|DeKalb Co Government Restructuring Public Hearing
||[Aug. 16th, 2006|09:46 am]
Georgia Green Party
Last night, Aug 15, was the first of five scheduled town hall meetings to discuss reorganization/restructuring of government in DeKalb County. They are sponsored by a committee of state senators, who constitutionally have authority over the structure of our county's government. The next meeting will be in Dunwoody on Sept. 7 at a location yet to be decided. For a rainy Tuesday there was the most senators and elected officials that I've ever seen assembled but under the gold dome or when something free is being given away, as well as many other elected officials and citizens.
Presentations from professors from the Carl Vinson Institute, GIT, and UGA and attorneys offered background on how unique our current structure is.
Essentially, the type of changes being looked at include the incorporation of the county into a single city, eliminating the executive oversight of the Board of Comissioners by the CEO, creating more districts and the elimination of current super-districts, and giving additional powers to the Comissioners currently in the hands of the executive branch.
Consolidation into one county-wide city seems appealing at first glance as it would eliminate redundancy and increase efficiency, and increase revenues to the county in the form of franchise fees currently paid to utilities in unincorporated parts of the county. Upon closer scrutiny, it appears that it would create a larger centralized government, and essentially deprive citizens of many property rights, reduce abilities for neighborhoods to request annexation, and under the current structure, cede additional power to an already powerful CEO. Though numbers were touted that this could increase tax revenues to upwards of $30 million annually, this seems essentially a shell game, that if approved would be offset by utility rate increases, with remote payers bearing the largest burden of the shift.
Restructuring the relationship between the county executive and the board of commissioners has much appeal to me. The executive branch probably has too much power and many citizen complaints have focused on the denial of services unless they were politically appealing to the CEO, The commissioners currently have little power to implement decisions, instead they make suggestions and for more direct representation, their numbers should be increased.
Overall, the mood was cautious with everyone recommending more study of the impact and more citizen comments. The process has just begun and will be interesting to follow.