DUNWOODY, Ga. — In a meeting that lasted less than 15 minutes, the Dunwoody Charter Commission approved a final report Nov. 2 that outlines proposed changes to the city charter.
Then, the group quickly disbanded.
The memo, sent to Georgia State Sen. Sally Harrell and State Reps. Mike Wilensky and Matthew Wilson, outlines proposed changes to Dunwoody’s charter from the five-member panel, which had been meeting bi-monthly since August to comb through the city’s bylaws line by line.
Charter Commission Chairman Robert Wittenstein complimented the panel on their thoughtful deliberation during the three-month stint and said he was “grateful for the professionalism that the committee showed.”
Commission member Amy Swygert said the recommendations the committee made to the Georgia General Assembly offer a “sound rationale for everything that is in the report.”
The recommendations made by the commission must be passed by the Georgia General Assembly before a local referendum on the changes can be scheduled. Dunwoody voters will make the final call on whether the changes should be adopted.
The proposed changes, outlined in the five-page memo, include four major recommendations, which include:
- Changing the term limit for the mayor from two consecutive terms to three consecutive terms
- Establishing term limits for council members at three consecutive terms
- Supporting the election of council members with a plurality of 45 percent, rather than a majority of 50 percent to reduce the likelihood that a council election will be decided in a runoff election
- Shifting the election for mayor by two years to coincide with the district elections, effective 2025
The commission also recommended that the Georgia Legislature make six changes to the city’s charter, which would not have to go through a referendum. Commissioners are asking for:
- The inclusion of the wording “improve water quality” under environmental protection, noting the belief that it was an editorial omission
- A provision that would provide for the compensation of the mayor and council to be determined by the Consumer Price Index
- Removing the defined expense allowance for the mayor and council members and replace it with the reimbursement of actual expenditures
- A shift in the swearing-in of newly elected officials from the first work day of the year to the first regularly scheduled meeting of the year
- A provision for establishment of emergency powers in the event of an emergency impacting life and health within the city
- A push back, by one month, the schedule for approving the annual budget
The memo also noted that the commission has considered, but did not pass several recommendations, including the removal of the millage rate cap of 3.04 and a provision that the mayor could be elected by a plurality of 45 percent, rather than 50 percent plus one vote.