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Cityhood & Annexation Options and Their Effects on Taxes and Schools

Dear Druid Hills Resident,

The Druid Hills Civic Association Bylaws state among their objectives:

  • To maintain liaison with governing bodies so as to influence decision making and remain alert to actions that are of concern to the community,
  • To inform and educate the citizens about cogent community problems, and
  • To promote the general welfare of the community, to preserve and enhance the historical heritage of Druid Hills, and to maintain its unique residential character for future generations.

Pursuant to this mandate, the 2014-2015 DHCA Board of Directors will soon undertake a CITIZENS SURVEY to help our community reach a general consensus on the position Druid Hills may adopt as DeKalb County trends toward municipalization. The creation of new DeKalb cities, proposals for additional new cities, and the prospect of annexations by existing cities all necessitate this survey.

In anticipation of the survey, please review the information below. It will provide important context for your decision about annexation and cityhood. Many residents have expressed concerns about three major factors. These are: (1) property taxes, (2) the public schools that serve geographic areas within the DHCA’s stated boundaries (specifically Fernbank Elementary, Briar Vista Elementary, and Druid Hills High School), and (3) Emory University’s position.

  1. TAXES
    1. It is impossible to know precisely what your tax bill will look like in the event that Druid Hills joins a new city, but leaders of the cityhood movements have stated that they will be able to provide the same level of services without a property tax increase. These services are: Planning, Parks, Police, and Public Works (including roads).
    2. If Druid Hills chooses to stay in unincorporated DeKalb County, your tax bill will – at least initially – resemble your 2014 tax bill. However, uncertainty about HOST property tax credits and the formation of more new cities in DeKalb County make it impossible to predict what adjustments might be forthcoming in order to continue to pay for mandatory county services.
    3. If Druid Hills chooses to annex to the City of Atlanta, the difference in taxes may be less than you would expect. The City of Atlanta has been rolling back millage rates. Please review the tax comparison chart and caveats in Exhibit A (at the end of this letter). Sewer / water will remain in DeKalb County no matter which option Druid Hills pursues.
    Our neighborhood schools are a primary driver of property values and community life. Preserving the integrity of the public schools is essential in any choice we make.

    1. If our area remains part of unincorporated DeKalb County OR becomes part of a new city, the central administration, governance and management structures, and attendance zones for our public schools will not change. Becoming part of a new city such as Briarcliff/Lakeside will have no impact on the schools; they will remain part of the DeKalb County School District. You may be aware that the Druid Hills Charter Cluster refiled its petition with the DeKalb Board of Education almost five months ago. Since then, Superintendent Michael Thurmond has recommended that it be denied and the Board has not acted on it. However, the DeKalb County School District will soon apply to the state to become a charter system. The district proposes school governance and cluster advisory councils. The latter would have advisory status but not autonomy regarding budget and personnel. You may view the proposal here:
    2. If our area were to be annexed into an existing city, there would be significant changes surrounding our schools. Because the DHCA recognizes the critical role our public schools play in our community and wishes to protect the integrity of the schools serving any part of the DHCA’s boundaries, you will see that Exhibit B, “Proposed Atlanta Annexation Area,” is drawn to include the full attendance zones of Fernbank Elementary and Briar Vista Elementary. Please also note that contained with this proposed annexation area is Druid Hills High School.*
      1. Under Georgia law, if an unincorporated area is annexed into a city with an independent school system, the students and schools within the annexed area become part of the independent school system. In this case, that would be the Atlanta Public Schools (APS).
      2. The annexation area probably lacks a middle school. If Fernbank or Briar Vista are within an annexation area, the students may remain in those schools through the middle school years and then move to Druid Hills High School.
      3. Should our area opt for Atlanta annexation, it is reasonable to expect that parents and community members who were supportive of the Druid Hills Charter Cluster will seek similar autonomous governance and management structure for our public schools. You should note that APS has approved the first charter cluster in the state and the first true autonomously governed conversion charter at Centennial Place Elementary (now a K-8 school).
      4. Annexation could increase per pupil funding and teachers’ salaries in our schools. Per pupil expenditures by APS in previous years have been approximately $15,000 per student. DeKalb spends approximately $10,000 per student. (See National Center for Education Statistics, “Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts, Fiscal Year 2011.”)

