Following are questions from community meetings.
Proposed city of DeKalb is 123.35 square miles. According to the ARC (Atlanta Regional Commission), its estimated population as of 2018 was 206,827 people.
a. City of DeKalb will start with 3 services – Code Enforcement, Zoning and Planning, and Parks and Recreation. These services are important to economic development and quality of life for citizens.
b. The 3 services selected had the best cost-benefit ratio and the potential impacts, particularly for economic development, were very important.
c. New cities have up to 2 years from their start date to determine any additional services they want to provide.
No. A taxpayer pays only once for each service to either the City or the County.
City of DeKalb is not taking on Police Services as one of its initial services. The DCM Team was advised to hire safety experts to conduct a study to determine what best practices exist for city of DeKalb’s local environment.
a. Southern DeKalb needs and wants economic development. Counties as state administrative units are supposed to treat everyone equally; cities were created to deliver economic development and additional services specifically for their residents.
b. Forming the proposed city of DeKalb represents an opportunity to improve our quality of life that has not been provided by the county.
c. A city structure such as the proposed city of DeKalb will be more accountable to its citizens than the county structure where 4 Commissioners and the CEO (the majority of our elected leaders) make decisions about an area in which they do not live.
d. More importantly, the current situation has residents in unincorporated DeKalb subsidizing citizens in cities elsewhere within DeKalb County.
a. A large city like the proposed city of DeKalb helps keep property taxes low because of population size and revenue sources that are driven by its large size.
b. Due to the underdevelopment of southern DeKalb, a large city can bring together the necessary resources to help leverage the proposed city of DeKalb’s natural resources and assets to effectively compete in the region.
c. A large city encourages leaders to take it into consideration for regional planning. For example, the proposed city of DeKalb will be at the table when large projects such as MARTA are discussed.
d. A smaller city with the current lack of development in southern DeKalb will have a higher likelihood of tax increases.
e. Of the 4 options explored (status quo, form a smaller city, form a large city, or annex into the city of Atlanta), residents preferred the benefits of a large city when compared to the other options.
a. The new city will be assisted by a third party (to be selected) that will have experience in helping cities start up.
b. The Mayor and City Council will have ultimate decision making for the new city not the third party.
We looked for a name that connected all residents in southern DeKalb and that was "DeKalb." However, after the city is formed, a period of time will be devoted to deciding upon a new name. The process will be primarily based on community input. Residents can decide whether they want to keep the name "DeKalb" or change to a new name.
County government will continue to exist as will the CEO and the Commissioners.
a. When the city forms, you will get 100% benefit from the taxes you pay that will go directly to city delivered services. Currently, taxes such as SPLOST paid by unincorporated DeKalb residents get shared amongst all the citizens of the county while taxes paid by city residents stay within the city. Cities get their own SPLOST funds based on their percentage of the population in DeKalb.
b. The proposed city of DeKalb has an advantage over the county because it advocates, supports and provides technical assistance to a unique citizen participation model known as Community Area Planning Units (CAPUs), a model started by Mayor Maynard Jackson to give residents another way to participate in local government.
c. The proposed City of DeKalb offers additional advantages such as a more responsive local government – 1 Councilperson to 49,000 residents (instead of 1 Commissioner to 140,000 residents) and representatives from the CAPU system.
d. The proposed city of DeKalb has several better-government measures – term limits of 2 four-year terms, an ethics board with citizen appointments, and an external audit.
a. All efforts at economic development will focus on the proposed city of DeKalb instead of the county.
b. The proposed city of DeKalb has an economic vision and plan specific to and focused on the proposed city of DeKalb (see "About" page on this website).
c. The proposed city of DeKalb will have a DEDICATED office focused on optimizing economic development opportunities EXCLUSIVELY for the proposed city of DeKalb.
d. Due to its resources and revenue, the proposed city of DeKalb has leverage to negotiate important projects, infrastructure, and incentives that will affect economic development.
e. There has been insufficient effort by the County to promote southern DeKalb or to develop the resources it has to attract businesses. A traditional economic development plan was done by the County that has not been implemented.
a. CAPU stands for Community Area Planning Unit. CAPUs empower residents to have input into government decision making.
b. CAPUs are important because they allow for greater democratic participation and representation on the local, neighborhood level. They give residents 2 opportunities for their voices to be heard – through their City Councilperson and on their neighborhood level regarding concerns that cities may not deal with such as education.
c. The proposed city of DeKalb is the only new city to incorporate a strong local level resident participation model.
i. Community Council members are appointed by the governing authority (DeKalb County Commissioners). CAPU members are elected by their neighbors.
ii. CAPUs will receive administrative support, technical assistance and training from the proposed city of DeKalb. Community Councils do not receive such administrative support.
iii. CAPUs can appoint members to the Ethics Board. Community Council members only recommend.
iv. Community Councils primarily provide recommendations on planning. CAPUs can provide recommendations on planning and other issues affecting their CAPU such as education and safety.
