Tag Archives: Schools

COVE Report – October 18, 2016

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Mason Mill Civic Association – Fall Picnic for All Area Neighbors

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Sunday, October 23, 2016*
4:30 – 6:30 pm, W. D. Thomson Park Pavilion
The tradition continues: our semi-annual neighborhood picnic!

We are hoping for perfect fall weather and expect lots of good food. The MMCA Social Committee will be grilling hamburgers, veggie burgers and hot dogs, and supplying drinks, ice, plates, cups and plastic ware. Please bring a favorite main or side dish or dessert to share with your neighbors. Bring enough for 8-10 people. (Don’t forget a serving utensil!) Also, bring folding chairs, tables or blankets and any kind of toys for the kids.
* Any postponement due to rain will be posted on the picnic pavilion and via nextdoor.com. Your donations help defray picnic costs! A jar will be on the sign-in table. If you are attending, please rsvp to civicassn@masonmill.org. Hope to see you there!

2016 General/Special Election – Advance Voting Has Begun

voteSample Ballot

Click here for Victoria Estates residents: 2016-general-ballot
In addition to races, there are four proposed constitutional amendments, and a special vote concerning homestead exemptions.

Click here for My Voter Page with Sample Ballots

Some Advance Voting Locations

Decatur
10/31 – 11/4 (7:00 am – 7:00 pm)
330 W Ponce de Leon Ave
Decatur, GA 30030

Brookhaven
10/31 – 11/4 (7:00 am – 7:00 pm)
4362 Peachtree Rd, NE
Brookhaven, GA 30319

Main
10/17 – 10/22 (7:00 am – 7:00 pm)
10/24 – 10/29 (7:00 am – 7:00 pm)
10/30 (12:00 pm – 5:00 pm)
10/31 – 11/4 (7:00 am – 7:00 pm)
4380 Memorial Drive
Decatur, GA 30032

General/Special Election

November 8, 2016
INTOWN COMMUNITY CHURCH
2059 LAVISTA ROAD
ATLANTA, GA, 30329 – 0000
Election Day precinct hours are 7:00 am – 7:00 pm.

Proposed Georgia Constitutional Amendments

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Amendment 1

Provides greater flexibility and state accountability to fix failing schools through increasing community involvement.
Senate Resolution No. 287 Act No. 309 Ga. L. 2015, p. 1498 “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?”

Amendment 2

Authorizes penalties for sexual exploitation and assessments on adult entertainment to fund child victims’ services.
Senate Resolution No. 7 Act No. 306 Ga. L. 2015, p. 1497 “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow additional penalties for criminal cases in which a person is adjudged guilty of keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, pandering, pandering by compulsion, solicitation of sodomy, masturbation for hire, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, or sexual exploitation of children and to allow assessments on adult entertainment establishments to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund to pay for care and rehabilitative and social services for individuals in this state who have been or may be sexually exploited?

Amendment 3

Reforms and reestablishes the Judicial Qualifications Commission and provides for its composition, governance, and powers.
House Resolution No. 1113 Act No. 537 Ga. L. 2016, p. 896 “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to abolish the existing Judicial Qualifications Commission; require the General Assembly to create and provide by general law for the composition, manner of appointment, and governance of a new Judicial Qualifications Commission, with such commission having the power to discipline, remove, and cause involuntary retirement of judges; require the Judicial Qualifications Commission to have procedures that provide for due process of law and review by the Supreme Court of its advisory opinions; and allow the Judicial Qualifications Commission to be open to the public in some manner?”

Amendment 4

Dedicates revenue from existing taxes on fireworks to trauma care, fire services, and public safety.

Senate Resolution No. 558 Act No. 530 Ga. L. 2016, p. 895 “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that the proceeds of excise taxes on the sale of fireworks or consumer fireworks be dedicated to the funding of trauma care, firefighter equipping and training, and local public safety purposes?” DEKALB COUNTY SPECIAL ELECTIONS YES NO DeKalb County Homestead Exemption Act 264, House Bill 596 (Vote for One) “Shall the Act be approved which amends the homestead exemption from DeKalb County ad valorem taxes for county purposes in an amount equal to the amount by which the current year assessed value of a homestead exceeds the base year assessed value of such homestead by extending the time limitation on such exemption?”

DeKalb County Special Election

DeKalb County Homestead Exemption Act 264, House Bill 596
Shall the Act be approved which amends the homestead exemption from DeKalb County ad valorem taxes for county purposes in an amount equal to the amount by which the current year assessed value of a homestead exceeds the base year assessed value of such homestead by extending the time limitation on such exemption?

Our Representatives’ Statements Concerning the Ballot:

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Amendment 1

Commissioner Kathie Gannon – “This amendment would allow the state to manage schools that have been deemed as failing, based upon their College and Career Ready Performance Index score. These schools would be shut down or placed under a statewide opportunity district overseen by a governor-appointed Superintendent.”

Senator Elena Parent – “Summary: Amendment 1 is a constitutional amendment that would allow the General Assembly to authorize the establishment of an Opportunity School District (OSD) to provide for state interventions for low-performing schools.

Governance: The OSD Superintendent, who is appointed by the Governor, is granted broad power and flexibility to waive State BoE rules, regulations, policies, and procedures for OSD schools with the ultimate goal of improving academic performance. The OSD Superintendent has the authority to select, approve, or remove the school principal for schools in the opportunity district and governing board members for opportunity which become OSD charters.

Structure: The proposal authorizes the OSD to take over up to 20 schools a year with a cap of 100 schools total. OSD schools will remain in the district for at least five years but no more than 10. If an opportunity school or OSD charter earns above an F on the relevant criteria for three consecutive years, the school will be removed from the OSD or no longer subject to OSD oversight.

Powers: The OSD director can take one of four steps regarding a struggling school: (1) direct management, (2) shared governance, (3) conversion to a charter school or (4) closure. Any teacher who is not hired on at their school post-OSD takeover remains an employee of the local school district and the district may determine whether or not to keep employing the teacher.

Elena’s Opinion:
I voted against the Opportunity School District and plan to vote no. While the goal of improving failing schools is laudable and I believe that Governor Deal is well-intentioned, the appointment of a superintendent who is unaccountable to taxpayers and parents is not a recipe for success. There is no specific plan delineated as to how the failing schools would be turned around. This, when coupled with the lack of accountability, is worrisome. We do need to turn around our struggling schools, but state leaders should be following proven, research-based methods of doing so rather than chasing the “state-takeover” fad that has taken root in some nearby states. There are no quick fixes and this “solution” does not provide a long-term plan for improving education in Georgia for all our kids, which is what we need to do.
There are theoretically some pros. There is a chance good reforms could emerge at the school level. These could be positive. We just don’t know, because there is no specific plan for voters to count on. (In the other extreme, there is no prohibition on the use of for-profit charter managers, for example.)

The biggest pro that I see is that the threat of state takeover and the loss of associated local school dollars could motivate some local school boards to implement reforms that have not occurred due to lack of motivation or politics. However, I believe that there are other, better ways to accomplish that goal. To begin with, current law permits the State School Superintendent to exercise several of these powers.

This is a complex issue. For those who want more information, following are links to several articles:
An op-ed I wrote in Reporter Newspapers explaining my opposition to the OSD.
AJC: 7 Things to Know about Gov. Deal’s Opportunity School District
Report from pastor who attended OSD meeting with Gov. Deal
Info from group supporting OSD

Amendment 2

Commissioner Kathie Gannon – “This amendment will allow for establishing a Safe Harbor Fund for rehabilitative and support services to sexually exploited children. Taxpayers would not contribute, but would use fines from convicted sex trafficker cases and annual fees from adult entertainment industries.”

State Senator Elena Parent – Summary: Amendment 2 establishes a new Safe Harbor for the Sexually Exploited Children Fund, receiving money through $2,500 fines on convicted traffickers and an annual fee of $5,000 or 1% of annual gross revenue, whichever is greater, on adult entertainment establishments. Funds are then used to provide housing, mental care, education, job training, legal help, and child care to the victims. Convicted traffickers will also be listed on the state sex offender website.

Elena’s Opinion:
I voted for Safe Harbor and plan to vote yes. Our city and state see some of the highest levels of human trafficking in the country. I agree with the goal of ensuring that victims of child sex trafficking get the needed counseling, medical care, education, and other support services they need to live happy and healthy lives – and without raising taxes. Some feel that the fee on the adult entertainment venues is punitive or unconstitutional, but I feel that the good in this amendment strongly outweighs the bad.

Amendment 3

Commissioner Kathie Gannon – “This amendment will abolish the longstanding Judicial Qualifications Commission overseen by the judicial branch and give the authority to the general assembly. “

State Senator Elena Parent – Summary: Under current law, the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) is comprised of two judges selected by the Georgia Supreme Court, three lawyers appointed by the State Bar of Georgia and two citizens appointed by the Governor. The proposed constitutional amendment would change the appointment powers: appointments would be made by the Speaker of the House, the Lieutenant Governor and the Governor. The public will now be denied access to a judge’s disciplinary hearing before the JQC for the first time.

Elena’s Opinion:
I am strongly against Amendment 3 and will vote no. This amendment eliminates the JQC as an independent constitutional entity and puts political appointments in its place. As such, it makes the oversight of our judiciary less democratic and more political. And indeed, it appears that at least some of the impetus for the passage of this Amendment is dissatisfaction with actions of the JQC by members of the Legislature, one of whom happens to be a former judge who was investigated by the JQC.

Furthermore, the Legislature’s work on this has been the reverse of thoughtful policymaking. Hearings should have been held to take testimony to determine what exactly is wrong with the system the way it is and then a solution addressing those perceived flaws should have been crafted. Instead, hearings are being held NOW to determine those things. I consider the passage of this Amendment to be mostly a political power play. This is actually all you need to know to understand why you should vote against Amendment 3.
Conducting a Google search will bring up other interesting articles, if you so choose to immerse yourself further.

Amendment 4

Commissioner Kathie Gannon – “This amendment would support moving tax revenue from the sale of fireworks to trauma care, fire protection services and fire safety. 5% of the tax revenue would be allotted to local governments to support 911 services.”

State Senator Elena Parent – Summary: Amendment 4 will dedicate the proceeds from a general excise tax on fireworks to support funding for fire protection services, trauma care and public safety. The intent of the amendment is to establish a permanent revenue source that may not be diverted by the legislature without repeal of this amendment by the people.

Elena’s Opinion:
I will vote yes for this amendment. If passed, this creates a permanent fund for trauma care, fire safety and public safety, all of which are impacted by the legalization of fireworks in Georgia. The use of the excise tax for this purpose should provide a direct funding stream to ameliorate any harms created by the use of fireworks.

DeKalb County Homestead Exemption Act 264, House Bill 596

Commissioner Kathie Gannon – “In 2015, the General Assembly passed legislation to call a referendum to extend the existing Homestead Property Tax Assessment Freeze (applicable only to County taxes) until 2022. Voters wishing to extend the Homestead Property Tax Assessment Freeze until 2022 should vote yes to approve the legislation. Voters wishing to end the freeze at the end of 2016 should vote no. The freeze maintains your property value at the level set when you elected to take the freeze.”

State Senator Elena Parent – A “yes” vote will extend the existing Homestead property tax assessment freeze (applicable to County taxes only) until 2022.