    Most of you realize that Emory University occupies a large portion of the northern part of Druid Hills. Emory officials have stated: “Currently the University is monitoring various jurisdictional proposals. We are hopeful that the evaluation process will be transparent and fair, so that we and our neighbor can weigh the best alternatives.” The map of DHCA boundaries (Exhibit C) at the end of this letter delineates Emory’s campus within our neighborhood.

Please understand that what has been conveyed here in no way precludes the pursuit of annexation or cityhood by communities not technically within the DHCA boundaries. Proposals such as the potential annexation map simply reflect possible solutions for our neighborhoods and schools in light of intensifying initiatives toward municipalization in DeKalb County.

You will receive the survey during the next few weeks. In the meantime, please watch for announcements about information sessions to be held at our area schools. Visit our website at  and review documents in the “Cityhood & Annexation” section. New information on such topics as senior exemptions and historic preservation will be posted soon. Talk to your neighbors and organize gatherings to clarify issues that are important to them. Contact us with your questions. The results of the survey will help us determine the future of Druid Hills – not just for your lifetime, but for generations to come.


Druid Hills Civic Association
2014 Survey Committee

Exhibit A: City of Atlanta / DeKalb County 2014 Tax Comparison

The DeKalb County Tax Commissioner has reviewed this spreadsheet for accuracy.

Fair Market Appraised Value Uninc DeK DeK Schools Total Uninc DeKalb Atl City Atl Schools DeK Base Total Atl in DeK Property Tax Differences
$200,000 $713 $1,619 $2,331 $661 $1,090 $401 $2,152 $(179)
$300,000 $1,110 $2,578 $3,688 $1,161 $1,960 $620 $3,741 $53
$400,000 $1,508 $3,537 $5,045 $1,662 $2,829 $840 $5,331 $286
$500,000 $1,906 $4,496 $6,402 $2,162 $3,699 $1,059 $6,920 $518
$600,000 $2,303 $5,455 $7,759 $2,662 $4,568 $1,278 $8,508 $750
$800,000 $3,099 $7,374 $10,472 $3,662 $6,308 $1,717 $11,687 $1,215
$1,000,000 $3,894 $9,292 $13,186 $4,663 $8,047 $2,156 $14,866 $1,680

Assumptions and caveats:
2014 millage rates apply.
Includes HOST Tax Credits. Basic Homestead Exemption only; not valid for other exemptions or freezes.
Assumes Atlanta Public Schools taxes will apply for annexed areas.
Local government property tax comparison only.
Water and Sewer fees are billed separately. City of Atlanta states that DeKalb rates will remain in effect for any annexed area.
Sanitation Fees: $265, DeKalb; $586, Atlanta.
Atlanta does not have DeKalb’s fees for street lights ($25), speed humps ($25), and storm water ($48).

Exhibit B: Proposed Atlanta Annexation Area*

Proposed Atlanta Annexation map

Exhibit C: Druid Hills Civic Association Boundaries

DHCA Boundaries

*Revised on 10/16/2014.

  1. Ed Williams #

    We as residents are being held with a gun barrel pointed at our head. The tactic is fear. We are being told that we will have to pay more taxes than the others in the county if we do not form a city. I say take the issue to court.

    What are the options in south DeKalb? Create a city, create multiple small cities, or maintain the status quo. The new south DeKalb city as proposed by the Concerned Citizens for Cityhood in South DeKalb would be smaller in land size than the city of Atlanta, and would include approximately 300,000 residents. The city would be approximately 90% African American. It would be largest in DeKalb by far, and it would be the second largest city in the State of Georgia.

