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Friday, December 19, 2014

The Future of DeKalb County

How the Proposed New Cities Will Transform DeKalb County

This map incorporates the decision of the House Governmental Affairs Committee regarding the final boundaries for the proposed City of Tucker and the proposed City of LaVista Hills. Also shown are the current annexation plans for Decatur, Avondale Estates and Stone Mountain.

The talked about annexation of Druid Hills by the City of Atlanta is also included, although it has little change of ever happening. That proposal will have to be approved by the DeKalb Delegation of the General Assembly as a Local Bill, a remote possibility given how this proposal will devastate the DeKalb County School District.

Both the proposed City of Stonecrest and the City of South DeKalb are also indicated, although neither proposal is likely to be considered in the next legislative session. The city limits for South DeKalb have been adjusted from their current proposed map, in deference to the future annexatioin interests of Stone Mountain, Pinelake and Clarkston.

The recently approved annexations for Doraville and Brookhaven are fully incorporated. Note the islands now found between Doraville and LaVista Hills, as those voters recently rejected the Doraville annexation. Will they be forced into LaVista Hills? That seems to be Sen. Millar's intention.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

And the Saga Continues . . .

The Brookhaven Post has been diligent in its pursuit of the truth behind the Executive Park and CHOA request to be annexed into Brookhaven. On October 17, Tom Doolittle, a contributor to the Brookhaven Post, published an account of the DeKalb Delegation public hearing, held on October 13th in the Brookhaven City Hall. The article includes several videos of the meeting, the viewing of which is its own reward. His article can be found HERE.

The Post provided a follow up article today, found HERE, which includes maps provided by the property owners of the proposed annexation, as well as a composite map assembled by The Post. 

Smaller versions of those maps are reproduced here. (After the break.)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Brookhaven Meddling . . . Again?

Brookhaven Considers Annexation South of I-85 to Include Executive Park & Children's Hospital of Atlanta

The City of Brookhaven is considering applications from Executive Park and the nearby Children's Hospital of Atlanta for annexation into the City.  As those properties under consideration are exclusively commercial, they can be annexed by Brookhaven using either the 100% method or the 60% method, both procedures allowing annexation solely by a vote of the Brookhaven City Council. The state legislature is not involved, and a referendum by residents (there are none) would NOT be required.

The annexations, if they proceed, will have a potentially serious impact on the proposed City of Lakeside/Briarcliff. I say potentially due to the fact that this area was NOT included in the proposed City of Lakeside until the very last map, engineered by Rep. Mike Jacobs (R), Brookhaven, which would be version 7 for Lakeside.  It was NOT included in the feasibility study for Lakeside. This area has always been included in the proposed City of Briarcliff proposed boundaries and feasibility study.

This is an interesting twist for Brookhaven for three reasons. First, when Dunwoody first formed, they had initially sought to include major commercial properties south of I-285, but backed off when complaints were noted that they would be depriving any future city south of I-285 from potential revenue. Dunwoody deferred to the then non-existent possiblity of a City of Brookhaven, at that point merely a twinkle in the eye of Rep. Jacobs. Second, Brookhaven found itself in a serious kerfluffle when it tried the same play with Century Century, after Chamblee had already been allowed to pursue annexation of the area by the state legislature. Brookhaven eventually backed away from that battle. And third, when the City of Lakeside's first map was issued, both Brookhaven and Chamblee pundits objected to Lakeside jumping I-85 to include revenue-rich commercial properties. Lakeside immediately deferred to those concerns.

Monday, October 6, 2014

DeKalb County Organizational Act

The DeKalb County Organizational Act

During the discussions of the DeKalb County Operations Task Force (OTF), the Organizational Act for the County has been a regular focus of their discussions. Unfortunately, there has been some confusion over the exact requirements and language of the Organizational Act, combined with the fact that only a select few members of the Task Force have any familiarity with the Act.

Confusing the matter even more, a pdf version of the Organizational Act, scanned from an original document found somewhere in the dusty files of the county's legal department and made available to the OTF and the public, differs from the version found on Municode, the official repository of all current laws for DeKalb County.

Both versions of the Organizational Act are available here and are downloadable. The version from Municode, the official version available HERE, was downloaded and combined into a single Word file, reformatted for spacing and outlining, and turned into a pdf document. This is an accurate copy of the Organizational Act as of September, 2014, but should always be regarded as UNOFFICIAL, due the circumstances of its creation, and that it is NOT being distributed by the county.