The proposed city of DeKalb charter provides for limits, freezes, discounts and/or other allowances to protect vulnerable populations such as seniors from higher tax bills prompted by rising property values. Seniors will also keep any benefits they enjoy from the county.
a. K-12 education will remain under the authority of the DeKalb Board of Education.
b. The proposed city of DeKalb supports emphasis on:
i. STEAM (Science, Technology, Education, Arts and Math)
ii. Vocational Training
c. the proposed city of DeKalb will work with the DeKalb Board of Education to supplement its efforts, particularly in the above two areas, in any way on which the two entities can mutually agree.
d. By forming a city within DeKalb County, the DeKalb Board of Education will be further protected from encroachments upon borders, students and funds.
a. Presenting an attractive, maintained landscape is important to economic development.
b. Key areas, such as common, commercial areas should be maintained and kept litter free on an ongoing, continuous basis.
c. With input from and support from the CAPUs, the proposed city of DeKalb will adopt a tougher stance on litter.
a. Recreational facilities such as parks and golf courses have historically been important components in making south DeKalb an attractive site for homeowners and they continue to be so. The proposed city of DeKalb, with the assistance of its CAPUs will support their maintenance.
b. Once an area meets site location requirements, companies often decide where to move based on amenities and quality of life considerations. The proposed city of DeKalb will make every effort to maintain quality parks, recreational areas and public golf courses.
a. Roads and Potholes – You can usually tell a city because the roads look better upon approaching its boundaries. The new city will be responsible for roads.
b. In 2017, residents of the proposed city of DeKalb approved a SPLOST retail sales tax for improvements to infrastructure. A portion of that money has gone to infrastructure outside of unincorporated DeKalb. When the city forms, future SPLOST funds will go for infrastructure within the city.
a. YES. A study conducted by Dr. Leora Waldner of 44 majority-minority cities (cities with over 50% Black, Hispanic or Asian populations) created between 1990-2010 found that 42 of the 44 cities were financially solvent – their budget revenues met or exceeded costs.
b. A further case study analysis of 4 cities revealed significant improvements in each of the cities ranging from economic development to safety and education.
A feasibility study seeks to determine whether the services to be provided by a proposed city along with the necessary administrative support can be adequately funded by the revenues that would be available. Put more simply, the feasibility study estimates whether the proposed city of DeKalb will take in enough revenue to pay for its expenses (including operational and startup expenses and the purchase of parks).
The Carl Vinson Institute estimated the following:
Total Annual Revenue: $45,611,418
Total Annual Expenses: $18,434,437
Amount of Revenue Exceeding Expenses $27,176,981
Estimates from the feasibility study are now quite accurate. While only the elected officials of the new city can approve a budget, the DCM has developed a budget based on its Vision (see the “About” page on this website), input from citizens in southern DeKalb via NextDoor, and a philosophy of fiscal conservatism.
The County will retain control of police and fire services, at least initially. As per the instructions of previous police chiefs, the new city should approve a study to be conducted that will assess how police services can best be handled for the new city. The new city has up to 2 years to decide whether to take on police services. During that time period, residents will continue to receive police services from the County.
They include overall operating costs such as
a. Municipal courts
b. City clerk
c. City attorney
e. Finance department
f. Human resources
g. Community and Economic development
h. Mayor and City Councilmember salaries
Yes. The estimated cost in the feasibility study to purchase the existing parks within the proposed city of DeKalb boundaries is $225,000 based on a square foot charge set by governing legislation.
According to the feasibility study, the proposed city of DeKalb will receive $414,000 in property taxes. This is low because the bulk of our taxes will remain with the county to pay for police, fire and safety.
Cities have revenue sources that counties do not have such as franchise fees. Franchise fees are fees paid by utility companies (cable, electric, natural gas, and phone) for public right of ways. Because of the size of our population and franchise fees are based on population, the result is a large revenue source. This is mostly a new revenue source and takes very little away from the county. This is why the proposed city is big and why your taxes are able to remain the same.
Franchise fees are the fees that utility companies pay to local governments to have access or “right-of-way” to each property serviced by that utility. Counties cannot charge franchise fees. Therefore, franchise fees represent a separate source of revenues for cities that do not adversely affect counties. Franchise fees are not taxes. Cities do not charge citizens and should the resident not utilize the service the utility company does not get charged (and the resident does not pay any fee). It is up to the utility company as to whether they will pass the charge on to their customer.
Property taxes are calculated from our millage rates (which are based on the appraisal of your homes). There is no reason to expect tax increases as a result of the proposed city of DeKalb becoming a city. None of the new cities have experienced a tax increase. Dunwoody has not raised its rates since it formed in 2008; Brookhaven’s rates have gone down since it formed in 2013; and Tucker and Stonecrest have 0 millage rates.
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