    The largest city in DeKalb is Dunwoody and Brookhaven which has 46,000 and 49,000 residents, Both Brookhaven and Dunwoody already had significant economic development in their communities prior to their becoming cities in their own right.
    I do believe that south DeKalb could exist as a city or cities, but it will not be as the CCCSD portray it. The annexation laws should be made stricter, alternative forms of quasi-governmental communities should be considered, private residential associations communities and special districts could also be alternatives to cityhood.

    The CCCSD main rational is economic development, avoiding higher taxes and protecting assets. How is the CCCSD defining economic development, is it tax reduction? How will it achieve the economic development that it is portraying in their vision? The elephant in the room that some people want to ignore is that business investments tend not to be significant in areas that have a population of color over 65 percent. New municipalities can impact taxes, school districts, land-use, growth control, environmental regulations, elected representation and public utility services. New municipalities can lead to fragmentation and competition for financial resources between local governments.

    The process of forming cities should require a petition before an organization or person can represent themselves as speaking for the community or in the name of the citizens.
    There are a lot of unanswered questions that citizens in South DeKalb do not know about in terms of the form of government the new proposed city will have. What kind of mayor or city manager will this new proposed city have? Will the city council be strong? What kind ethnics review will be in the charter?
    There should be a way for citizens in South DeKalb opt out of the new city if it does not want to be a part of the shot gun city.

    I think the citizens of DeKalb would be better served if the CCCSD would file a court case against the county and the other cities in regards to the tax liabilities and pension obligations that are not being shared by all the property owners of the county. How can a new city such as the city of Dunwoody or Brookhaven not be equally responsible for pension and bonds that were already obligated prior to their cityhood make no sense.

    It would be equally appropriate if our political leaders in DeKalb ask the State Legislators to amend the annexations and consolidation laws to prohibit hostile takeovers, without the consent of the governed. Some states have laws that require the cities to make up for the lose revenue of the county.

    It seems that shotgun cities are appearing all over the DeKalb County. Who will pay the county bills once all the local communities become cities? I would suggest that the state Legislature stop this cityhood movement in the county. The county needs leadership on this issue. The citizens should not remain silent on this issue.

    Ed Williams lives in Decatur

  2. William P. Hilmes #

    Friends, January 3, 2015

    We do not have all the facts to make a good decision on cityhood for Druid Hills. I suggest we slow this process down and look at all the unanswered questions that we still have. Please look at comments below that I posted to the Creative Loafing website. If we need cityhood in Druid Hills we can still do it next year, but let’s look at all the facts first.

    Friends, I have lived in Druid Hills for the last 39 years. I have liked being in unincorporated DeKalb County because the property taxes are lower. None of the parties to this discussion has extensively looked at the property tax implication of Druid Hill becoming part of the city of Atlanta. I request that State Representative Mary Margaret Oliver and other elected officials looking at the cityhood issue do a detailed analysis of the property tax changes if Druid Hills becomes part of the city of Atlanta and publish the results of this study before a vote is taken! Those who have supported becoming part of Atlanta has said there would be no tax increase. They were unable to tell me why all the debt and all infrastructure issues of the water system would not raise my taxes. I was told by a city of Atlanta supporter at a meeting that taxes was not relevant point! If you feel this way, you have a lot more money than I do. I can tell you from previous experience that another level of government that controls the use of your property will result in more regulations and higher taxes! Do not allow the threat of what might happen in other cityhood issues force you to make a quick bad decision that could be impossible to reverse. This cityhood issue needs to be studied in much greater detail at so many levels before a decision is make. A few of areas that need to be reviewed before a decision is made are: schools, additional liabilities of the city of Atlanta assumed by Druid Hills residents, property taxes, will the level of service change? what additional regulations will be added to your property utilization? PLEASE, WE NEED TO STEP BACK FROM THIS RUSH TO ANNEXATION WITH THE CITY OF ATLANTA AND LOOK AT ALL THE FACTS BEFORE A VOTE IS TAKEN! LETS WAIT ANOTHER YEAR AND LOOK AT ALL THE FACTS BEFORE WE VOTE!

