COVEReport – February 25, 2014

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Lakeside Bill is Voted on by Senate, Wednesday – Write and Call Senators!

Make the call

 

 

Cityhood or Moratorium

The cityhood bills will have to be moved forward by Thursday to move to referendum this year. If you are for a city, a moratorium, or no cities, acting tomorrow is critical. The Lakeside bill will move to the Senate Floor tomorrow (Feb 26). Your feedback is crucial to impacting a potential vote.

Here are sample letters. Copy and paste the email addresses listed below as a group in your blind copy BCC or, time permitting, use this list “Senators” to send to individual senators. The vote could occur as early as tomorrow morning:

Support Lakeside

Subject: Support SB 270

Dear Senator,

My neighbors and I are asking you to allow us to vote on how we want to be governed by voting for Senator Millar’s SB 270 (formation of the City of Lakeside) when it comes to the floor.

The Lakeside City Alliance has held over 75 meetings throughout the boundary area, and voters expressed over and over again that they want the opportunity to vote on cityhood and to put our local tax dollars to work in our community.

We need better police, parks, and public works, and we simply are not getting these things from DeKalb County.

This is our last chance to have a say in how we will be governed.
Please vote for the bill as passed out of committee with no amendments.

Please allow the residents of this community to determine their own future and vote yes for a referendum.

Thank you.
[Signature]

Support Moratorium

Subject: Oppose SB 270

Dear Senator,

I’m asking to you to vote against Senate Bill 270 concerning the proposed city of Lakeside.

My neighborhood was added along with parts of Emory University and surrounding areas to its borders without notice. Our neighborhood has been actively following this initiative and only became aware of this change after approval by the Senate committee.

The Lakeside Initiative did not communicate their plans to expand the geographic area of the proposed city, despite having clearly identified contacts in our civic associations. It has also misrepresented the wishes of the majority of our neighborhood which has consistently expressed an interest in a moratorium on cityhood.

Independent of my personal preference, all citizen affected by the proposed changes should have advance notice and time to weigh in on the process.  Fair evaluation and hearing of other proposals for cityhood is essential to representative government, and the efforts of Lakeside to drown out other opinions should not sway elected officials from representing all of their constituents.
Sincerely,
Name
Address (Victoria Estates)
Atlanta, GA

Senator Email Addresses

Buddy.Carter@senate.ga.gov; William.Ligon@senate.ga.gov; Jack.Hill@senate.ga.gov; Hunter.Hill@senate.ga.gov; Tyler.Harper@senate.ga.gov; Tim.Golden@senate.ga.gov; Don.Balfour@senate.ga.gov; John.Bulloch@senate.ga.gov; John.Crosby@senate.ga.gov; Barry.Loudermilk@senate.ga.gov; Ronnie.Chance@senate.ga.gov; Rick.Jeffares@senate.ga.gov; Cecil.Staton@senate.ga.gov; Tommie.Williams@senate.ga.gov; Ross.Tolleson@senate.ga.gov; Brandon.Beach@senate.ga.gov; Jesse.Stone@senate.ga.gov; Bill.Jackson@senate.ga.gov; Burt.Jones@senate.ga.gov; Jack.Murphy@senate.ga.gov; Mike.Crane@senate.ga.gov; Joshua.McKoon@senate.ga.gov; Mike.Dugan@senate.ga.gov; Bill.Heath@senate.ga.gov; Judson.Hill@senate.ga.gov; Lindsey.Tippins@senate.ga.gov; Fran.Millar@senate.ga.gov; Renee.Unterman@senate.ga.gov; Bill.Cowsert@senate.ga.gov; Frank.Ginn@senate.ga.gov; David.Shafer@senate.ga.gov; Butch.Miller@senate.ga.gov; John.Wilkinson@senate.ga.gov; Steve.Gooch@senate.ga.gov; Chuck.Hufstetler@senate.ga.gov; Jeff.Mullis@senate.ga.gov; Charlie.Bethel@senate.ga.gov; John.Albers@senate.ga.gov; Lester.Jackson@senate.ga.gov; Curt.Thompson@senate.ga.gov; Emanuel.Jones@senate.ga.gov; Freddie.Sims@senate.ga.gov; Ed.Harbison@senate.ga.gov; Hardie.Davis@senate.ga.gov; David.Lucas@senate.ga.gov; Steve.Thompson@senate.ga.gov; Valencia.Seay@senate.ga.gov; Donzella.James@senate.ga.gov; Nan.Orrock@senate.ga.gov; Horacena.Tate@senate.ga.gov; Vincent.Fort@senate.ga.gov; Steve.Henson@senate.ga.gov; Jason.Carter@senate.ga.gov; Ronald.Ramsey@senate.ga.gov; Gail.Davenport@senate.ga.gov; Gloria.Butler@senate.ga.gov

