Dunwoody on road to improved services

The city of Dunwoody recently celebrated its fifth birthday. As mayor, I can say the milestone was less about celebration and more about the achievements we’ve made and what the future holds.

In my recent State of the City address, the key messages delivered centered on excitement and promise. I also spoke about the hard work we’ve done in the past five years: paving nearly 50 lane miles of city streets; upgrading and maintaining more than 160 acres of green space and city park amenities, and establishing a first-class police force that has helped reduce crime and kept our roads, homes and families safe.

Concentrating on the “Three P’s” (paving, parks and police) was at the core of why we became a city through an overwhelming 86 percent majority vote. Looking back, I’m pleased we can stand behind those promises and continue to focus our funds and resources to address these critical areas.

Dunwoody is a recognizable business hub, as evidenced by its recent selection by State Farm for a large, mixed-use complex to be the insurer’s future major operations center. New and established businesses, hotels, restaurants and retailers are vying for space all over the city because of our business-friendly environment and easy access to major interstates and MARTA.

Our city, operating under a charter approved by the Georgia General Assembly, closely resembles a private-sector business. We are a representative democracy where citizens (shareholders) elect a board of directors and chairman (City Council and mayor) who hire a city manager (CEO) who serves at the discretion of the board. Our mission is to “provide the highest quality of life for those who live, work or play in our community and to foster an environment where business can prosper.”

Dunwoody has achieved success following that mission and made real progress through local control and initiatives. We also realize each of our citizens has his or her favorite projects and views on development and improvements. As leaders, we must address all these desires and balance our efforts so we in turn can show progress on all fronts. The “Three Ps” remain our focus, but balancing each one presents the challenge.

The city’s charter clearly spells out which services the city must provide for the health and safety of our community. Among the services we provide directly are police, storm water, community development and parks. The charter also includes services we contractually manage through intergovernmental agreements (IGAs) with DeKalb County, such as sanitation, fire and emergency services.

The city seeks to improve overall service levels. Looking forward, we are exploring management of critical services integral to providing the highest quality of life for residents: schools and fire/emergency services. By exploring direct management of select services instead of through IGAs, we are pursuing better administration and oversight, all to increase service levels. As any successful corporation knows, to achieve this, we must commit to fiscal responsibility tied to a vision that addresses the needs of tomorrow.

Mike Davis is mayor of Dunwoody.