    • John Frost Murlin #

      Please also consider the sales tax, in addition to the property tax. If you buy a new car, regardless of where you purchase it, you also have to pay an extra one percent to Atlanta for it’s dilapidated sewer system. For a Tesla this would represent $1,000 or more extra! The fact is we would not use this sewer system. We would still use the DeKalb Sewer and Water but be forced to pay an extra 1 percent for a car to take car of a dilapidated sewer system we would never use. This also goes for the retail outlets. I avoid purchasing anything in Atlanta and do my shopping in unincorporated DeKalb at 7% and Gwinnett at 6% (example Fry’s and Micro Center).

      John Frost Murlin
      1404 Emory Road

  3. michelle #

    I’m sorry if I’ve missed something along the way, but do we feel certain (or confident?) that DeKalb County School Board would agree to release Druid Hills HS and the two elementary schools to City of Atlanta, should annexation occur?

    • claudiajkeenan #

      No commitment would go forward without such certainty.

    • cmcarthur #

      I’m very curious about this as well. This website references Georgia law here, but I have searched the Georgia Code and find no such language regarding schools. It is very clear in the Code that county owned property that is used by the non-annexed citizens (e.g. Fernbank Science Center and Druid Hills High School) are to remain county property. The City of Decatur is skeptical of the interpretation that city school systems could acquire Dekalb County School Property (see Decaturish, 11/13/14) and is one reason they are hesitant to annex the Medlock area as they could not acquire the needed school facilities. The Georgia State Code seems pretty clear on the issue of county owned property. O.C.G.A. 36-36-7 states, “ownership and control of county owned public properties and facilities are not diminished or otherwise affected by annexation of the area in which the county owned public property or facility is located.” If Atlanta did aquire DHHS, what would they do with all the excess capacity? Only 2 of the 5 feeder school attendance zones would be annexed. That leaves a lot of empty seats. They already have excess capacity in their existing schools. It would only make sense to close DHHS and distribute Druid Hills children to Grady and Maynard Jackson.

  4. Bubba #

    Please provide a DeKalb vs. Atlanta tax comparison similar to what has already been posted, but with the assumption that the homeowner is over 65.

    • Davis #

      Bubba, please see

      I believe 70 years-old is most relevant age. Qualifying for exemptions at 65 in DeKalb is difficult.


      Bubba, The regular tax comparison table applies whether you are 45 or 65. The break comes at age 70 and have limited earned income.

      • Dan Buckley #

        Dekalb County has senior exemptions starting at age 65. One qualifies for the exemption from paying school tax based on income, but one is able to exclude social security and some pension income. This information can be found on the Dekalb County Tax Office website.

      • Davis #


        For seniors over 65 with Georgia Net Income below $15,000, DeKalb Board of Ed allows for a $16,500 exemption from property values (normally $12,500) and DeKalb County exempts $14,000 (normally $10,000. Social Security and most retirement income up to $31,700 is not counted. Atlanta’s exempts $40,000 for calculating city taxes and $55,000 for calculating school taxes for people with Georgia Net Income below $25,000.

        If you just look at people aged 65-69, Atlanta may have a better tax exemptions if you can income qualify. However, at 70 years old, DeKalb has better exemptions because they wipe away school taxes for persons with household income below $82,708.

    • Dan Buckley #

      Go to the website for Dekalb County Tax Commissioner…FAQ…Information concerning property…scroll way down to 65 years of age or older. You’ll find three exemption levels: H-4, H-6 and H-8. For example with H-4, a couple with less than $10,000 income, excluding up to $63,408 social security and retirement income, can be exempt from paying ANY Dekalb County school taxes. Please do your own research, but I know many people who qualify for the H-4 exemption, and they will be devastated financially if they are forced to pay City of Atlanta school taxes.

      • Davis #

        Dan, You are correct that at age 65 a senior in unincorporated DeKalb can be exempt from school property taxes, however the Georgia Net Income must be under $10,000 for the household. Even though social security and most retirement income is excluded, that is a little harder to qualify for than exemption and people are increasingly working later in their lives. H9 begins at 70 years old and has a household income of $82,700. it also provides a 100% school exemption.