Governor Deal and Lieutenant Governor Cagle

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle 404-656-5030
Web form:   http://ltgov.georgia.gov/webform/contact-us

Governor Nathan Deal 404-656-1776
Web form:  http://gov.georgia.gov/webform/contact-governor-domestic-form

Summary of Neighborhood Meeting with Georgia Legislators Concerning Cityhood

cityhood meeting 1February 18, 2014 – Pat Killingsworth

 

Last night’s meeting at the home of Tim Buchman/Barbara Zehnbauer was impressive with over 70 participants.  Thanks to all for making it a success and special thanks to Tim for opening his home to us. Participants included Victoria Estates residents, some guests from surrounding areas, and speakers State Senator Jason Carter, State Representative Mike Jacobs, and State Representative Mary Margaret Oliver.

 

This neighborhood meeting was organized by COVE to provide State Representative Mike Jacobs an opportunity to explain the reasoning behind the last minute redrawing of City of Lakeside’s borders to include Victoria Estates, parts of Emory and surrounding neighborhoods, without any prior notice to Victoria Estates. Additionally, the meeting was an opportunity for State Representative Mary Margaret Oliver and State Senator Jason Carter to weigh in, for neighbors to ask questions, and for all to hear each other’s concerns.
Mary Margaret Oliver stated that she is prepared to put a substitute Briarcliff charter/map into the Lakeside bill if Senate Bill 270 comes across into the House, but only talked about doing so to block Lakeside, not to promote Briarcliff.  She believes that Lakeside overreached on their new map to give them some room to “compromise” if necessary.
Both she and Carter asked everyone to give HB 22 consideration, as it lays down overreaching restrictions on cities.  There was no mention of HR 1330 as an alternative, which would create a study committee without other permanent restrictions on municipalities. The former bill is a concern for those who would like to maintain the future option to incorporate into a city after a moratorium.
Mike Jacobs took some serious heat from neighbors who expressed anger over the lack of democratic process being demonstrated at the Capitol concerning Senate Bill (SB) 270 and the proposed city of Lakeside. He explained his involvement was to ensure that if Toco Hills was to be included in the city of Lakeside boundaries, that the surrounding neighborhood should be included too. He insisted that he played no part in drawing either the old or new Lakeside maps and, although he did admit that he got a copy of the new map before SB 270 was voted on, could not remember who gave it to him. Jacobs did promise that he would be sure to let the Lakeside Initiative know that, at the end of the almost 2 hour meeting, 95% of those present, by a show of hands, indicated overwhelming support for a moratorium with only a few saying they would vote in favor of Lakeside if it came to a referendum.
A member of the Beth Jacob community indicated his, and many members of the orthodox community’s, request to be added to the proposed Lakeside boundaries was over concerns about recent abduction attempts and related crime. His belief was that the neighborhood would receive better police protection, based on statements from citizens of other recently incorporated cities, and that Lakeside, not Briarcliff, had a chance of passage at the Capitol.
State Senator/Gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter indicated strong support for a moratorium on cityhood. He was quite passionate in his plea for help from DeKalb residents to try to fix DeKalb before doing anything else, and referred specifically to Kathie Gannon’s Blueprint as a guideline. He and his message were well received.
Emory is not demonstrating any interest in either Lakeside or Briarcliff as an option.  Emory declined to send a representative to our meeting, but stated very clearly via email to COVE that they are absolutely opposed to Lakeside taking any of their campus.