Commissioner Jeff Rader – “In 2015, the DeKalb Delegation passed local legislation to call a referendum this November to extend the existing Homestead Property Tax Assessment Freeze (applicable only to County taxes) until 2022.

However, the legislation went further to stipulate that, if the voters approved separate referenda to dedicate the Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST) exclusively to tax relief (eliminating the current 20% available for capital improvements) AND to approve a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) for capital projects (to replace the 20% HOST allocation to capital), THEN the Assessment Freeze would be TOLLED (suspended) while those taxes were in effect. The authors of the legislation have said that the wording was in error; instead of “tolled” they meant “extended”. Nevertheless the language is plain, and therefore binding. As a consequence of this error, the Board of Commissioners withdrew plans for a referendum on the HOST amendment and the SPLOST. Legislators intend to address the error in this year’s General Assembly.

All this complexity notwithstanding, voters wishing to extend the Homestead Property Tax Assessment Freeze until 2022 should vote yes to approve the legislation, or the freeze will expire at the end of 2016, exposing many homeowners to increased County property taxes

Jeff Rader”

Discussion on the Proposed GA Constitutional Amendment “Opportunity School Districts”

Become an informed voter!
Please join CINS, SEACS, and the Carver Cluster for a Round Table Discussion on the Proposed
GA Constitutional Amendment “Opportunity School Districts”
When: Wednesday, October 19, 2016, 7 – 8:30 pm
Where: The Frazer Center, 1815 S Ponce De Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30307
http://www.frazercenter.org/wp-content/u…

If entering through the front gate from S. Ponce, take the driveway all the way up to the right to back of the property and park. Head towards the circular drive, and you should see a sign and a cracked door into the Senior Center.

What: We are hosting a community discussion with panelists representing both sides of the proposed amendment, including:
• Diane Jacobi, Public Education Advocate (substituting for Janet Kishbaugh, Director of Research and Information Services, Public Education Matters http://publiceducationmattersga.org/)
• Steven Quinn, State Outreach Manager for GergiaCAN, http://www.gacan.org/ and Field Coordinator for Students First, https://www.studentsfirst.org/georgia/wh…
• Atlanta Public Schools Board Member, District 3 Representative, Matt Westmoreland, will be on hand to answer questions about their Turnaround Strategy currently underway.
• GA House of Representatives District 59 Representative Margaret Kaiser will also be on hand to answer any questions on the proposed amendment and its history and future significance.
For more information and to become an informed voter, please see: http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-U…

Emory Annexation into Atlanta – Update

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Emory University has indicated its proposed annexation into Atlanta will not occur in 2016. Victoria Estates and adjacent areas are not included in the annexation but could be impacted in regard to transportation, public safety, schools, and taxes.

The COVE board is working the following response:
• Obtain more definitive responses from officials on impacts
• Provide updates to neighbors through COVE Report
• Conduct survey of neighbors to understand concerns
• Neighborhood meeting with Atlanta, DeKalb County, and Emory representatives

While Victoria Estates is not included in the annexation, it could be annexed by petition of residents. The petition option would be available to VE only if the Emory petition is successful and Victoria Estates then has a border with Atlanta.
A collection of articles concerning annexation proposals on Decaturish

DeKalb Interim CEO, Commissioners Address Water Billing Issues with New Resolution – New Water Meter Installation Halted

DECATUR, Ga. – The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution introduced by DeKalb Interim CEO Lee May which empowers the chief financial officer (CFO) with discretion to address unusually high water bills due to billing or meter errors.

The legislation clarifies code sections 25-106(f) to specify that the CFO has the authority to make adjustments to a customer’s account for billing errors, as long as the dispute was recorded within two years of the billing error itself.

The resolution also stops the installation of the new iPerl water meters and calls for the establishment of convenient bill resolution sites around the county during the moratorium.

Another proactive step addresses excessively high bills. In these cases, Chief Operating Officer Zach Williams has directed the Utility Customer Operations Center to send out estimated bills with messaging that indicates that the county is investigating the cause of the variance. Once a high variance is detected, a work order for a water meter inspection will automatically be generated.

“Sending out estimated bills will let our customers know what is going on with their accounts in a timely manner, as well as provide a mechanism for them to pay their average amount due while we get to the root of the problem,” COO Williams said.

On Sept. 20, Interim CEO May issued a moratorium through the end of 2016 on the disconnection of residential water accounts that have been contested through the Utility Customer Operations Center.

Water customers who believe their bill is in error should notify the Utility Customer Operations Center at 774 Jordan Lane in Decatur, or call (404) 371-3000 to speak with a customer service representative. Account holders with disputed balances are required to pay their average amount due until the case is resolved, with the balance, if any, due at the time the investigation is complete.

Further, a third-party dispute process is being developed to provide customers an additional avenue to resolve their disputes. This process will be implemented during the moratorium.

There will be no water service disconnections for customers with account balances in dispute who have paid their average bill through the end of 2016.

Jeff Rader

W.D. Thomson Park Work Days Kick-Off 10/22

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The 2016-2017 season of volunteer work days at W. D. Thomson Park begins on Saturday, Oct. 22, from 9a-12noon.

(And please save these dates for more fall & winter work sessions: Saturdays Nov. 12 and Dec. 10, and MLK Day Monday Jan. 16. We’ll announce our dates for February through June at a later date.)

October 22 will mark the start of the 5th year of the “Friends of Thomson Park” group. Over each of the previous 4 years, individual park lovers have contributed well over 200 person-hours of time at WDT. They’ve accomplished a great deal and had a good time at it! This year we’ll be expanding our volunteer outreach and involvement, and changing our focus to reflect having achieved most of the highest-priority goals of our initial years.

Please help make this first session of the 2016-2017 season a successful one. There are tasks for young and old, large and small. Friends will continue to remove some invasive plants, but also make preparations so that in coming months we’ll be able to relocate some heavily eroded trails, rebuild failing bridges and stairways (and add some new ones!), plant native species and install benches in some of the areas we’ve reclaimed from privet and thicket, add more signage and trail information, and much more.

As always, we’re also interested in snacks and beverages for our workers, which could be delivered to Patrick Noon in advance, if need be. Contact Patrick at
Patrick.Noonan@emory.edu

Open Streets Emory Village – October 23rd – 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm

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Enjoy Oxford and N. Decatur closed to vehicular traffic from roundabout to roundabout in the Village for pedestrians, bikes and strollers. Healthy activities, good food, music, arts & crafts and science.

Some Recent Area Zoning Applications

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This application has been filed with DeKalb County and will be heard by the Community Council in October before going to the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners in November.

Z-16-20971

2312 and 2320 LaVista Rd NE, 4 1/2 acres

Edge City Properties seeks a rezoning from R-100 to RSM for 5 fee-simple detached homes and 18 attached duplex homes.

http:bit.ly/2cOkrdJ

Z-16-20895
DEFERRED UNTIL OCTOBER 25, 2016; BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS PUBLIC HEARING
Commission District: 2 Super District: 6
18-102-04-001, 18-113-11-012, 18-113-11-137

Application of Oak Hall Companies, LLC to rezone property from R-100 (Single-Family Residential), C-2 (General Commercial), and M (Light Industrial) to RSM (Residential Small Lot Mix) to allow an 82-unit fee simple townhome development at a density of 5.74 units per acre. The property is located on the north side of North Druid Hills Road, approximately 551 feet east of Spring Creek Road, at 2369, 3352, & 3396 North Druid Hills Road, Decatur. The property has approximately 753 feet of frontage on North Druid Hills Road and contains 14.28 acres.

Additional zoning information… http://commissionerrader.com/boc-business-zoning-summary.html

DeKalb County Seeks 2017 Art Calendar Contest Entries from Elementary School Students

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DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management is calling for artistic elementary students across the county to enter its 2017 Art Calendar Contest. Entries are due by Oct. 21.

The 2017 theme is “Your Water – To Know It Is to Love It.”

Artwork ideas could include conserving water; using water wisely; water/wastewater treatment; cleaning up our water resources; reducing water pollution and more.

Submitted artwork must be drawn on a landscape piece of white paper 8.5 inches tall by 11 inches wide. On the back of each entry, clearly print the artwork title; student’s name, grade level and age; school name and address; and teacher’s name, contact number and email address.

Watershed Management will honor 12 winners during a special ceremony at the Dec. 13 Board of Commissioners meeting.

For a complete set of rules or more information, visit www.dekalbwatershed.com/education.html or contact Michael O’Shield, environmental education coordinator, at (770) 724-1456 or msoshield@dekalbcountyga.gov.

COVE Report – September 12, 2016

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Emory Annexation into Atlanta

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Emory University has begun the process to be annexed into the City of Atlanta. Due to the nature of Emory’s annexation (by a percentage of property method) the annexation is likely to proceed and could occur by year end. Victoria Estates and adjacent areas are not included in the annexation. Some potential impacts to Victoria Estates are transportation, public safety, schools, and taxes.

The COVE board is planning the following response:
• Obtain more definitive responses from officials on impacts
• Provide updates to neighbors through COVE Report
• Conduct survey of neighbors to understand concerns
• Neighborhood meeting with Atlanta, DeKalb County, and Emory representatives

While Victoria Estates is not included in the annexation, it could be annexed by petition of residents. The petition option would be available to VE only if the Emory petition is successful and Victoria Estates then has a border with Atlanta.

Below is a link discussing the announcement and additional information provided by Emory University.
http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/atlanta-may-expand-to-cover-emory-university/nsKjc/

 

From Emory University

Emory

Emory is beginning the process to annex into the City of Atlanta. There are several questions that have been raised regarding this annexation that Emory would like to clarify.

• It is important to note that Emory would remain in DeKalb County but would move its municipal jurisdiction from unincorporated DeKalb to the City of Atlanta in DeKalb County.

• Emory University is not asking, nor does the process require anyone else for it to change its municipal jurisdiction from unincorporated DeKalb to the City of Atlanta.

• This decision does not change school districts, since neighboring communities like Druid Hills will still be self-determining regarding annexation. Druid Hills High School would remain in unincorporated DeKalb County.

• Emory University would annex by petition to the City of Atlanta. The neighborhoods that surround Emory’s campus would not be part of this petition. Earlier news reports incorrectly stated that Emory’s petition requires 60 percent neighborhood approval.

Emory University, like neighboring communities, has been considering and evaluating annexation options for several years. Currently, Emory is beginning the process to annex its campus into the City of Atlanta. Emory’s annexation into the City of Atlanta has always been viewed as one of the most viable, long-term options and one that provides consistency and alignment relative to the University’s marketing and branding initiatives. Emory already promotes its location as Atlanta, is known internationally as being located in Atlanta, routinely recruits faculty and students to Atlanta, and has an Atlanta address and zip code. The prestige of Emory as an international university and Atlanta as a global city are inextricably linked.

 

COVE Annual Membership Meeting

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Thank you everyone who attended the annual membership meeting. For a recap of our accomplishments here is the annual report. COVE Annual Report 2016

Membership unanimously elected new board members Jen Tipping and Barbara Zehnbauer. Tim Buchman has retired from the board. Thank you for your service! Thanks to Bobby and Joselyn Baker for hosting the meeting! The 2016/2017 COVE Board Members and Officers – Bobby Baker, Susan Bell, Pat Killingsworth, Emily Koumans, Carl Lange, Ron McCauley, Martha Pacini, Jen Tipping, David Woolf, and Barbara Zehnbauer.