  5. anna #

    It is my understanding that an annexation by the City of Atlanta would eliminate DeKalb County schools such as DeKalb School of the Arts, Kittridge and Chamblee as options for students living in our current district. I know this is not a large population of our neighborhood’s student body, but it is an important issue that I hope will not be overlooked.

  6. Jhn Frost Murlin #

    Mrs. Wallace, if Decatur will not absorb Druid Hills, then Mary Margaret Oliver should not give the City of Decatur the intersection of North Decatur and Clairmont – it should be left to help support us in unincorperated DeKalb.
    I have witnessed the nightmares of the Ciy of Atlanta first hand and think that everyone should know the truth about that city.


    John Frost Murlin

    • mlw #

      I agree. There is no evidence to support that unincorporated Druid HIlls will be better off with the City of Atlanta. In fact, the reverse seems likely. I, for one, will vote no to annexation to the City of Atlanta. Decatur and Briarcliff are not options so the remaining option, for the now, is to stay as we are.

      • claudiajkeenan #

        I urge you to consider the future of DeKalb County as more cities form and erode the tax base. The state of the DeKalb County Schools – and the Charter Cluster’s decision to withdraw its petition — alone constitutes an argument for leaving DeKalb.


      Mr. Murlin, You should always feel free to communicate with Mary Margaret Oliver about your concerns as a DeKalb citizen.

      • John Frost Murlin #

        Mrs. Wallace,

        I did communicate these concerns to Mary Margaret Oliver. I think the best place for our community would be Briarcliff (better use of tax revenue) and second Decatur (schools). For reasons I pointed out, Atlanta is a horrible choice. Schools should be a key consideration and Atlanta has some of the worst in the state and has had them since about 1970. Once you join Atlanta, you can never escape.

        John Frost Murlin
        1404 Emory Road

      • John Frost Murlin #

        Mrs. Wallace,

        I would like to add that Druid Hills was part of the City of Briarcliff as proposed by Mary Margaret Oliver. In order to satisfy Decatur, Rep. Oliver would throw a bone to Decatur by awarding the NE adjoining side of Decatur (Suburban Plaza and DeKalb General Hospital) and the NW corner (Clairmont and North Decatur) to the city of Decatur. These two areas were originally in Briarcliff. Decatur had previously not been interested in these two areas because of school board opposition; however, when it was known that Decatur would be blocked forever from further expansion on the north, they changed their tune.

        Emory University, a private school, threw a wrench in the works by stating that they did not want to be part of Lakeside/Briarcliff because of their obsession with being an “Atlanta” school. As I have pointed out, they have never been an Atlanta school – only their mailing address has been Atlanta.

        If Emory somehow blocks Druid Hills from joining Briarcliff, I believe that Clairmont and North Decatur should stay with Druid Hills to help as as a small bit of leverage to either joining the new DeKalb City called Briarcliff/Lakeside (but soon to be renamed) or perhaps joining Decatur.


        John Frost Murlin
        1404 Emory Road

    • Right, John Frost Murlin!

  7. John Frost Murlin #


    I am strongly against any annexation of Druid Hills by Atlanta for the following reasons:
    1. The Atlanta Public School System is pathetic, worse than what we already have.
    2. The higher property tax and sales tax is unjustified.
    3. Corruption and reverse racism