cityhood meeting 1cityhood meeting 2cityhood meeting 3cityhood meeting 4cityhood meeting 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You Letters

Send a thank you letter to Oliver, Jacobs, and Carter for taking time to visit our neighborhood and to better understand our concerns.

State Representative Mary Margaret Oliver
150 East Ponce de Leon Avenue, Suite 230
Decatur, GA 30030
State Representative Mike Jacobs
3522 Ashford Dunwoody Road #430
Brookhaven, GA 30319
State Senator Jason Carter
P.O. Box 573
Decatur, GA 30030

Capitol Bills

Update on Legislation

2/25/14 – Pat Killingsworth

SB270_Lakeside

Scheduled to be voted by the Senate tomorrow, February 25!   Last chance for calls. There is the possibility that this bill will also be amended once again to rearrange the boundaries, possibly to include all of Tucker.  Anyone who is interested in this bill should express their opinion to Senator Jeff Mullis and Speaker Ralston tomorrow morning.

HB665 (Oliver) – Briarcliff

HB665_MMO_March2013_Briarcliff_placeholder[1]

Proposed City of Briarcliff boundaries have been modified to accommodate the Decatur, Avondale Estates, and Clarkston proposed areas of annexation. There is a moderate amount of commercial property conceded, while a fair amount of low value residential is removed.  It leaves Tucker alone. The revisions should make it possible for Mary Margaret Oliver to get behind Briarcliff as a real city instead of just a method of stopping Lakeside. It also leaves residents in the areas that were deleted from the new map with a choice between annexation with one of the three cities this year, with Briarcliff next year, or not at all.
http://northdruidhills.patch.com/groups/opinion/p/briarcliff-statement-on-hb-665-cityhood-map?ncid=newsltuspatc00000001&evar4=picks-1-post&newsRef=true

HB 704 – City of South Fulton

A vote on a City of South Fulton passed quickly and was sent to the Senate.  This bill would have a significant impact on the city of Atlanta, which will in turn affect any future annexations that they might consider including Druid Hills, Emory, and Victoria Estates.  Gov. Deal is working with Mayor Kasim Reed, and may be willing to give Atlanta some breathing room with a moratorium/study committee to work out the details.

HB 905/906 – Chamblee and Brookhaven dispute

 

This ill to resolve dispute over boundaries between Chamblee and Brookhaven was passed by both chambers and will become law upon signing by the governor

HB 22 – City Moratorium

This bill would place a moratorium on the creation of new cities and would effectively restrict all future cities in DeKalb based upon proximity limitations.

HR 1330 – City Moratorium

HR_1330_Study Committee_Feb112014

Study Committee on Municipalities/Moratorium was assigned to GAFF on 2/11 and had a second reading on 2/17. This bill, unlike HB 22, would not place a permanent restriction on municipalities.

HB 979 (Jacobs and Oliver) – School Board 1.0

HB 979_School Board Members

This bill provides for the reduction of DeKalb School Board members from 9 to 7. It eliminates the two super district representatives. It has passed in the House and had a first reading in the Senate. Much of the DeKalb delegation does not support this proposal, and has sponsored alternative HB 1054.

