.  Different browsers, different search engines, etc.

The newspapers are listed for reference only.  The papers lead when searching local news for Dunwoody.  I suggest the CVB get a Blogger account and have a blog -  a blog that is updated at least three times a week.  Blogs create a lot more front page hits than does Facebook.

Our CVB is here to stay.  I hope they do an excellent job in promoting Dunwoody and its businesses.  I'd rather have a Dunwoody CVB than a much a larger DeKalb CVB promoting our locale.