Ethics Town Hall Meeting this Wednesday at 7 PM
9.12.2016 – Representative Scott Holcomb

 

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This coming Wednesday, September 14th at 7 PM, Rep. Taylor Bennett and I are hosting a town hall meeting in Ashford Park in Brookhaven. The address is 2980 Redding Road, Atlanta 30319.

Stacey Kalberman, who was recently hired as DeKalb County’s first full-time Ethics Officer, will join us to talk about the work she is doing to educate county officials and employees on best practices and to address infractions.

The formation of the new Board of Ethics and the position that Stacey now fills are the result of an incredible amount of work by a DeKalb County task force and a task force of citizens who wanted change. Both groups came to the same conclusion: that it was critical to create this position to increase ethical standards in DeKalb County’s government.

I’m proud to have played a part in helping to make this happen. I sponsored the bill that ultimately received unanimous support in the General Assembly and approval by DeKalb citizens in a referendum last year.

Please join me and Rep. Bennett in welcoming Stacey Kalberman and learning about the critical work she and the Board of Ethics are doing.

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/ethics-chief-hopes-to-make-a-difference-in-dekalb/nq7dd/

Atlanta Cannot Keep Five Areas It Annexed

fulton-county-annexations

This is the AJC story about the City of Atlanta annexation of 5 Fulton areas. The annexations were disallowed on a technicality. It gives voters in the footprint of the City of South Fulton an opportunity to vote on cityhood in a referendum in November.

http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/atlanta-cannot-keep-five-areas-it-annexed-from-ful/nsTYr/?ecmp=newspaper_email##

 

 

 

2016 General Election Dates

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September 20, 2016
Earliest day for a registrar to mail an absentee ballot for the General Election/November Special Election.

October 11, 2016
Last day a person may register and be eligible to vote in the General Election/November Special Election /Runoff Election.

October 17, 2016
Advanced (In-Person) Voting begins for the General Election/November Special Election.

October 29, 2016
Mandatory Saturday Voting for the General Election/November Special Election.

November 8, 2016
General Election
INTOWN COMMUNITY CHURCH
2059 LAVISTA ROAD
ATLANTA, GA, 30329 – 0000
Election Day precinct hours are 7:00 am – 7:00 pm.

If you prefer to vote off-site, mail or fax your absentee ballot application to your county registrar.
Click Here for an Absentee Ballot Application

 

Save the Date: Mason Mill Civic Association Fall Picnic – Sunday, October 23, 5-7 p.m. @ Thomson Park

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Look for more information about this event in early October. Be sure to join your fellow Victoria Estates and Mason Mill neighbors in this annual event. We’re looking for a great turnout. The weather will be cooler and October is supposed to be the driest month in the year. Let’s hope so!

 

 

Commissioner Jeff Rader – Information on Emory Annexation

Rader

http://commissionerrader.com/reader-county-news/items/emory-annexation-handout.html

Commissioner Kathie Gannon – Newsletter

about-kathie-gannon

Downtown Decatur Concert Series – Saturdays in Sept. @ 7 pm, Library Events…
http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=ef5c6991fe780fc647f49a76d&id=6152d9bf1b&e=b5c95ea993

 

 

Senator Mary Margaret Oliver – Newsletter

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100th Anniversary of national parks, Emory Annexation into City of Atlanta, Ban on Assault Type of Weapons Bill…

http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Headed-into-a-Busy-Fall.html?soid=1114968672874&aid=KZXhewSeYVg

Property Tax Payment Update
First Installment Due Date – September 30

Irvin J. Johnson, DeKalb County Tax Commissioner, would like to remind all DeKalb County taxpayers that the due date for the first installment of 2016 real estate and personal property taxes is Friday, Sept. 30.

First installment taxes which are not received or postmarked by the Sept. 30 deadline will incur a 5 percent late payment penalty.

There are drop boxes located on the front and side of the Central Office, located at 4380 Memorial Drive in Decatur. Another convenient option is payment by electronic check or credit card at our website: www.dekalbcountyga.gov/taxcommissioner. Please note, there is a 2.35% processing fee for all credit card payments on the site, but check payments have no additional fees. Walk-in customers to the Central office, North, or South satellite offices, may pay by cash, check, debit card ($1.50 service fee) or credit card (2.35% service fee).

Property owners with questions are encouraged to visit the Tax Commissioner’s website at www.dekalbcountyga.gov/taxcommissioner, call the Tax Commissioner’s Office at 404-298-4000 or email proptax@dekalbcountyga.gov for assistance.

DeKalb County 24 Hour Tag Renewal Locations

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COVE Report May 23, 2016

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Tuesday, May 24 – Primary and Nonpartisan General Election!

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If you’re a registered voter and have not already done so, tomorrow is your opportunity to vote. To see your ballot, click on this link https://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do

There are a lot of items so reviewing in advance is recommended. It includes votes on continuing the 1 penny school tax and primary candidates for DeKalb CEO and other elected officials. If you have questions on how to vote – Nextdoor.com is one way to ask your neighbors.

INTOWN COMMUNITY CHURCH
2059 LAVISTA ROAD
ATLANTA, GA, 30329 – 0000
Election Day precinct hours are 7:00 am – 7:00 pm.

Sanitation Holiday Pickup and How to Get the New Recycle Cans

recycle can

There will be no pickup for Victoria Estates on Monday, May 30 due to the Memorial Day holiday. Pickup  will be on Tuesday, May 31.

You may have noticed some of your neighbors have new 65-gallon blue recycle cans. These are identical to the green cans that you already have, except blue, and allow you to place all of your recycling together. They replace the small blue carts and blue bags. If you’d like to order one online and have it delivered to your home, follow these instructions. There is some detail, but it does save you the hassle of picking one up.

  1. Click on this link for the application. http://www.dekalbcountyga.gov/sanitation_SCSC/pdf/residential-garbage-and-recycling-roll-cart-application.pdf
  2. Enter your personal information and check the box under “Recycling roll cart” that says “65-gallon recycling roll cart”
  3. Email your application to SanitationPhase2@dekalbcountyga.gov or the mail address provided.
  4. You will then receive an email from the county with instructions to make an online $15 payment. Follow these instructions to make a payment.
  5. You will then have your new can dropped off by the county within a few weeks.

COVE Annual Membership Meeting

annual meeting2

Our annual meeting is being scheduled for the month of July. The annual meeting includes an update on activities and election of board members. Look for an announcement soon.

COVE Membership Drive

Membership-matters

Be on the lookout for an email concerning the 2016 membership drive with a thank you note for dues paid, a request to renew your membership, or a request to join. COVE dues are $25/year/household for Victoria Estates neighbors. The email list has been updated based on the new neighborhood directory so if this is your first time receiving the COVE Report, welcome!

COVE Report – February 16, 2015

COVEReport logo2

 

 

 

January 26: DeKalb County Presents Legislative Agenda to Delegation…Sort of

marthaMartha Pacini – February 13

On January 26, members of the DeKalb County legislative delegation, the DeKalb County CEO’s office, the CEO’s leadership team, at least four county commissioners, numerous lobbyists and more than a few interested citizens crowded into room 605 at the Coverdell Legislative Office Building to review DeKalb County’s legislative agenda. It seems, however, that the county commission had not yet approved the legislative agenda—two of the commissioners, Kathie Gannon and Jeff Rader, said they had not seen it—nor did it incorporate the final recommendations of the Operations Task Force, which the legislative delegation discovered by asking questions about whether the legislative agenda had been driven by the task force recommendations.

Nonetheless, the presentation proceeded. With assistance from the County’s new program developed by Georgia Tech, Interim CEO Lee May was able to outline for the first time the real cost impacts of annexation and incorporation on the county. This demonstration highlighted the effect on the county of having large swaths of commercial/industrial property annexed or drawn into new city lines, because these properties generally pay more in taxes than they receive in services.

Following this demonstration, ICEO May outlined his six primary recommendations, although they were not yet approved by the county commission:

(1) The formation of a charter review commission;
(2) Ethics board reform;
(3) The formation of an independent internal audit function;
(4) The development of a purchasing policy that would be approved by the commission once developed by the administration;
(5) The development of a special tax district to provide funding for unfunded legacy costs as a result of annexation/incorporation;
(6) HOST reform, with a potential SPLOST to fund infrastructure projects.

The ICEO also requested a hiatus on annexations and incorporations for a year.

He also suggested that there could be a possible sharing of the “city portion” of non-residential property tax revenues when new cities are incorporated to help offset the impact of the new cities on the rest of the county.

While the intent of the recommendations was well received, most meeting attendees noted the lack of formal approval by the county commission and the absence of coordination with the task force recommendations.

Google Fiber Coming to Atlanta, Decatur, Avondale… (Victoria Estates?)

Google_fiber_logoGoogle announced it has selected Atlanta and certain surrounding cities to provide its new super high speed internet (and TV). With speeds an average of 100 times faster than typical internet, this brings great competition for an important service.

Victoria Estates is not currently included in the proposed service area, but you can “vote” for Victoria Estates by visiting the Google fiber site. Click here. Simply type your street address and enter your (free) google email address, and it will register as a request for Victoria Estates. Google is recording your responses to determine which neighborhoods to extend to.

Thanks to COVE board member David Woolf for bringing this to our attention.

City of Decatur Officially Announces Google Fiber, Answers “What’s Next?”

NPR Story about Municipal Broadband

City Annexation/Incorporation Plans: How They Might Affect Victoria Estates

Martha Pacini – February 13

Decatur masterplanmapThe City of Decatur has announced plans to annex property that includes the commercial property at the intersection of North Decatur and Clairmont (http://www.decaturish.com/2014/12/decatur-commission-approves-annexation-plan/). Several neighborhood associations have registered their objections to the plan, including the Druid Hills Civic Association, the Clairmont Heights Civic Association and the Medlock Area Neighborhood Association. Their concerns, as stated by the Druid Hills Civic Association, center on “any city annexation proposal that includes a significant amount of commercial property while excluding the surrounding residential area, thereby reducing the tax base needed to support that residential area.”

For Victoria Estates residents, we might think that this issue has no affect on us, and therefore we have nothing to do with it. Consider this, though. When commercial property is annexed or drawn into city boundaries two things happen, both of which have a disproportionate effect on unincorporated DeKalb County, including Victoria Estates.

First, because commercial properties are considered “donor” properties, they generally pay more in taxes than they cost in providing services. For this reason, both the county and cities covet them. When a city annexes or incorporates a commercial area that was previously in an unincorporated part of the county, a percentage of the property taxes are shifted to the city in exchange for the city’s taking on a certain number of services, usually parks, permitting, road maintenance, code enforcement, and sometimes police. When a commercial area is annexed or incorporated, the county’s ability to use the surplus thrown off by commercial properties to offset the costs of providing services to the residential properties is compromised, and this becomes especially apparent when commercial property is annexed without the residential property that abuts it.

Second, commercial properties are the source of sales taxes for HOST, 20 percent of which goes toward capital maintenance (think: roads, sidewalks & bridges). When a commercial property is within a city, the capital improvement portion of the sales tax goes predominantly toward city improvements. And, if the residential property surrounding the commercial property isn’t annexed, then the funds needed for proper maintenance of the area are not supported by the sales tax the neighborhoods are spending at the commercial property, but are instead left to the county to fund.