HB 1054 – School Board 1.1

This bill is sponsored by Mitchell, Mosby, Stephenson, Kendrick et al.  The DeKalb delegation’s response to HB 979 shows a proposed redistricting map for the School board. The bill was dropped on 2/21 and has had a second reading, but has not moved out of committee.  Proposed redistricting shows narrow districts stretching from south to north DeKalb, with no apparent geographic relationship, and has been publicly criticized.  One of the articles is follows:
DeKalb Board of Education Maps: The Politics of Ridicule — Peach Pundit

http://www.peachpundit.com/2014/02/20/dekalb-board-of-education-maps-the-politics-of-ridicule/?utm_campaign=Peach+Pundit+Daily+-+02%2F21%2F2014+Edition&utm_source=Signal&utm_medium=email

SB 399 – School Board 1.2

This bill, sponsored by Steve Henson, was introduced on 2/21.  It will allow the governor’s current BOE appointees to remain in office until 2017, and specifies that the governor be allowed to fill any vacancies during that time as well.  The drama in the delegation is ramping up!

SB 95 – DeKalb CEO

SB 95_Nonpartisan CEO election

(Millar), DeKalb CEO to be elected on a nonpartisan vote, passed the Senate on 2/18, and had its second reading in the House.

Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb Meeting, Thursday, February 20

February 21, 2014 – John Bugge (President, Mason Mill Civic Association)

Dear Neighbor,

Our County Commissioner for Super District 6, Kathie Gannon, is taking the lead on “redefining” how the County government should work.  She has important ideas about what is not working, and she has put together a bold and far-reaching set of principles for reform, accompanied by many practical suggestions on how to go about it, all under the heading of a “Blueprint to Re-Define DeKalb.”  This was the subject of a public meeting last evening at the Decatur Public Library.

As she says, the County has reached a tipping point and something has to be done.

Please see the document she has put together at her web site:
http://www.kathiegannon.com/blueprint-to-redefine-dekalb.html

If you find that you are in favor of the Blueprint and want to add your name to a list of supporters, please just email that sentiment to the following email address:

maryejether@comcast.net

This is just the beginning of what may be a long and difficult process, but at least Kathie has made a laudable beginning.

Note: Several Victoria Estates neighbors were in attendance, including COVE board members Pat Killingsworth, Martha Pacini, and Carl Lange. More details will follow.

Blueprint Meeting Handout

Houston Mill Development

February 22, 2014 – Patrick S. Noonan

The Mason Mill Civic Association leadership has just learned of plans to put a 24-unit townhouse development on Houston Mill Road, above the creek and the waterfall, where the yellow house currently stands. Time for a joint leadership meeting and some action planning?

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

DeKalb Board of Commissioner’s Budget Hearing – Thursday, February 27

Budget Public Hearing and Vote on the 2014 Proposed Budget
Thursday, February 27th at 10:00 am
Maloof Auditorium
1300 Commerce Drive
Decatur, GA  30030

2014 Budget Analysis

The Board of Commissioners is due to act on Interim CEO Lee May’s budget proposal on Thursday, February 27th.  It purports to be a “no tax increase” budget, but in my reading incorporates several weaknesses that must be corrected, or DeKalb will see a substantial millage increase next year.  I’ve attended numerous Budget Committee meetings, hosted a Town Hall to better understand the proposal and your priorities, and have reached this conclusion:  Overall, the Interim CEO’s budget sets a direction that must be reversed if DeKalb is to stabilize essential service delivery and have any hope for competing for new economic growth to reduce reliance on the residential tax base.   I intend to vote to reserve as much of our budget as possible against future tax increases, continue to push for mechanisms to reduce our structural deficit and address essential service delivery needs.  Some key areas are highlighted below.  I would also encourage you to read the Commission Central Staff analysis, posted on our website on the home page at:  http://www.commissionerrader.com/reader-county-news/items/id-2014-budget-analysis.html

Revenues and Millage Rates
DeKalb’s revenues growth is expected to be flat this year, a great improvement over the past few years, but still 23% lower than our high in 2008.  Even if the tax digest were to grow 4% a year in the future, it would be 2023 before we reached the 2008 high water mark.  The distribution of this decline is not even across the County, and many taxpayers have seen increased assessments in the past year.  This reflects the good news of strong property values, but is bad news for tax bills, particularly for businesses that don’t benefit from homestead exemptions and the HOST rebate.  For those taxpayers, DeKalb has the highest millage rates (21.21) of any unincorporated jurisdiction in Metro Atlanta.

