Dekalb County really is never dull. Just take a look at these latest stories. But this week it was particularly interesting as tax appeal reform and cityhood movements were both discussed. Oh, and there was a little taskforce meeting that George attended. There is a storm brewing in Dekalb, and there may be enough to rain down on it this time to wash the county clean of its process problems and create cities that better facilitate the needs in certain communities. Or not, depending upon how you view the city movements. Either way, the forces have unified and shall be descending upon the Capitol in the 2015 legislative session, ready for Dekalb County.
Earlier this week, I attended the Tax Appeal How-To session that Representative Mike Jacobs offered to residents of Dekalb and Fulton Counties. It was standing room only and while facilitated by Jacobs, questions were also answered and information given by Senator Fran Millar, Representative Scott Holcomb, Bob Lundsten, Chief of Staff for Dekalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer, and Board of Education member, Stan Jester. Aside for being informative from the elected officials’ standpoint to the crowd, the crowd informed me a lot on how important this constituency views taxes. For most people, property taxes aren’t exciting or sexy. Personally, I hate them. But judging from the noticeable diversity of age, race, and location within the counties, taxes are a big issue here. I go to a fair number of things legislators host- they are rarely this well attended. But then again, when you have the second highest millage rate in the state, I’d be pretty focused on them as well.
While there, Senator Millar discussed SB 293 he introduced but could not pass through both chambers last legislative session. It would have addressed many of the points the crowd brought up. IMHO, I am in total agreement with the Senator from the 40th: the state would do well to better inform the taxpayer before getting to the Board of Equalization. Personally, my time dealing with Fulton County’s version of Larry, Mo and Curly (the Senator’s words, not mine) of the Board of Equalization was time wasted. Millar plans to reintroduce this legislation with some fine tuning garnered from his own experience going before Dekalb County’s Board of Equalization. I look forward to seeing that bill pass.
Meanwhile, in another part of the county, the cityhood movements of Briafcliff and Lakeside have come together to offer a joint statement of intent to work together in creating city boundaries that would allow them both to incorporate. This is after their failed efforts in the last minutes of the 2014 legislative session. The joint statement is below.
Look out Dekalb County, the forces are uniting and the perfect storm is headed your way. Quick, look relevent.
Press Release: Briarcliff and Lakeside Present Joint Statement to DeKalb County Operations Task Force
Atlanta, GA (PRLog), July 3, 2014 – Two DeKalb County cityhood groups, The City of Briarcliff Initiative, and Lakeside Yes read a joint statement before the DeKalb County Operations Task Force (OTF) on Tuesday, July 2, at the Maloof Auditorium. The Operations Task Force was created by Interim CEO Lee May and is charged with making recommendations that can be forwarded to the Georgia General Assembly by December 2014.
For months both citizens and legislators have urged the two groups to communicate and work together more. Briarcliff and Lakeside have historically shared many overlapping views of cityhood, but have differed on proposed city borders. Both groups view cityhood as an opportunity to lift up the community and improve the strength of DeKalb County.
The prepared statement from the July 2nd meeting reads:
Lakeside Yes Chairman Mary Kay Woodworth read, “Lakeside YES and The City of Briarcliff Initiative appreciate the invitation to present maps to the Operations Task Force. You have received our individual working maps, but we respectfully present this joint statement in lieu of focusing on a specific map.”
She continues, “Both of our groups presented maps during the 2014 session of the Georgia General Assembly. However, because our current maps overlap, Lakeside and Briarcliff have agreed to collaborate with the goal of creating a unified map free of overlapping areas and respecting existing city borders and future annexation plans. We respect the compromise map between Tucker and Lakeside as the starting point of this collaboration, and we respect the inclusive approach of the Briarcliff map. We will continue to work with our sponsors, Representative Jacobs and Senator Millar, residents and business owners in our community to reach the goal of local control and governance for this community. We invite the advocates of the city of Tucker to join with us so that we can present two cities with a clear path to cityhood prior to the 2015 session of the General Assembly.”
City of Briarcliff Imitative President Allen Venet read, “We are committed to working together because we agree on almost every issue except boundaries, and boundaries can be solved. As we refine our map, we are soliciting neighborhood input, and we will work with state, county and local elected representatives of both major parties and with the existing cities of DeKalb County.”
He Continues, “We seek to unite, rather than divide, to improve government operations not just in our region of DeKalb but in the entire county. The residents of unincorporated DeKalb deserve, and with respect we demand, the opportunity to form new cities that will become destinations where business and families can flourish. The time has come for us all to cooperate, north and south, inside the perimeter and outside, city advocates and county officials. We all share DeKalb County, and we all know the challenges we face. Cities are an important part of the solution.”
He concludes, “We welcome your questions and your suggestions.”