DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis said this week the county has reached a point where incorporations could harm essential county services.by Jonathan Cribbs for North Druid Hills / Briarcliff Patch
DeKalb County has reached a “tipping point” where continued incorporations of unincorporated county land could harm the county’s ability to fund essential services such as courts, elections and libraries, county CEO Burrell Ellis said this week. – services all county residents use regardless of whether they live in a city.
Ellis’ remarks were released in a statement to Patch, but, speaking at a community meeting in Tucker on Tuesday, he also said he understands the desire for cityhood but that historically, new cities often encounter difficulties meeting their fiscal goals, and end up having to raise taxes just to meet basic needs.
“You’ll still be DeKalb citizens,” he said, emphasizing that new cities cannot isolate themselves from their counties.
Proponents of cityhood in the Lakeside area have said they believe they can improve police services and local representation by erecting a city government closer to its residents. District 2 Commissioner Jeff Rader, who represents part of the area that would be incorporated under several proposed maps from various cityhood groups, said he believes he’s been responsive to constituents.
“You can’t speak in general, but I am not running across constients who feel that our office hasn’t been responsive to them,” he said. “I don’t know that you’re always gong to get what you want from another government.”
Super District 7 Commissioner Stan Watson said he would like to see a meeting between residents and elected representatives of northern and southern DeKalb County to hash out issues that have lead to serious cityhood discussions in the Lakeside High School area.
“The citizens don’t talk to each other,” Watson said. “We have to get rid of the barriers that separate and find the commonalities that bring us closer together.”
He said he supports the idea of cityhood but hasn’t appreciated the legislature’s efforts to squash a city of DeKalb that would incorporate all remaining unincorporated county land from north to south.
“I’m for cityhood but allow all the citizens to vote on cityhood,” he said. “But just don’t give it to a respectful few.”
But the county government doesn’t have much control over what happens in the Lakeside area. If the legislature approves a cityhood bill for that area next year, it will go to a vote before residents of that proposed cit as early as fall 2014.
“If we don’t control the legislature, there’s nothing we can do,” he said.