Fund Balances
Our Fund Balance, or Reserves are better than they have been in years, but at $28 M, don’t come close to the one-month’s operating budget target set in County fiscal policies.  Adequate Reserves are important to meeting unforeseen challenges and to reduce the cost of credit, which as a large enterprise, we use annually.  Building up our Reserves should continue to be a goal; we’re only half way there.

Overall Revenues and Expenditures
The Administration proposes to increase the tax-funded budget from $560 M in 2013 to $584 M this year, a 4% increase.  With tax revenues anticipated to total only $575 M, this represents a $9 M gap that the Administration proposes to fund using Reserves.

Many increased expenses are difficult to avoid.  Health care and pension obligations are growing, though at a lower rate than before.  Service demand does not decline when we see lower tax receipts.  In fact, the same conditions that erode our revenues tend to increase demand for services, so increased demand for code enforcement and public safety drive up costs in these areas.  DeKalb has also under funded key systems during the Great Recession, and we must increase our road paving and facilities maintenance budgets, or the County’s capital assets will be seriously undermined.

Proposed 3% Pay Increase
The biggest discretionary expense that the Administration proposes is a 3% across the board pay increase for all County employees, starting July 1.  The County’s fragile financial condition has regrettably precluded cost of living increases for several years, but pay has not been static.  In the past year, the suspended CEO implemented a 3% “living wage” pay increase for low-paid employees, and a 3% bonus for sworn police personnel was approved. In all, over $7.3 million in salary increases have been authorized outside of the budget process over the past five years. We should delay action on pay adjustments until the CEO completes analysis of the current compensation structure (already underway), and a plan for restructuring County service delivery to meet the financial realities in coming years (promised).  Interim CEO May pledges to avoid a tax increase in 2015 (if he remains in the post), but until a roadmap to that goal is revealed, we would be wise to avoid ongoing commitments that will not take us in another direction.

Police Take Home Vehicles
A patrol car, like a side arm or radio, is desirable personal equipment for DeKalb’s patrol force, and personally assigned vehicles (that the officer would take home, like other equipment) are a benefit to both the public and officers.  The Administration’s proposal initiates a take-home vehicle program, but only provides seed funding. In an unconstrained fiscal environment, take home vehicles would be a worthwhile addition to the fleet.   Unfortunately, today’s weak tax digest does not allow for the full implementation of this capital program without necessitating future tax increases.  Our Public Safety Administration should look for resources other than the tax fund budget to expand the fleet and enhance our capacity to improve the effectiveness of our patrol force.  We should focus the tax funds budget on maintaining the capacity of the Force by maintaining current and newly acquired capital resources, and maintaining our head-count.

Animal Shelter Capital Contributions
There’s been strong support and a strong business case for development of a new Animal Shelter.  In 2013, the County made a commitment to deliver the new facility with development commencing in May 2014.  It’s not clear that all funds necessary for the completion of the new Animal Shelter are committed.  Funding committed last year to the project only constitute about half of the required construction budget.  The Administration anticipates issuing debt to fund the facility, but DeKalb’s capability to issue debt is tightly constrained by state legislation.  Absent a comprehensive and air-tight analysis of a legal means to debt finance the remainder of the Shelter budget, the capital expense should be fully funded in 2014 to insure that the County’s commitment to the project timetable is fulfilled.

Public Defenders Office
The Public Defender requested, but was denied funding to convert an Attorney III position from expiring grant-funded status to permanent County funding status in order to continue managing the diversion of suitable defendants to the Drug Court rehabilitation program.  Given the program’s success in reducing the high cost of recidivism, not to mention salvaging lives from the debilitating effect of addiction, DeKalb should recognize the positive financial and human impact of our model Drug Court program by restoring $80,000 to the Public Defenders budget for this position.