If this is an issue that concerns you, consider contacting your state legislative delegation and making your concerns known. The email list for the entire legislative delegation is on the COVE website, and we know that legislators do pay attention to their emails.

In addition, Leadership DeKalb is hosting a breakfast on Tuesday, February 24, at Georgia Piedmont Technical College on cityhood and annexation. http://www.leadershipdekalb.org/2015/01/cityhood-annexation-just-the-facts/

Several people from Victoria Estates will be attending this meeting, which costs $30 for non-members. If you are interested in carpooling, please contact Martha Pacini or Pat Killingsworth.

Georgia Legislative Session 2015: Email Your Opinion to 3 Who Matter

01 Your Voice CountsMartha Pacini – February 14

New city bills are in the works during the 2015 Georgia legislative session. While Victoria Estates is not currently included in any maps for new cities, things change quickly…even overnight, as we all discovered last year. Thanks to some sleuthing by one of our neighbors, we have come to understand that there are three people in addition to the DeKalb Legislative Delegation that you should make sure know where you live and what you want regarding Victoria Estates and new city formation.

In addition to writing to the DeKalb Legislative Delegation [Carl has been nice enough to put a link here to their email addresses], plan to write as well to the following three people:

• Representative Ed Rynders, Chair of the House Governmental Affairs Committee, erynders@bellsouth.net. The Governmental Affairs Committee handles all new city formation bills.
• Representative John Meadows, Chair of the House Rules Committee, john.meadows@house.ga.gov. Representative Meadows was a main figure in last year’s delay of the new city formation.
• Speaker David Ralston, Speaker of the House of Representatives, david.ralston@house.ga.gov. He should be addressed as Mr. Speaker or Speaker Ralston in any correspondence.

A few pointers for your emails:

• In the subject line, put why you are writing: The formation of new cities in DeKalb County.
• Be aware that this is for new cities only. Annexations are considered local legislation and go through the DeKalb delegation.
• Write individually to each person, even if it is a cut-and-paste. It will have more impact.
• State clearly in the first sentence where you live and why you are writing—“I am a ___-year resident of Victoria Estates in Central DeKalb County, and I am writing in favor/against the formation of the new city of ___.”
• Include your name and address at the end.

Writing to your elected officials does matter. During the “line-drawing” exercise to divide LaVista Hills and Tucker, the chair of the subcommittee heat-mapped every email he received so that he could tell where they were coming from and what they wanted. He used this heat map to draw the lines.

It helps COVE members to represent the neighborhood better if we know what our neighbors are thinking, so if you feel comfortable with it, please share with us a copy of your email. Post here at victoriaestates.info or email to cove@victoriaestates.info

Georgia Legislative Navigator

AJC Legislative Navigator: a daily journal of all votes and all changes in bill status to track day-by-day the legislature’s progress. Click for more

DeKalb Schools

The DeKalb Board of Education Superintendent Public Survey

The DeKalb Board of Education has an online survey for input and feedback. The link includes a timeline for the selection process and a calendar of events. Click for more

Dear Decaturish – The wrong people were in the room

Decaturish.com – Steve Perkins – February 9, 2015

The “Meeting notes” leaked by the Druid Hills Charter Cluster community are fascinating and stupefying in the same instant.  Click for more

Druid Hills Charter Cluster officially disbands

Decaturish.com – Dan Whisenhunt – February 12, 2015

The board met on Feb. 10 and voted to dissolve Druid Hills Charter Cluster Inc. The group’s announcement comes after a recent attempt to restart discussions about the charter cluster idea with DeKalb County Superintendent Michael Thurmond. Click for more

Druid Hills High School student: Annexation will wipe out what made my school great

AJC – Maureen Downey – February 9, 2015

Druid Hills High School senior Jacob Pierce shares his view of the proposed neighborhood annexation that would splinter his high school. Click for more

Druid Hills annexation into Atlanta: ‘An opportunity to join a city on the ascent’

AJC – Maureen Downey – February 9, 2015

Natalie DiSantis is a past resident of Atlanta who now resides in the unincorporated DeKalb community seeking annexation into Atlanta. She supports Together In Atlanta… Click for more

Cityhood/County Initiative Links

Blueprint DeKalb

Seeking comprehensive solutions as big as our problems.  Governmental transparency is a must.  Citizens’ voices count.

DeKalb Strong

DeKalb Strong supports a moratorium on city hood and annexation proposals in DeKalb County to give citizens time to participate in a deliberative, comprehensive, and equitable process for improving DeKalb County governance.

LaVista Hills Yes

LakesideYES and the City of Briarcliff Initiative have collaborated to create a one-city solution for our area of North/Central DeKalb County.

Together in Atlanta

Together In Atlanta is a grassroots effort by neighbors who are seeking annexation into the City of Atlanta.

 

COVE Report – December 11, 2014

Victoria Estates Neighborhood Meeting on Proposed Atlanta Annexation – Tonight, December 11

Featured Speaker: Alex Wan, Atlanta City Councilmember
Date: Thursday, December 11
Time: 6:30 pm
Place: Home of Barb Zehnbauer/Tim Buchman
961 Castle Falls Drive NE
Atlanta, GA 30329

Councilmember Alex Wan has served as a member of Atlanta City Council since 2010. He represents District 6, which includes Ansley Park, Atwood Park, Brookwood Hills, Druid Hills, Lindridge/Martin Manor, Midtown, Morningside, Piedmont Heights, Sherwood Forest, Virginia-Highland, Lindbergh/Morosgo. While Councilmember Wan did not draw the map that is currently under discussion, he is a good source for answering questions you may have about the annexation process and the City of Atlanta.

DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT RELEASES IMPACT ASSESSMENT OF PROPOSED ANNEXATION OF DRUID HILLS

5 December 2014

Study finds 2,922 students will be disenfranchised and displaced, taxes on senior
citizens will increase significantly and Fernbank Science Center will be lost to all
DeKalb students
Today, Superintendent Michael Thurmond issued a report on the impacts of the
proposed annexation of the Druid Hills neighborhood into the City of Atlanta. The
proposed Druid Hills annexation plan is supported by “Together in Atlanta,” a
local group of residents advocating for annexation.
The proposed Druid Hills annexation plan would result in significantly higher
taxes, disenfranchisement and displacement of 2,922 students, and districtwide
loss of instructional opportunities, athletic programs, instructional staff, and
funding potential.
“Innocent students will suffer under this proposed annexation plan,” said Mr.
Thurmond. “With this proposal, the focus and priority for public education will be
on the wants of adults and not the needs of children.”
Highlights of the annexation’s impact on the DCSD include:
– Property taxes for senior citizens over the age of 70 years with incomes of
less than $82,000 will see their property taxes increased by $4,000, or more
than 200 percent. All other property tax payers will experience increases in
taxes by the City of Atlanta.
– A total of 2,922 students in the District will be disenfranchised and
displaced by the annexation with the largest impact being 1,075 students at
Druid Hills High School. Similar impacts will be seen at Druid Hills Middle
School, Fernbank Elementary School, Briar Vista Elementary School,
Laurel Heights School, and the International Center.
– 1,626 students and parents in 37 schools will no longer have access to
DeKalb school choice options.
– 100,000 students will no longer have access to the Fernbank Science
Center resulting in the loss of a STEM Training Center. (DeKalb County has
four of the 11 statewide STEM certified schools with 48 schools working on
certification.
– The old Briarcliff High School, a long-term fixed asset for the DCSD with a
potential value of $50 million, could be forced from the District.
– One of five District stadiums that serve 18 high schools and 18 middle
schools will be lost resulting in a possible loss or reduction of junior
varsity soccer and lacrosse.
A complete copy of the impact report may be found at: www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/

Contact:
Quinn Hudson
678.676.0720
quinn_hudson@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

TOGETHER IN ATLANTA’S RESPONSE TO DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOLS IMPACT ASSESSMENT

December 9, 2014

“Together In Atlanta responds to correct errors in Superintendent Michael Thurmond’s presentation”

DeKalb County School District (DCSD) Superintendent Michael Thurmond made a presentation to the public and the Board of Education regarding Atlanta annexation at the December 8 Board Meeting. Together In Atlanta (TIA) has proposed to maintain the integrity of the Fernbank and Briar Vista Elementary School communities through annexation to Atlanta, in light of the municipalization of DeKalb, which has gained momentum since 2008. While Mr. Thurmond’s interest in the Druid Hills Cluster is welcome, his presentation contained errors and information not up to date. Although the Superintendent responded negatively to DSCD Board Member’s request he meet with TIA last night and has previously shown no interest in the annexation movement, TIA is happy to provide this information so that correct information might be disseminated. We share the goal of success for all students, and the provision of clear and accurate information so that the democratic process of choice can be best-pursued.
Background
Together In Atlanta exists as a result of municipalization efforts across DeKalb County that commenced in 2008 and resulted in the cities of Dunwoody and Brookhaven. In 2012 and 2013, several cityhood movements gained momentum in the General Assembly, including a City of DeKalb, Lakeside, Briarcliff, Tucker, and Stonecrest. The attendance zones for Fernbank and Briar Vista elementary schools, the core of communities, was bisected and affected by many of these legislative proposals. The result would break communities with decades of cohesion. Together In Atlanta sought a plan that would maintain the community, while not affecting the rights of self-determination or cohesion of other elementary school zones. The result is a map that follows exactly the longstanding DCSD zone boundaries for Fernbank and Briar Vista elementary schools.
TIA has Met with Cityhood Proponents and Recommended Adams Stadium, the former Briarcliff High School, and International Center Complex be Excluded from Annexation
When the LaVista Hills map was recently published, TIA reached out proactively to its organizers to resolve conflicts – including suggesting that the Adams Stadium/former Briarcliff High School/International Center complex be included in the LaVista Hills map, not the Atlanta map. This resolution would preserve those facilities for DCSD students. No families live on that property and therefore the integrity of the Briar Vista community would not be harmed by this resolution maintaining TIA’s principle for keeping the elementary schools together. LaVista Hills gains strength and viability with commercial and educational assets. We expect to have similar conversations with Decatur representatives. We believe there are solutions that meet each party’s needs around the edges of all our maps. Had the Superintendent contacted TIA or others involved in these discussions, he would have been aware that TIA’s has clearly and specifically proposed to exclude the Adams Stadium/former Briarcliff High School/International Center complex.
The challenge for all of us, inside the Atlanta annexation map and outside, is that we each lose a building, while maintaining our community. Inside the map communities lose a Middle School building, outside the map communities lose a High School. Reasonable people can disagree about the organizing principle, however we believe that neighborhoods and communities are defined most directly by Elementary Schools – in terms of property value, identities, volunteerism, and childhood friendships. More importantly, we believe minimizing student disruptions is most important at these early learning stages. So we turn forward and look for solutions to “losses” we face.
1. We will solve the Middle School challenge working with Atlanta Public Schools and our communities; we will work collaboratively and creatively to do so.
2. Communities outside the map have assets with which to face the High School challenge – former Briarcliff High School, Avondale High School, Avondale Middle School, and Druid Hills Middle School are all facilities available and with capacity to create exciting, convenient learning environments in the neighborhoods they serve. There should be no doubt DCSD, working with those communities, could find a way forward as well.
Parents in the Atlanta map area should be aware that of the 1626 students the Superintendent’s presentation claims are displaced, using DCSD’s own numbers 1414 are students within the Fernbank and Briar Vista zone whose parents will be given the opportunity to vote by referendum. The Atlanta Public School system has a much more robust program for school choice, charters, a small school program, learning communities, and other programs that parents can consider and choose. It is regrettable that the Superintendent chose to consider students within the zone as ‘displaced’ as they are more properly going to be given greater choice. The Superintendent’s presentation appears overstated at every possible assertion.
Taxes APS millage including bonds is 21.74 mills; DCSD millage is 23.98 mills. The DCSD comparison does not focus on the bottom line differences to taxpayers and instead focuses on the HOST discount. The Druid Hills Civic Association has published tax information, confirmed with the DeKalb County Tax Commissioner, showing the difference in taxes between current DeKalb and Atlanta. While the Superintendent’s presentation claims increase of up to 60%, the actual tax figures for most taxpayers range from 8% lower in Atlanta to a maximum of 11% higher, with the majority of homes having little or no change. http://druidhills.org/2014/10/15/cityhood-annexation-options-and-their-effects-on-taxes-and-schools/. This analysis shows the cost differences to homeowners and factors in the proper charges and HOST credits. The Superintendent’s analysis is insufficient and does not present the whole story or relevant comparison. Citizens should dig deeper to determine what is in their best interest as taxpayers, parents and citizens. While the Superintendent wanders far afield by bringing police, fire, sanitation and water and sewer services into the discussion (incorrectly assuming continued fire and police service by DeKalb, when fire and police would be provided by Atlanta’s world-class fire and police
departments, with double the personnel at about the same cost to the taxpayer), it is ironic that he ignores the straight costs comparison of the two school systems. DeKalb offers homestead properties $12,500 exemption while APS offers a $30,000 exemption. Moreover, the presentation also took liberty with senior exemptions, comparing Atlanta and DeKalb without acknowledging DeKalb does not apply senior exemptions until age 70, while Atlanta applies exemptions at age 65, amounting to five additional years of payment before receiving any senior exemption. APS has a millage of 21.74 while DeKalb charges 23.98 mills. For most homeowners, Atlanta is a less expensive provider of education services than DeKalb. Moreover the Superintendent’s comparison is wrong or inaccurate when it comes to water and sewer, police and fire and the provision of other municipal services. The Superintendent brings the impact of HOST into the discussion perhaps to skirt the comparison of direct educational costs. HOST has never and will never be applied to school taxes. For countywide services the HOST discount will continue for any areas annexed into Atlanta. In fact, the likelihood that HOST will remain as it is currently configured is doubtful. That the DeKalb Superintendent chose to delve into areas of fire, police, garbage, water and sewer, which are outside the purview, authority, and expertise of the school system is unfortunate, particularly in light of the many pressing and germane issues facing the DeKalb school system. Issues of fire, police, garbage, and water and sewer are better addressed by the governments dedicated to serving those interests.
We believe those with an interest in preserving their elementary school attendance zones should get an opportunity to vote on that interest. We are excited about the success of Atlanta, its trajectory going forward, and its responsiveness in this process. There are questions to be answered and a thorough, transparent process between now and November 2015 (if a referendum is enabled) is essential to inform voters. Our pledge is to provide that access and information and we invite all who have an interest to join us in that work