    I am strongly against any annexation of Druid Hills by Atlanta. While Briarcliff is my first choice for reasons that I have laid out in my letter last winter that is posted to the Briarcliff link, Atlanta would be a terrible option. If Braircliff falls through because of Emory University’s resistance (Emory has an obsession with wanting to be known as an “Atlanta” school), Decatur would be my next choice. Since Emory moved from Oxford to Druid Hills about 100 years ago, the main campus of Emory has never been in the city of Atlanta, it has only had an Atlanta mailing address because the mail was delivered out of Atlanta rather than Decatur. Emory’s Clairmont Campus, has a Decatur address; however, Emory has decided to forgo the name Decatur and use Atlanta which is legal. If the mail had been delivered out of Decatur since the inception of Druid Hills, this probably would no be an issue for Emory today.
    If Decatur annexed Druid Hills, it would be perhaps all of the Fernbank Elementary School district plus a small part of the Briar Vista School District running along mainly the south side of Peachtree Creek. This would give Decatur both Fernbank Elementary School and Druid Hills High School. Druid Hills could be also used as a middle school and help alleviate the over crowding in Decatur. The reason the schools are getting more students in Decatur is because of the reputation of the schools. Druid Hills would be a more sought after location – having the great schools and also close CDC, the VA, and Emory. Folks if you pay slightly more to Decatur in taxes, it comes with a great schools. Atlanta would charge more in taxes and you would get worse school and no local control. Druid Hills would be a drop in the bucket to the current massive City of Atlanta. You voice would not be heard and if it were it would not be listened to by the City of Atlanta School Board.
    Lets look at Druid Hills High School. Druid Hills has recently had some of its more affluent students removed to Lakeside High. Druid Hills High lost part of Sagamore Hills Elementary School and replaced with the terrible Avondale Elementary School as part of the Druid Hills “cluster”. This cluster not only includes Avondale, but also McClendon, another bottom of the barrel school. Neither Lakeside nor the City of Decatur have feeder schools like these. All of Decatur’s elementary schools are on par with Fernbank.
    Atlanta would offer high taxes, no local control, and a downgrade downgrade in education. I do not believe Atlanta when they said they would leave everything “as is” for the time being at Druid Hills High School. Their flagship school, Grady offers metal detectors and police at every door in the morning! Decatur is a much better option with great schools.
    I believe that the Atlanta Public Schools would eventually bus low level students in now from that part of the City of Atlanta inside DeKalb which is south of Decatur and Druid Hills. This area includes Memorial Drive and East Atlanta. These students are currently going to Grady High. Druid Hills High, which already suffers because of the terrible Avondale and McClendon Elementary schools would get more bottom of the barrel students from East Atlanta and would be at the mercy of the Atlanta Public Schools. I do not need to go into repeating the allegations of cheating and reverse racism. For many of the people in Druid Hills, their children go to a private school because of the behavioral – educational problems at the high school; however, the high school should be at the heart of the thinking. Atlanta Public Schools have been among the worst schools in the state since the 1970s. Remember Alonzo Crim, Beverly Hall, and that gang? Atlanta Public education is a downgrade from where we are now. Once you join Atlanta there is no going back – it is like falling into a pit from which you can not escape.
    If Druid Hills High became an Atlanta School, it would be a downgrade and may eventually have to draw from East Atlanta. Atlanta also offers the highest tax rates around. Talk about lack of local control. Decatur would bring better schools and local control to Druid Hills, Atlanta would not.
    Druid Hills would be forced to pay an extra 1 percent sales tax if shopping at Emory Village. Druid Hills is on the DeKalb County Sewer and Water system, yet be forced to pay for a sewer system that was never maintained properly under Atlanta mayors Jackson, Campbell and others.
    Atlanta has said we could keep everything “as is” with the DeKalb County School System for a while – I do not believe one word of what Atlanta says.
    Decatur actually cares about their schools and always have since 1903.
    With Briarcliff off the table, Decatur is the next strongest option because they have the best public schools in the area at all grade levels. This is an established fact. I agree with Mr. Patillio, former City of Decatur commissioner (see Mr. Patillio’s thoughtful letter), that Druid Hills should sell themselves to Decatur as an addition that would compliment the city rather than harm it. I do not think that the addition of Druid Hills into Decatur would topple Decatur’s applecart. I think both agree that the schools should be a top priority. The politics should not be a big issue and as of 2014, both Decatur and Druid Hills tend to vote liberal and I say that as a conservative. The small town flavor should not be an issue – most “small towns” in Georgia are geographically larger than Decaur’s current 4 square miles.
    Decatur wants the commercial land at North Decatur and Clairmont, Suburban, and DeKalb Medial Center but not neighborhoods to any extent. I believe that Druid Hills should go with the commercial land at North Decatur and Clairmont, which is really the “cross roads” of Decatur and Druid Hills. I don not believe that Mary Margaret Oliver should give Decatur the commercial area of North Decatur and Clairmont without taking Druid Hills.
    Decatur has already taken part of Druid Hills to the east of the north-south CSX “Seaboard” rail line this year. Parkwood is in this area. Those children started in Decatur Schools this year! From my understanding Durand Farm Subdivision, site of the old Durand Farm and South Westminster Way also wants inclusion into Decatur. Most of these communities are within walking distance of Fernbank Elementary. Fernbank is a great school; however, the concern in these areas may be Druid Hills Middle and High Schools which lack local control. Decatur High is viewed far better than Druid Hills High in these parts.
    Druid Hills would be forced to pay an extra 1 percent sales tax if shopping at Emory Village. Druid Hills is on the DeKalb County Sewer and Water system, yet be forced to pay for a sewer system that was never maintained properly under Atlanta mayors Jackson, Campbell and others.
    I think the city of Atlanta would be a nightmare for Druid Hills. I worked in Atlanta for 20 years and saw ongoing corruption in the police department where I had monthly safety meetings at a Fox Theater office with Major Woolard who eventually went to prison along with his wife. One of my employees saw a policeman take the cash from a drug dealer and then send the dealer on his way. I frequently did business at City Hall where there there was a high level of incompetence, reverse racism, and corruption. It was so bad with the corruption at Atlanta City Hall, that one year I had to hire an “intermediary” to get the permits! When I did a personal home improvement project in DeKalb, there was not this type of corruption nor the level of apparent reverse racism which I witnessed first hand in Atlanta.
    For several years, I worked at the intersection at Fifth and Peachtree Street and would see drug dealers line up on every corner 3ed, 5th, 7th, etc. every morning during rush hour and then they would return for the after noon drive home to do their drug business. The police would not do a thing about it. The best thing they would tell me is “we are going to set up some cameras”. Can you imagine drugs being sold at Clairmont and Ponce de Leon in Decatur – HECK NO! Decatur does not allow drug dealers and beggars in the streets like Atlanta does. You do not have that in Decatur. I know – I grew up in Decatur and graduated from DHS.

