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Ellis: Cityhood, Annexations Harm County Government

"A fractured county will not lift us out of the economic recession," DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis said Tuesday.

DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis said this week recent and ongoing cityhood movements and annexations harm county services, and the state legislature needs to grant the county more oversight over these issues.

Continued withdrawls of land from unincorporated DeKalb County into existing or new municipalities also threaten to slow the county's economic recovery, Ellis said Tuesday before a group of county businessmen Tuesday in his 2013 State of the County speech.

The speech was given at the Thalia N. Carlos Hellenic Community Center off Clairmont Road.

Here is the text of Ellis' thoughts specifically on those two issues:

During the past two years, DeKalb County has been forced to take a defensive posture at the Georgia General Assembly. Efforts to incorporate or annex prime real estate have severely hurt our bottom line. A fractured county will not lift us out of the economic recession.

In actuality, it might place us deeper in it.

This is the struggle of a great community!

I say this not harboring any ill will to our city leaders or anti-city sentiment. In fact, my relationship with the mayors in DeKalb County is based on mutual respect, friendship, and a desire to serve our respective constituents as best as we can.

But, unique state law on this issue has allowed revenue shifting from the County to city governments, and that hurts us all, whether we live in incorporated or unincorporated portions of the County.

We have now reached a “tipping point” where continued annexation will hamper the ability of the county to adequately fund essential services – from courts and criminal justice, to libraries and elections – that all of our citizens depend upon.

The Board of Commissioners and I have asked our delegation to amend the state code to require approval by the county for annexation of areas that currently receive county services. We also want their support of legislation providing property owners new rights to weigh in on matters pertaining to annexation.

We believe these steps will protect the interests of all our citizens and allow for greater dialogue between DeKalb County and its cities to develop a strategy that emphasizes collaboration instead of confrontation.

All local governments – cities and counties - face the same challenges of trying to balance our budgets while providing our constituents the frontline services they depend on. I see no reason why we cannot find a solution together.

This is the struggle of a great community!

The North Druid Hills-Briarcliff area has been the subject of increased cityhood chatter. Here is some of our coverage of that:

  • Are We Even Organized to Be a City?
  • Levitas Avoids Press Question Regarding Cityhood Position
  • Leaders Offer Conflicting Views at Second Cityhood Forum
  • Most Residents at Meeting Unsure About Cityhood

The city of Decatur is also considering annexing a significant portion of commercial property in North Decatur.

  • New Decatur Mayor Doesn't See Annexation in City's Future
  • Decatur Commission OK's Annexation
  • Neighborhood Groups Start Anti-Annex Petitions
  • Decatur Manager: City Can Annex Without Referendum'

What do you think of Ellis' comments? Tell us in the comments section below.

Sally February 01, 2013 at 01:18 PM
Ellis and his ilk have damaged Dekalb County. Guess what, when you abuse the power granted you by the voters, you lose it. That's the way our government works.
Don Broussard February 01, 2013 at 04:47 PM
Allowing DeKalb government to approve new cities is like asking King George III to approve independence for the American colonies. I would argue that a single county government run by people who are indifferent and often incompetent — and who are under criminal investigation — will not lift us out of our problems. By the way, we are not in a recession and have not been for quite a while. The CEO confuse DeKalb's declining property tax revenues and foreclosure problems with a recession. The creation of new cities does not erode county funds for the court system as no new city has created independent courts. All continue to use and fund the state and superior courts. Ellis' statement here is an outright distortion. Ellis, who is a real estate lawyer by profession, sees this part of the county as an ATM machine for county government -- which might explain why so many illegal permits are issued and code requirements go unenforced on new development. This has been a 20 year pattern under the CEO form of government. Development administration needs to be removed from CEO control. A county manager is no solution either. Only a new city with locally elected accountable officials will immediately remedy the situation.
H.A. Hurley February 02, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Although, creating new cities does not move us away from Dekalb County Schools, but it should. Charter School will spring up like daisies in the near future. DCS is the pits and sucking the life and $$ out of DC. People running it have no clue, don't care but line their own pockets through nepotism, shell games, lying and claiming total ignorance. They are smart enough to steal from us all and get away with it. Move away or create your own planet.

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