COVE Report – October 22, 2014

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Blueprint DeKalb Needs Your Support!

 Blueprint DeKalb

 

Blueprint DeKalb is a citizen led group providing specific recommendations for reform in DeKalb County government in ethics, auditing, purchasing, elections…. This is a real opportunity for reform and requires your support.

 

Victoria Estates residents Pat Killingsworth and Martha Pacini, along with other citizen representatives have developed position papers outlining best-practice reforms that should be implemented. As the county government is chartered by the state, these reforms require action in the 2015 legislative session.

 

Here is what you can do:

  1. Go to the Blueprint DeKalb website and endorse the blueprint.
  2. Spread the word and ask your friends and associates to sign on.
  3. Ask the DeKalb legislative delegation to support the blueprint.
  4. Use the “please come speak to us” form to schedule meetings with your local groups

 

The DeKalb legislative delegation’s response in a recent meeting held in Brookhaven was positive. This is real chance for reform in DeKalb government, make some noise!

 

Next DeKalb Delegation Meeting to Voice Your Support

October 28 – 7:00 PM – Porter Sanford Center, 3181 Rainbow Dr., Decatur, GA 30034

Summary of the Recommendations in the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb

The Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb proposes initial reforms for rebuilding citizens’ trust and confidence in DeKalb County government.  Until the cloud of corruption and lack of transparency in government operations are eliminated through effective reforms, all County actions and decisions will be suspect.  Citizens must demand that DeKalb County government move to the ethical and transparent high ground. Three of our four recommendations represent best practices that have been proven to save tax dollars, ensure transparency and prevent corruption. The key concepts in the Blueprint are:

  1. Modify the Organizational Act to create an independent, sustainable, professional and comprehensive internal audit function. Many local governments have this function to improve operations, investigate abuses and recommend solutions. The chief audit executive must be independent from the CEO and Board of Commissioners and should report to an independent body, such as a citizens oversight committee.  To be sustainable and comprehensive, the internal audit department’s budget should be mandated funding expressed as a percentage of the annual county budget (0.1%).  The internal audit function should be professional and demonstrate consistent use of best practices by following the practice guidelines outlined by the Institute of Internal Auditors, the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Association of Local Government Auditors.
  2. Modify the Organizational Act to strengthen the Board of Ethics. In recent months, nearly every DeKalb County citizen has recognized the importance of this Board and the ways the appointment process has disrupted the Board’s ability to operate.  The Board cannot be appointed by the Board of Commissioners and the CEO without becoming a pawn in the political process.  To restore public trust in County government decisions, the Board of Ethics should (a) be independently appointed by a panel of civic and professional organizations; (b) be comprised of individuals with experience in ethics, law, finance or relevant subjects; (c) be protected against budget constraints by mandating funding as a percentage of the annual county budget (0.05%); (d) educate all individuals subject to the Board of Ethics jurisdiction regarding ethical behavior.
  3. Modify the Organizational Act to establish checks and balances over the management of the procurement process. Currently, all procurement policies are under the sole jurisdiction of the CEO, which allows for unilateral changes to procurement procedures without consulting or notifying anyone, including the Board of Commissioners. This broad assignment of power can lead to abuses. DeKalb County spends more than $200 million annually on contracts established by the procurement department–an enormous sum of money to lack appropriate oversight by the legislative branch of county government. The process for awarding these contracts must be fair, consistent, transparent and efficient. Both a recent highly critical third-party study and the Special Grand Jury have called for reforms in this crucial area. The Organizational Act should permit the Board of Commissioners to adopt the procurement procedures in county ordinances to provide clear, enforceable law.
  4. The final recommendation for Board of Commissioners and Board of Education term limits is admittedly controversial. The Blueprint suggests placing a straw poll on the ballot to advance the discussion. Consider that an incumbent DeKalb County Commissioner has not lost an election since 1992 when Elaine Boyer beat Jean Williams.  The reason:  incumbents have an enormous advantage both in terms of name recognition and fundraising.  These advantages are barriers to those wanting to enter public service.  In short, DeKalb County benefits every time a well-qualified, talented leader steps up and the power of incumbency is a deterrent.

Most of all, DeKalb County needs engaged citizens. Ultimately we the citizens of DeKalb are responsible for our government. The Blueprint DeKalb team encourages you to become involved in your local government. Please endorse the blueprint on our website (www.BlueprintDeKalb.org) and contact your elected officials to insist on effective reforms. Primarily, get involved and help us begin to restore trust and pride in DeKalb County.

 

Neighborhood Picnic – Thomson Park, Sunday, October 26, 4-6 pm

 picnic2

 

 

 

The Mason Mill Civic Association has rescheduled the neighborhood fall picnic to Sunday, October 26, from 4 – 6 p.m. Please RSVP again by replying to MasonMillCA@gmail.com with:

Name _________________________________

There will be (#) __________ of us at the picnic.

We will bring (main, side or dessert) ______________________

(#)_________ of us can help set up (~3-4pm).

(#)_________ of us can help clean up afterwards (~6:30pm).

 

Some reasons to attend the picnic:

  1. Meet up with the cool people who live around you.
  2. Enjoy the fall in beautiful surroundings.
  3. Meet the person who keeps sending you these emails.
  4. Take a step out of your social comfort zone.

 

We hope you will be there!

 

HALLOWEEN

halloween1-281x300

Mark it on your calendar: the Victoria Estates Civic Association’s annual Halloween party will be held in the Rainier Falls cul-de-sac again this year in late afternoon and early evening. More details will be forthcoming. This event is always fun, so we hope you will join us.

 

Cityhood – Initiatives and Schools

A letter from VE resident Jen Tipping

Jen Tipping 

Hi all,

 

I’m interested in cityhood initiatives and how the various options might impact our local school options. I would like our neighbors to consider not just the taxes and services implications, but also the impact on the schools that would serve VE under the various cityhood possibilities.

 

I attended a meeting on Thursday, October 16th at Briar Vista Elementary. A number of topics were on the agenda, including an Ebola update and academic benchmarks. I was there to hear from Marshall Orson and Matt Lewis about the ramifications of last week’s withdrawal of the Druid Hills Charter Cluster (DHCC) petition.   Alex Wan also attended to field any questions about annexation by City of Atlanta of all or some of the attendance zone served by Briar Vista Elementary. He confirmed that City of Atlanta wishes to expand, the only way to do this is via annexation, and the city will say “yes” to anyone who wants to be annexed. Parents and neighbors attended with what-next questions, given the number of cityhood initiatives underway that impact our attendance zone in different ways.

 

Matt Lewis has led the DHCC petition initiative and offered these two primary reasons for the withdrawal:

 

1) It became clear the county would not approve the petition under any circumstances.

2) There are a number of cityhood, annexation, and alternate charter proposals underway, any of which would divide individual school and the DHCC attendance zone. Withdrawal of the petition allows communities the freedom to act to preserve their school community.

 

Link to official withdrawal letter here. The petition was withdrawn without prejudice, leaving open the possibility that it could be re-filed when conditions are more favorable.

 

Briar Vista includes neighborhoods that cut across the proposed “map lines” drawn by the various cityhood groups. Marshall, Matt, and Alex encouraged the BVE community to organize around the school community. They suggested going back to our neighbors and asking them to consider the elementary school as an organizing principle when considering cityhood initiatives.

 

The Druid Hills Civic Association has a proposed map for annexation to City of Atlanta; the map includes the attendance zones of Briar Vista and Fernbank Elementary. You can see it here, scroll down for map:

http://druidhills.org/2014/10/15/cityhood-annexation-options-and-their-effects-on-taxes-and-schools/

The map includes Emory, as well as Druid Hills High School. Open question: what middle school would students in the attendance zone attend?

 

Everyone present at the meeting felt strongly that most of Dekalb County (at least northern Dekalb County) will be part of a city. Marshall expressed his opinion that annexation to City of Atlanta is the best way to keep BVE and Fernbank communities together. He would very likely be out of a job under this scenario.