Both versions, after the break:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

DeKalb County Sunday Voting

Sen Fran Millar - Racist?

Sen. Fran Miller certainly created a firestorm with his sharp criticism of interim CEO Lee May's announcement of the opening of a Sunday voting site to be opened just prior to the general election in November, to be located at South DeKalb Mall.  He was concerned that this was UNFAIR because the new location is located in a predominantly African-American (meaning Democrat and uneducated) part of the county, whereas his Republican constituency (meaning white and wealthy) in the north end of the county were being denied an EQUAL OPPORTUNITY to vote.

All told, this is very consistent with the national Republican Party's remarkable efforts to deny the vote to poor and Democratic voters at every opportunity.

Perhaps if he had looked at a map he would have realized he just should have kept his mouth shut.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

But You Left Out the Franchise Fees!

Brookhaven Explains It All

Brookhaven recently mailed out a flier, titled The Facts About Property Tax In Brookhaven, to every property owner within the City limits. In an attempt to justify their position that property taxes are lower in Brookhaven when compared to adjacent areas of unincorporated DeKalb County, Brookhaven has provided a point-by-point analysis of the tax advantages supposedly enjoyed by City residents.

The Truth-O-Meter In Action!

In an article titled Claim Exaggerates Tax Savings, PolitiFact Georgia, a joint site managed by and, took a hard look at the numbers provided in the flier and attempted to determine just how accurate Brookhaven's claims actually were. Their analysis can be found HERE.

In essense, where Brookhaven claims that tax savings for a home valued at $200,00 would be $260.84 per year. PolitiFact, in its analysis, determined that the true savings for that same home would be less than $50.00 per year. Ultimately, PolitiFact rated Brookhaven's claim as Half True.

But Where Are the Franchise Fees?

In reading the both the flyer and the PolitiFact article, we note that both groups omitted the impact of franchise fees on their city revenues, exactly how much is paid by City residents and how those fees vary between the new cities and the County. In researching franchise fees, I've found it is problematic to determine exactly how they work, who pays what, who ultimately receives that revenue, and just how it is accounted for. In general, cities may collect franchise fees that the County cannot, but franchise fees are assessed on both city and county residents, often unknowingly. Some franchise fees paid by unincorporated residents are distributed to cities statewide, but not to the County which generates them. A tricky slope indeed, franchise fees.

So what impact do franchise fees have on Brookhaven's budget? And how does that compare to the County? They're not saying, and its quite possible that nobody really knows for sure.

The flier itself, after the break.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What Do You Do When The Hired Expert . . . Isn't So Expert?


GSU Presentation to the DeKalb Operations Task Force

At the recent DeKalb County Operations Task Force meeting, held on July 16, 2014, a presentation to the Committee On Municipalization / Annexation was made by Dr. Laura Wheeler, a Senior Research Associate with the Fiscal Research Center of the GSU Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.

During her presentation, which was marred by a computer failure which kept her PowerPoint presentation from being displayed, Dr. Wheeler made several statements that some in the audience knew to be incorrect or misleading. This was disappointing to hear, considering the supposed expertise that Dr. Wheeler, and by extension, the Andrew Young School, was expected to bring to the proceedings. What is worse is that the committee members, believing her to be an expert in these matters, were highly inclined to believe that everything she referenced was true and correct. Given the minimal level of their understanding of the issues before them, and my impression that these committee members are not inclined to do their own homework, this does not bode well for the entire process.

A audio recording of the meeting can be found HERE. This is the only accurate documentation of what was said in the meeting as it was not televised or recorded by the County.

Herman Lorenz, of the City of Briarcliff Initiative, was in the audience and was equally troubled by what he heard. As Herman is one of the most knowledgeable and well-read individuals in the entire incorporation debate, his words should be heard and appreciated. His understanding and expertise on many of the issues before the Task Force would seem to go well beyond that of their hired 'expert'.

Operations Task Force - Meeting of the Committee On Municipalization/Annexation

Please note that only 5 of the 8 appointed committee members bothered to show up. (The list of committee appointments can be found HERE.) Commissioner Stan Watson, Rep. Mike Jacobs and BoE member Jim McMahan were absent. I would further note that Commissioner Watson has not shown up to ANY of the Task Force meetings.

Herman's comments, after the break.