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Senate study committee discusses city of DeKalb
by Nicole Dow
October 31, 2012 08:35 AM | 2515 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A recently formed Senate study committee led by District 55 State Sen. Gloria Butler, D-Stone Mountain, is gathering information and opinions about the possible incorporation of a city of DeKalb.

Butler said a bill to charter a city of DeKalb from the unincorporated areas on DeKalb County, an idea that had been proposed in the past, was brought to her at the end of the 2012 legislative session.

She said when the bill was presented to her, she did not have enough time to understand exactly what it would involve.

She asked for a study committee to “start a conversation [and] get people’s ideas of what they think about a city of DeKalb.”

The study committee, which includes Sens. Emanuel Jones, Ronald Ramsey, Steve Henson, Jason Carter, Fran Millar and Gail Davenport, met Oct. 17 for its first meeting.

“Some people are concerned as to what will happen to DeKalb if sections of DeKalb County keep being created into other cities,” Butler said of the comments expressed during the meeting.

DeKalb County spokesman Burke Brennan said county CEO Burrell Ellis believes the study committee was formed in the spirit of trying to alleviate the county’s revenue problem, which is made worse by annexations and incorporations of new municipalities.

When a new city forms or a city annexes and takes away unincorporated sections of the county containing lucrative tax bases, then the county ends up losing out on revenue, Brennan said.

However, an issue with a new city of DeKalb is that “a second layer of government would be formed on top of everything that is currently unincorporated,” he said.

“In addition to county government, you have a city council and a mayor over the same jurisdiction,” Brennan said.

He said Ellis supports the Senate study committee in its fact-finding mission.

“One idea that … needs to be looked at is basically finding a way to incorporate the county in an effort to stave off annexations and incorporations which siphon off the tax base,” Brennan said.

Butler said the study is in the preliminary stages and that a report will be created at its end.

What's Next?:
The Senate study committee will meet Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Manuel J. Maloof Center at 1300 Commerce Drive in Decatur. The meeting is open to the public.

Fast fact:
Former DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones once proposed a “city of DeKalb” as a way to collect utility fees. Counties cannot collect these fees.

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