 

Without question, this outcome would make BVE and Fernbank part of the Atlanta Public School (APS) system. APS has demonstrated an openness to innovative strategies (e.g., KIPP schools got a charter cluster and the new superintendent hired KIPP director as her deputy, http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2014/jul/10/atlanta-school-chief-turns-kipp-charter-school-net/). It’s possible that the school communities of BVE, Fernbank, and Druid Hills High School, could organize as a “charter cluster” in APS.

 

A couple of notes/assumptions/disclosures:

 

  1. I have 3 kids as BVE. We are thrilled with how things are progressing there – I believe we’re on par with Fernbank and nearby “blue ribbon” schools, just waiting for the reputation to catch up to the reality.

 

  1. I selfishly think organizing around our neighborhood school is a reasonable framework for evaluating cityhood initiatives. The local elementary school serving a neighborhood is an important criterion on which home buyers decide where to live; a strong BVE serving Victoria Estates would surely improve every VE homeowner’s property values.

 

  1. I’m not an expert on cityhood and do not pretend to understand all of the ramifications of VE becoming part of any city – lots of unknowns.

 

Thank you for reading this. This ultimately comes down to each voter’s personal opinion at the ballot box, but I want this to be an informed choice, rather than something that happens to VE.

 

Jen Tipping

 

VOTE! – General Election Candidates & Early Voting Locations

voteGet out and vote!
The contested elections for the Nov. 4 General Election (Victoria Estates) are:

Statewide Offices

 U.S. Senate David A. Perdue (Republican)
M. Michelle Nunn (Democrat)
Amanda C. Swafford (Libertarian)
 Governor
  1. Nathan Deal (I) (Republican)
    Jason J. Carter (Democrat)
    Andrew T. Hunt (Libertarian)
 Lieutenant Governor L.S. “Casey” Cagle (I) (Republican)
Connie J. Stokes (Democrat)
 Secretary of State Brian P. Kemp (I) (Republican)
Doreen Carter (Democrat)
 Attorney General Samuel S. Olens (I) (Republican)
Gregory K. “Greg” Hecht (Democrat)
 Commissioner of Agriculture Gary W. Black (I) (Republican)
Christopher James Irvin (Democrat)
 Commissioner of Insurance Ralph T. Hudgens (I) (Republican)
Elizabeth N. “Liz” Johnson (Democrat)
Edward T. “Ted” Metz (Libertarian)
 State School Superintendent Richard L. Woods (Republican)
Valarie D. Wilson (Democrat)
 Commissioner of Labor
  1. Mark Butler (I) (Republican)
    Robbin K. Shipp (Democrat)
 Public Service Commissioner
 (To succeed H. Doug Everett)
 Herman D. “Doug” Everett (I) (Republican)
John H. Monds (Libertarian)
 Public Service Commissioner
 (To succeed Lauren W. McDonald)
 Lauren W. “Bubba” McDonald (I) (Republican)
Daniel A. Blackman (Democrat)
Robin Aaron Gilmer (Libertarian)

State Senate

 42nd District Gregory E. “Greg” Williams (Republican)
Elena C. Parent (Democrat)

Proposed Constitutional Amendments

“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to prohibit the General Assembly from increasing the maximum state income tax rate?”
Kathie Gannon – “This would keep legislators from increasing the currentmaximum state income tax rate.”Mary Margaret Oliver – “This amendment will unnecessarily restrict future Legislatures from dealing with changing fiscal needs for 100 years. The income tax rate has not been changed since the 30’s, there is no discussion for a change, and this proposed amendment was the product of a partisan and non-substantive debate – I WILL VOTE NO.”
Yes
No
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow additional reckless driving penalties or fees to be added to the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund to pay for care and rehabilitative services for Georgia citizens who have survived neurotrauma with head or spinal cord injuries?”
Kathie Gannon – “This is not a tax but a charge added to reckless driving fines.”Mary Margaret Oliver – “This amendment will increase funds available for rehabilitative services for those experiencing brain and spinal injuries – I WILL VOTE YES.”
Yes
No

Proposed Statewide Referendum

“Shall property owned by the University System of Georgia and utilized by providers of college and university student housing and other facilities continue to be exempt from taxation to keep costs affordable?”
Kathie Gannon – “This would give privately owned student dormitories and parking decks a tax exempt status because of their contracted obligation to serve the university theyare affiliated with.”Mary Margaret Oliver – “This amendment will allow University System properties to be built with private funds instead of University System bond debt – I WILL VOTE YES.”
Yes
No

 

Victoria Estates Area Early Voting Locations and Dates
Voter Registration & Elections Office
4380 Memorial Drive, Suite 300
Decatur, GA 30032
Monday – Friday, 10/13 – 31, 7 AM – 7 PM
Saturday, 10/25, 8 AM – 5 PM
Sunday, 10/26, 12 Noon – 5 PM

Downtown Decatur – Clark Harrison Building
330 W. Ponce de Leon, Room A
Decatur, GA 30030
Monday – Friday, 10/27 – 31, 7 AM – 7 PM

DeKalb Sustainability – Saturday, November – 8:00 am – 12:30 pm

Tucker High School, 5036 LaVista Road Tucker, GA 30084

 

DeKalb County’s renewable energy facilities at the Seminole Road Landfill is the first local government in the U.S. to capture methane landfill gas to produce electricity, natural gas and compressed natural gas (CNG) at a single landfill. The operation is equivalent to taking 30,000 cars off the road every year and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 17,000 tons.

COME HERE ABOUT DEKALB’S SUSTAINABILITY BEST PRACTICES + GET AN UPDATE ON THE SANITATION PILOT FROM BILLY MALONE, DIRECTOR OF SANITATION

Mr. Malone has been certified by SWANA as a Manager of Landfill Operations (MOLO) for 26 years. He is also certified as a Landfill Specialist by SWANA. Billy was elected as the first SWANA Technical Division International Board of Directors Representative for Landfills. He is still serving in that position. Billy was appointed by EPA Global Methane to serve as an instructor and site evaluator for the country of Indonesia. Billy also serves on the Board of Directors for Clean Cities Georgia. Billy has been an active Member of the Nature Conservancy since 1978 and the Wilderness Society since 1979. Billy championed the first Renewable Electrical Energy Project for Georgia Power in 2004 and the Landfill Gas to Renewable Natural Gas and a Public CNG Fueling Facility under a DOE Petroleum Reduction Grant from the Department of Energy in 2009.

 

Upcoming Work on Roads

From The Mason Mill Civic Association

 

Wondering what those marks are on the road?  We believe they are related to the following:

The DeKalb County Watershed Management has notified us that contractors will begin installing new underground flow meters.  These meters are devices mounted inside sewers to measure the depth and velocity of sewer flow.  The meters convey data to a server and will enable the county to mitigate sewer overflows.  County easements are often located on or behind private property, and workers will be entering driveways and backyards to gain access to sewer lines.  The project will take approximately two months and workers will be in the area from 7:30 to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Fridays, excluding holidays.  Personnel will be wearing proper identification and driving marked vehicles.  Feel free to call 404.906.1882 with questions or comments regarding this project. This is the first in a series of projects associated with the county’s ongoing Consent Decree with the EPA and Georgia’s EPD.

 

Brookhaven Receives Applications for Annexation from Executive Park and Children’s Healthcare

 

October 7, 2014  Posted by: The Brookhaven Post

The City of Brookhaven has received formal annexation applications from parties representing Children’s Healthcare of Georgia and Executive Park.

The properties referenced in the applications are located on the east side of Interstate 85, fronted by North Druid Hills Road.

The city is currently reviewing the applications to ensure compliance with state annexation laws.

Brookhaven City Councilman Joe Gebbia said, “Children’s Healthcare is a world-class organization that recognizes the benefits of being a part of the City of Brookhaven. That is a compliment and an asset. We are willing to consider their desire to join our city.”

LakesideYES Chairperson, Mary Kay Woodworth said, “If Brookhaven were to annex this area, it would have an effect on Lakeside because it would take away some commercial and industrial properties.”

State Representative Mike Jacobs (D-80 Brookhaven/Chamblee) said, “If the property owners are interested in annexing into Brookhaven, I sure would like to see that process run its course before the General Assembly goes into session in January of 2015. Otherwise, it’s clear that the very same territory will be in play in other legislative proposals.”

Jacobs said another Century Center situation would be the last thing anyone in the General Assembly wants to see.

While it is unclear exactly what an annexation map will look like, preliminary chatter is that it could encompass an area between Briarcliff Rd. and the Interstate 85 Access Road. – potentially on both sides of North Druid Hills Road.

More as this story develops.

 

COVEReport – September 24, 2014

COVEReport Logo

 

 

Cityhood Edition 2014/2015

Citizens of Victoria Estates may have a decision to make in 2015 concerning cityhood. Proposed city of Briarcliff/Lakeside boundaries may include our neighborhood, be approved by the state legislature, and result in an individual choice at the ballot. Annexation into the city of Atlanta is also a consideration. Initiatives have till November 15 to make a decision on boundaries. Alternatively, Victoria Estates could be left as an unincorporated island, with future annexation a consideration. Please check out the following articles to stay informed.

Cityhood Round 2!

By Ron McCauley, COVE board member – September 25, 2014

Yes neighbors, we get to face this again. The COVE board views this as an extremely important issue and we’ve been monitoring it closely. We consider it vital that Victoria Estates residents be informed. There has been movement on multiple fronts.

City of Lakeside: Lakeside hasn’t gone away. The Lakeside City Alliance has reorganized and is now calling itself “LakesideYES”. Its website link: http://lakesideyes.nationbuilder.com/. It’s currently using the map that was created by Representative Mike Jacobs near the end of the last legislative session. It says that this isn’t the final map and that discussions are still occurring.

City of Briarcliff: The Briarcliff organization still exists, but it’s nearly silent publicly.

Lakeside and Briarcliff: There have been multiple statements in multiple forums stating that the two groups are working together to resolve their differences and to create a compromise map. Thus far, there hasn’t been anything substantive released about their progress in doing so.

Druid Hills, Lakeside map, and annexation by Atlanta: There is strong sentiment among many in the Druid Hills neighborhood to move some key municipal services away from DeKalb County; principally, Zoning and Schools. Druid Hills has lost some significant battles with the county recently and they are quite active in seeking another solution. LakesideYES has released a statement that it won’t consider putting Druid Hills in its map.

Letter to DHCA Board from LakesideYES

Therefore, Druid Hills is actively exploring the possibility of being annexed by the City of Atlanta. The Druid Hills Civic Association has pledged to have a decision on annexation by Thanksgiving 2014.

There is a movement that is calling itself the Atlanta Annexation Initiative (AAI.) Their purpose is to pursue Atlanta annexation. Discussion and meetings are ongoing and COVE board members have continued to monitor and attend meetings.

Victoria Estates: From a cityhood perspective, we could be considered a small boat cast adrift. We are not included in the current Lakeside map, nor are we part of the Atlanta annexation discussions. The map below exhibits the city boundaries that would exist should Lakeside and AAI both come to fruition. As you’ll see, these movements may leave us as part of a small section of unincorporated DeKalb. Opinions vary on whether this would be a concern. However, if we are to become active in discussions and advocate for a specific path it’s vital that we do so soon.

The Cove board is coordinating and will be scheduling neighborhood meetings with City of Atlanta, Lakeside/Briarcliff, and DeKalb County to inform residents of status and issues. Meeting dates and locations are to be announced.