Library
Despite large increases in library space under the Library System’s management, staffing has declined slightly since 2010, resulting in service cuts to patrons.  More troubling has been a nearly complete withdrawal of tax-fund resources for the purchase of library materials.  Bond interest revenues served as a stopgap in recent years, but those funds are now effectively exhausted with the coming completion of the bond funded library improvement program.  The Administration proposed to zero out tax fund contributions in its initial budget.  The Library System’s request for $1,000,000 in tax-fund contributions toward purchase of library materials should be restored.

Thank you –

Jeff Rader

Our mailing address is:
1300 Commerce Drive
Decatur, GA  30030
404-371-2863
www.commissionerrader.com
*jrader@dekalbcountyga.gov*
Copyright (C) All rights reserved.

“Town Hall” Meeting – Thursday, February 27

Reps. Mary Margaret Oliver, Michele Henson and Scott Holcomb have rescheduled their town hall meeting. It will be held Thursday, February 27th, from 6:30-8:00 PM at Hawthorne Elementary School. The full announcement is below.

ATLANTA – State Representatives Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur), Michele Henson (D-Stone Mountain), and Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta) will host a town hall meeting on Thursday, February 27, 2014 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at Hawthorne Elementary School in DeKalb County. The previously scheduled meeting for February 12 was cancelled.
During this meeting, these representatives will give a legislative update on events that have occurred during the first weeks of session and hear questions from constituents.

WHO: Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur)
Rep. Michele Henson (D-Stone Mountain)
Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta)

WHAT: Town Hall Meeting to discuss the ongoing 2014 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly and hear from constituents

WHEN: Thursday, February 27, 2014
6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

WHERE: Hawthorne Elementary School
2535 Caladium Dr.
Atlanta, GA 30345

North Decatur Rd.  – Scott Blvd. – Church St. Area Land Use Study – Thursday, February 27

Medline LCI Study Community Workshop
Thursday, February 27th 6:30 pm — 8:00 pm
North Decatur Presbyterian Church (Sanctuary)
611 Medlock Road
Decatur, GA 30033

We hope you will post the information on your pages and share it with your network to join us for the Medline LCI study community workshop.

 
We also invite the public to take part in our community survey which will help us identify issues and opportunities for consideration in the final plan.  Please share the following link to access the survey:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MedlineLCI.
 
Additional details about the Medline LCI can be found on the study website at https://sites.google.com/site/medlinelcistudy/.

Standing Meeting of DeKalb Delegation with County Commission – Monday, March 3

Scheduled: Mar 3, 2014, 11:30:00 AM to 1:30:00 PM
Location: Room 605, Coverdell Building
Meeting is at noon.

Emory Community Meeting – Tuesday, March 4

Scheduled: Mar 4, 2014, 6:30:00 PM to 8:00:00 PM
Location: North Decatur Building, Room 155
Park in Lowergate South parking deck, second floor walkway

Standing Meeting of DeKalb Delegation with County Commission
Scheduled – Monday, March 10

11:30:00 AM to 1:30:00 PM
Location: Room 605, Coverdell Building
Meeting is at noon.

Standing Meeting of DeKalb Delegation with County Commission – Monday, March 17

Scheduled: Mar 17, 2014, 11:30:00 AM to 1:30:00 PM
Location: Room 605, Coverdell Building
Meeting is at noon.

CDC Campus Plan Public Comments – End Date: April 10, 2014

The CDC has rescheduled this meeting (cancelled due to the snow/ice storm) for Public Comments on the Roybal Campus Master Plan Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).  The meeting will be held on Thursday, March 20, from 7:00 – 9:00 PM, at CDC’s Building 19 Auditorium A.  The revised date for public comment has been moved to April 10, 2014.  For more information, please contact George Chandler at:gec2@cdc.gov.

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