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Transparency, ethics top concerns about county government
by LaTria Garnigan
November 25, 2013 10:50 AM | 2293 views | 1 1 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In front of a crowd of residents, local leaders and state legislators, interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May hosted the first of three meetings last week on the future of county governance.

Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis introduced May and said he appreciated the interim CEO for being the first to step up and say there is a need to fix the county governing structure.

“We want this to be a place to raise a family, be safe — like what we’re trying to do here in Dunwoody,” said Davis. “We are excited about having the CEO come and talk to us.”

May, who has been in the interim role a few months and on the county commission for seven years, said something has to be done about the current structure of the county.

“We are working to move the county in the right direction,” he said. “We are one county and we have to work and talk together.”

He went on to say he was clear on his position of proposing a change in the form of government.

Kimberly Nelson, associate professor of public administration and government at the University of North Carolina, was brought in to explain the different forms of government that counties across the country have.

Nelson explained the differences between the commission, elected executive and commission-administrator/manager forms. In Georgia, 65 percent of the counties use the commission-administrator/manager form, including neighboring counties — Fulton, Clayton and Cobb, said Nelson.

After Nelson’s presentation the room was split into six groups, where the local leaders and legislatures were scattered about talking with citizens about solutions to the county’s governing structure. During the question and answer portion, many common concerns and solutions were announced: honesty, transparency and ethics. Suggestions of hiring a full-time, independent auditor were also raised, which could be done without having to change the government makeup of the county.

May said he agreed there needs to be an independent auditor who does not answer to the CEO’s office and who can look at fraud, waste and more.

He said this public dialogue was about what stakeholders think is the most appropriate form of government for the county.

“What I hear from people across the board, whether they favor changing or staying the same, is they want better outcomes,” said May. “They want a more responsive government with less issues and less drama. So I think this is our opportunity to present a structure that can meet their needs.”

May reiterated he thinks a change is the most appropriate, but he was not trying to sell his position, but trying to build an opportunity for dialogue.

What's Next?
The next two meetings will be:
Dec. 2, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Porter Sanford Performing Arts Center, 3181 Rainbow Drive in Decatur
Dec. 3, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Rehoboth Baptist Church, 2997 Lawrenceville Hwy. in Tucker

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