Potential city boundary map near VE (approximate)

Cityhood map

Effect on pocketbooks if we should become part of Atlanta

Druid Hills released a detailed study on the net change to cost of home ownership. It compared current costs in unincorporated DeKalb to costs in Atlanta within DeKalb County. Its conclusion: the significant tax increase is more a matter of perception than reality. The table below summarizes findings.

Appraised ValueUninc DeKalbAtlanta in DeKalbAnnual Increase
$   300,000$   3,688$   3,741$     53
$   400,000$   5,045$   5,331$   286
$   500,000$   6,402$   6,920$   518
$   600,000$   7,759$   8,508$   750
$   800,000$ 10,472$ 11,687$ 1,215
$ 1,000,000$ 13,186$ 14,866$ 1,680

 

Notes:

  1. Water and Sewer fees are billed separately. City of Atlanta states that DeKalb will continue to provide water and sewer service. Rates will be assessed and billed by DeKalb.
  2. Sanitation Fees: Annual rate in Atlanta is currently $321 higher.
  3. Atlanta doesn’t assess fees for street lights ($25), speed humps ($25) and storm water ($48). Effect would be a $98 annual decrease.
  4. According to these figures: for a home with an appraised value of $500,000 the total annual cost increase is projected to be $741.

Click here for the comparison: ATL v Dek 2014 Comparison3

Click here for meeting notes: Atlanta annexation meeting notes (2)

Regardless of the final details, it’s clear that change is coming. We’ll continue to monitor and report as these movements progress.

Mason Mill Cityhood Update

By Mary Hinkel, Mason Mill Civic Association president – September 4, 2014

As you may know, the three proposed cities of Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker have been given until November 15 to agree on boundaries. (See below for a recent AJC online release explaining these developments.)

Last year, parts of our neighborhood were included in the maps for Briarcliff and Lakeside.

  • All residents of Mason Mill, Mason Woods, Vistavia, McConnell and Houston Mill were included in the City of Briarcliff map.
  • The City of Lakeside map included only the northern side of Mason Mill (outside of Victoria Estate), the northern end of Houston Mill (between LaVista and Mason Mill) , all of Mason Woods, the northern end of Vistavia — think Thomson Park side for all of these — and all of McConnell.

We do not know what to expect this year. Will we be drawn into a new city, or not?

While we all would have the option of voting “no” in a 2015 referendum, if the Legislature decided to hold one, the decision will be determined by a majority of those showing up to vote on the issue.

As a further complication, our neighborhood has been invited into a broader conversation with surrounding neighborhoods about possible annexation into the City of Atlanta. This discussion is being led by a Druid Hills Civic Association task force.

The availability of each of these options and the timing for decision making is not known at this time, but the possibility of maintaining the status quo – being part of an unincorporated DeKalb County – appears to be diminishing.

We are working with Victoria Estates (and perhaps Merry Hills, etc.) to host future educational sessions for our residents concerning all of our options. Most likely, we will need to survey our residents this fall, to determine whether we proactively pursue a particular action or not.

Until that time, I encourage each of you to spend time reading the websites of the neighborhood associations listed below, as well as any current postings from the proposed cities, to learn more about each of these options. The neighborhood websites also have information about what an Atlanta annexation might mean.

For further discussion of the City of Atlanta option (including a way to calculate how your Property Taxes might compare with Unincorporated DeKalb), see this document:

In case you were wondering… Emory University is currently weighing the possibility of being annexed by Atlanta. Emory has stated that they do not want to be a part of a City of Briarcliff or Lakeside, mainly because they do not want their campus divided between jurisdictions.

Further, according to the Lindbergh Lavista website, Emory is interested in a transportation plan that will include the Clifton Corridor Transit Line, and they feel that with Atlanta’s recent grant from the Federal Transit Administration for the Atlanta Street Car, financing for the Clifton Corridor Line may come easier and more quickly with the City of Atlanta’s direct federal connections.

 

In summary, here are the questions we Mason Mill residents are currently facing, along with most of our nearby DeKalb neighbors:

  1. Do we want to be included in a city? (Note that even if our residents do not currently want to be included in the city options currently on the table, it is likely that we will be pulled into some future city. This year especially, we have heard very clearly that the legislature does not want to leave “islands” in-between city boundaries.)
  2. If we did need to affiliate, which city would we want to be included in? Options for discussion right now include a combined Lakeside / Briarcliff creation or Atlanta.

 

Proposed DeKalb cities instructed to decide borders

 

By Mark Niesse

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia representatives are giving three DeKalb cityhood movements until Nov. 15 to agree on boundaries. If they don’t, state lawmakers will do it for them.

Maps for the Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker communities must be decided before the end of the year, and those are the only boundaries that will be considered during the 2015 legislative session, according to instructions distributed Tuesday by the House Governmental Affairs Committee.

The current boundaries of the three areas overlap.

The guidelines are intended to resolve local border disputes before state lawmakers consider whether to authorize the creation of new cities, said Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven.

“The problem in the 2014 session was that we were locked in an intractable three-way tug of war over boundaries,” Jacobs said. “In order to avoid that same situation in the 2015 session, somebody has got to come to a decision.”

Committee Chairwoman Amy Carter, R-Valdosta, would appoint a panel of five House of Representatives members to draw city boundaries if the City of Briarcliff InitiativeLakeside Yesand Tucker 2015 can’t agree by Nov. 15. The instructions were developed by Jacobs and Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Dunwoody.

“This process … gives cityhood proponents in DeKalb County the best chance for successful passage of legislation that will allow new city proposals to go before the voters for consideration,” Carter said in a statement. “There is a need to bring order to this process, and the directions outlined to the stakeholders today will accomplish just that.”

Other potential cities in DeKalb County, such as Stonecrest and South DeKalb, could be considered during the normal legislative process, Jacobs said.

What Would Annexation into the City of Atlanta Mean for Our Schools?

Reported by meeting attendees Diane Benjamin and Mary Hinkel

This is a very complex issue to address and was the primary focus of discussion at the most recent Druid Hills-led annexation meeting.

Typically, school children in any annexed community enroll in the annexing entity’s school system.  Hence, moving into the City of Atlanta would mean students in our neighborhood attend City of Atlanta schools.

By law, capital assets within an annexed area also move into the city.  This means that DeKalb Schools could potentially lose Fernbank, Druid Hills HS and Briar Vista. Presumably, ownership of the Fernbank Science Center, which is owned by the DeKalb County School system, would also move to Atlanta Public Schools.

Thus, annexation into the City of Atlanta would break up the existing cluster of seven elementary schools and one middle school feeding into Druid Hills HS.  Conceptually, because the APS middle school on our side of town – Inman Middle School is currently crowded, we could see a conversion of Briar Vista and Fernbank Elementary Schools from K-5 to K-8. Also, since Druid Hills’s current enrollment of approximately 1800 students will decline without the additional students from the other five elementary schools and Druid Hills Middle School, it seems likely that APS would take advantage of the empty seats to at least partially relieve Grady High School.

Any idea that APS would pay DeKalb Public Schools to educate these students within the county school system is politically untenable, especially given the current rocky relationship the City of Atlanta and APS have due to funding issues relating to the Atlanta BeltLine.

The exact impact of annexation on the schools is purely speculation at this point, however, and is subject to negotiation only after the annexation vote.  That residents are even considering the Atlanta Public School system is evidence of the deep distrust of and dissatisfaction with the DeKalb County School system. The Atlanta Public School system, while far from perfect, has a new superintendent and a history of being receptive to parent and neighborhood-led charter school initiatives.

In the opinion of Marshall Orson, our area’s Board of Education member, the best scenario would be for the DeKalb Board of Education to agree to the creation of the Druid Hills Charter Cluster.  The cluster includes seven elementary schools (including our own Briar Vista), Druid Hills Middle School and Druid Hills High School and has the support of the parents and communities served by these schools.

The purpose of the Charter Cluster is to improve education in our schools by:

  • reducing class sizes,
  • refocusing the schools on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics), and
  • improving the authenticity of the current IB and Montessori programs.

(Please see the cluster’s Facebook page and website – www.druidhillschartercluster.org – for background on this charter effort.)

The Charter Cluster’s initial petition was denied on a 5 to 4 vote in late 2013.  This summer, the Charter Cluster re-filed its petition to clarify areas which the Board said were deficient.  By law, the DeKalb Board of Education must vote on the revised Charter Cluster petition, but has not yet done so.  Therefore, residents now have an opportunity to let the Board of Education know their feelings about the Charter Cluster before Board members vote again.

The existence of the Druid Hills Charter Cluster, as an independent legal entity operating under a contract with the State of Georgia and the School Board(s) would enable residents of the annexed area to live in the municipality of Atlanta, but have their children continue to attend the same schools we know and would also keep the Druid Hills HS feeder school system intact.

Additional notes re the formation of “new city” schools:

Both Representative Mary Margaret Oliver and Representative Howard Mosby have stated that, because of objections from rural Georgia, it is highly unlikely that the state constitution will be changed to permit the creation of any new school systems.

Many of the parents in our neighborhood working to change the DeKalb School system believe that the only way to improve the public schools now is either to persuade the school board to approve the Charter Cluster petition or to be annexed into the City of Atlanta.

CALL TO ACTION!!!

Marshall Orson suggested citizens write the following school board members (David Campbell, Karen W. Carter, and Dr. Michael A. Erwin) and the Superintendent (Michael L. Thurmond) to: express support for the Druid Hills Charter Cluster petition, seek their affirmative vote for the petition, and request their help in placing the petition on an upcoming agenda (it takes 5 votes to place this matter on the agenda). Once this vote is held, there is no further recourse for the Druid Hills Charter Cluster.

According to Marshall, the greatest risk to our children is that the Board doesn’t pass the petition. The Druid Hills Charter Cluster is the only way to keep our schools and students together and reduce the risks associated with the DeKalb system losing thousands of students in central DeKalb.  (Find additional points on the cluster’s Facebook page.)

All letters should be addressed to these individuals at the DeKalb County Board of Education, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain, GA  30083.  If you want to email these individuals, you can do so through the school board’s website, although Marshall thought written letters would be more effective.

michael_l_thurmond@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

david_campbell@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

karen_carter@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

michael_erwin@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb County

Blueprint Meeting – September 30, 6:30pm

Maloof Auditorium, Decatur

A diverse group of neighborhood leaders, including VE’s Pat Killingsworth and Martha Pacini, has been working since February on recommendations to give guidance to the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb County. The Blueprint is a framework for reform — it addresses: procurement process, ethics, transparency, and rebuilding trust in our county government. For more information, visit www.BlueprintDeKalb.org. 

DeKalb Citizens Group Calls for Reforms

Kathie Gannon, September 11, 2014

In the wake of swirling charges of corruption, a group of engaged DeKalb citizens is bringing forth recommendations to reform DeKalb County government. The diverse group of neighborhood leaders has been working since February to draft the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb County. The Blueprint is a framework for reform – it addresses: procurement policies, ethics, inefficient operations and the stale political environment.   Today the Blueprints Leadership team called a public meeting and launched a website www.BlueprintsDeKalb.org

“The voices of citizens must be heard to change the direction of DeKalb County,” said Patricia Killingsworth, a member of the Blueprints Leadership Team. “We hope citizens from across DeKalb County – north, south, in cities or outside – will use this current crisis as an opportunity to press for meaningful reforms, and that our elected officials will engage and take their responsibility for promoting ethics and transparency in DeKalb County government seriously.”

“DeKalb needs comprehensive solutions that are as big as our problems,” said Gil Turman another member of the Blueprints Leadership Team. “Many levels of government must be involved and our business and private sector leaders must also press for change.”

 

www.BlueprintsDeKalb.org contains:

  • The original Blueprint showing the group’s principles
  • A progress report to the Operations Task Force
  • A survey to obtain feedback from the public
  • Draft position papers written by citizens

 

The position papers include recommendations to ensure more accountability, transparency and efficiency. Among the recommendations are:

  • An internal audit watchdog that reports to an independent body
  • Ethics reform, including removing Board of Ethics appointments from the CEO and Board of Commissioners
  • Greater transparency in purchasing, budgeting and operations to allow citizens to more carefully monitor County government
  • A straw poll to consider term limits and non-partisan elections

The Blueprints Leadership Team will review these reforms in a community meeting on September 30th at 6:30 PM in the Maloof Auditorium in Decatur. DeKalb citizens are urged to attend.

For more information contact BlueprintDekalb@gmail.com

Blueprints Leadership Team

Ted Daniel

DeKalb resident for 58 years; Community Council District 2   2003-Present (Chair); Leafmore Civic Association-Immediate Past President; Founding Member of Civic Association Network; Community Projects/Studies: Lavista Blueprints, Leafmore Infill Overlay District, Toco Hills Community Alliance, North Druid Hills Corridor Study, DeKalb Traffic Plan,   Zoning Code, Mason Mill Park Master Plan, Oak Groove Festival, Embrace Our Green Space Race

Jana Johnson

20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry Customer Service Supervisor. Owner and founder of an event management company; coordinating and organizing events as well as giving presentations, facilitating workshops, seminars and meetings. Graduate of Leadership DeKalb; Currently on the Board of Directors for I CARE, a non-profit that provides transportation for seniors to their medical appointments, Pride Rings in Stone Mountain (PRISM), the DeKalb County Planning Commission and the DeKalb County Juvenile Court Citizen Review Panel. Past member of the DeKalb County District 4 Community Council. Currently pursuing her Masters in Biblical Counseling.

Robert Glover

Worked for a major telecommunication company for over 30 years leading project teams in developing and implementing new products and services. DeKalb resident for over 25 years. Serves on the DeKalb Board of Equalization hearing real and personal property appeal cases. BoE Chair or Vice Chair for 7 of the 15 years on the board. Served as Vice Chair of Operations for the SCORE (Service Core of Retired Executives) Downtown Atlanta office. Guided entrepreneurs and business owners how to enhance their business, develop a business plan, and how to secure a Small Business Administration (SBA) Loan. Acquired a Paralegal Certificate in 2008 from Kennesaw State University worked part time for a law firm. Presently serving as a Trustee and Financial Secretary for his church preparing financial reports in accordance with GAAP (General Acceptance Accounting Principles) for Non-profits.

Patricia Killingsworth

Attorney and former Chief Judge of the State Board of Workers` Compensation, Member DeKalb County Board of Ethics 1998-2008 and Chair from 2002-2004, Graduate of Leadership DeKalb. Served on the boards of directors of Leadership DeKalb, Youth Leadership DeKalb, Atlanta Young Singers of Callanwolde, and the governance council of Chamblee Charter High School.  A recipient of the Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service, presented by the Georgia Bar Association. Adjunct professor at Georgia State College of Law. Currently serving on the board of directors of Citizens of Victoria Estates. Resident of DeKalb County for the past 30 years.

Beth Nathan

Electronics and information science professional; small business owner; retired. Past state president League of Women Voters; legislative lobbying; legislative aide; past citizen adjunct Georgia Information Technology Policy Council; member DeKalb Future Funding Commission which established priorities for the 2006 Bond Referendum; member DeKalb Parks Bond Greenspace Advisory Committee, member Recreation, Parks  and Cultural Affairs Citizens Advisory Board; past president North Briarcliff Civic Assn; Chair, Friends of Mary Scott Nature Park; leadership team member Civic Association Network; election pollworker for 10 years.

Brenda Pace

State License Navigator for the Affordable Health Care Act. Former Branch Manager/Officer of Bank South,  Assistant Project Manager for Wegman & Associates and Community Outreach for DeKalb County’s Office Of Neighborhood Empowerment. Active in the community for 25 years in the South DeKalb area. Founding board member in 2002 of East Lake Terrace Association & President for 5 years until December, 2013; Past Member of Georgia Sustainable Community Alliance; Assisted with providing guidance that led to the complete re-write of the Code Enforcement Regulations; Serves on the following committees/boards: Habitat of America for DeKalb, Co-Chaired – The Mapp Foundation/Board of Health and currently on the DeKalb Advisory Committee on Code Enforcement.

Martha Pacini

30 years executive in communications, marketing, community, public affairs and civic engagement programs, most recently with Silverman Construction Program Management. Board member for CHRIS Kids, founding member of the Citizens of Victoria Estates, serves on Clifton Community Partnership and the Civic Association Network.  Member of the Leadership DeKalb class of 2015. Business affiliate of the Council of the Great City Schools, an organization comprised of the 60 largest urban school systems in the country.

Calvin Sims

Served as legislative representative for the Amalgamated Transit Union AFL-CIO (MARTA) from 1980-2009. 39 years of community service in DeKalb County, beginning as president of the Gresham Park Community Association in 1975. Founder and board chair of the Chapman’s Mill/Redan Park Community Development Corporation. Recipient of the Community Champion Award for 30 years of community service in DeKalb, and presented a proclamation from DeKalb County Government. Recipient of the DeKalb NAACP Charles C. Albert Award for his work in economic development. Earned an MPA with major research on “The Fiscal Affects of Metropolitan Fragmentation”.

Gil Turman

Retired Area Director and Principal of three DeKalb County High Schools; 35 year resident of DeKalb; Founder, and current president of South DeKalb Neighborhood Coalition; successfully sued to forced the closure of the Live Oak Landfill, an environmental and health hazard; reconstituted an inactive homeowners association; provided guidance that led to the complete re-write of the Code Enforcement Regulations; chairman of DeKalb Advisory Committee on Code Enforcement; coached on the first all-black high school football team to win a state championship.

Dan Wright

Licensed PE serving as the lead design manager with MARTA on a number of projects; current member of the Board of Zoning Appeals, Past President of the Friends of Kittredge Park which has been instrumental in the redevelopment and expansion of the park through volunteer in-kind work, fundraising and interaction with County contractors; additional community work involves serving as a Condo Association Board Member, participation in the development of an LCI Plan and Tax Allocation District for North Druid Hills

CDC Environmental Impact Statement Final

By Martha Pacini, September 6, 2004

The CDC has published its final environmental impact statement, and the preferred alternative remains adding a 350,000-450,000 square foot laboratory, a 1600-car parking deck (which results in a net addition of 1200 spaces), a major renovation to an existing building on the campus and a variety of infrastructure improvements (new chilled water plant, detention pond modifications, etc.).  Our comments are included in Appendix B, page 189.  I have downloaded a copy of the report and appendices from the website.  Below are the links they sent. We should continue to advocate for a transportation solution that will take some cars off of Houston Mill Road.

Statement:

Volume I Final EIS CDC Roybal Campus 2025 Master Plan 2

Volume 2 Appendix

Mason Mill Joins Nextdoor.com

Mason Mill has joined Nextdoor.com and creating its own virtual neighborhood. This is replacing their current Google community. Other communications to their neighborhood will continue to be distributed via email. Several conversations have already occurred between members of our two communities concerning cityhood and road issues.

Global Health Action Property – 1902 Clairmont Rd.

A pre-submittal community meeting was held to discuss the proposed acquisition and intended use of the property located at 1902 Clairmont Road Decatur, GA 30033.

The intended use would be for a Goddard Preschool. Goddard is a private preschool. Goddard would continue to abide by the zoning dictate regarding “no right turns onto McConnell when exiting the property” – so that all entering and exiting traffic to Global Health/Goddard School will continue to be accessed off of Clairmont Road.

One of Goddard’s characteristics is NO rolling drop off of students. Goddard requires that each parent walk their child into class every day. There is no pre-set start or end time of classes, so long lines of cars waiting for kids do not occur at the building.
Friends of Thomson Park

The Friends of Thomson Park group is gearing up for the next year of restoration and revitalization work in the park. Tentative autumn work dates are October 11, November 15, and either December 6 or 13th for 9am – 12noon. The park has come a long way over the past several years, thanks to regular volunteer efforts from neighbors and other park lovers.

Lavista/Houston Mill Road Intersection

The county has eliminated the dedicated right turn lane off Houston Mill onto LaVista – it is no longer dedicated or protected. If you are turning right from Houston Mill, beware that there is no longer a safe lane to turn right into. COVE and MMCA will be reaching out to appropriate authorities to determine if this is the final design for the intersection, and if so, advocate for a safer option.

Conversation with a Cop, Monday, September 29, 2014

Briarcliff United Methodist Church
4150 Briarcliff Road
6:30pm

In order to better serve and protect citizens, DeKalb County Police Department North Central Precinct is conducting ongoing Community Conversations with residents of the county. We invite all who live, work, and play in DeKalb to attend. Meet and greet, questions and answers with Precinct

Command Staff.

September discussion topic Sexual Assault
For more information call or email:
DKPD, North Central Precinct
1960 W. Exchange Place
Al Fowler, PES…770‐724‐7616
alfowler@dekalbcountyga.gov

Sunday Voting Approved, Early Voting Starts Oct 13

The DeKalb County Board of Registration & Elections has approved early voting locations in DeKalb County for the upcoming General and Special Elections.

Nearby in-person early voting for the Nov. 4 election is available at:

Central DeKalb: Voter Registration & Elections Office
Two Areas — One Exclusively for Senior and Disabled Voters
4380 Memorial Drive, Decatur, GA
Monday through Friday, October 13 – 31, 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Saturday, October 25, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Sunday, October 26, 12:00 Noon to 5:00 PM

Decatur
Clark Harrison Building
330 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue, Decatur, GA
Monday through Friday, October 27 – 31, 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM

Voters who do not take advantage of Early Voting must go to their polling places on Tuesday, Nov. 4 to cast their ballots. All early and absentee voting will end on Friday, Oct. 31.

If you have yet to register, you can do so by clicking here. The deadline is Monday, October 6.

To find your polling place and see your sample ballot, go to My Voter Page at www.sos.state.ga.us. Applications and other information may be obtained at the website www.dekalbvotes.com or by calling the Voter Registration & Elections office at 404-298-4020.

DeKalb House Delegation Pre-Session Town Hall Meetings, Oct 13, Oct 21, Oct 28 – 7pm

These are public meetings for you to air any concerns you would like to bring to the attention of the State Representatives and Senators who represent parts of DeKalb County.

  • October 13th (7-9 pm) at Brookhaven City Hall (4362 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven, GA 30319)
  • October 21st (7-9 PM) at the Maloof Auditorium (1300 Commerce Dr (Trinity Pl), Decatur, GA 3003)
  • October 28th (7-9 PM) at the Porter Sanford Center (3181 Rainbow Dr. Decatur, GA 30034)