    Whatever happens, I will advise you to NOT JOIN Atlanta. The schools are are amongst the worst in the state, the extra tax is not justified, and the level of corruption and reverse racism is astounding. If Briarcliff is off the table, negotiations with Decatur should happen and the commercial land at North Decatur and Clairmont should not be awarded to Decatur without Druid Hills. Like I said earlier – Once you join Atlanta there is no going back – it is like falling into a pit from which you can not escape.


    John Frost Murlin
    1404 Emory Road

    • Anne Wallace #

      Mr. Murlin, We sat down with City of Decatur Mayor, City Manager, and City Council representative just a few weeks ago before we crafted our survey to confirm whether we should offer Decatur as an option for Druid Hills. The answer was an unequivocal “No”. City of Decatur has no desire to annex Druid Hills. It is not in their Strategic Plan; City of Decatur Schools don’t want it; their constituents don’t want it. Decatur is not an option for Druid Hills.

    • TLDR. Voting for Atlanta

  8. Ted Willi #

    Unincorporated DeKalb county is simplest and best. We don’t need the expense of forming a new city bureaucracy, or coming under the authority of Atlanta regulations/taxes, or becoming part of Decatur. If DeKalb is not measuring up in certain areas, address those problems with the county and work on solutions. We have had perfectly fine DeKalb services for many years, including trash pick-up, water/sewage, schools (including Fernbank, Shamrock, DHHS), and county police have enough of a presence as far as I’m concerned.

    Also, let Scottdale stay Scottdale. It has a history and shouldn’t be usurped into some new entity.

    We have the best of both worlds already — the minimal layer of bureaucracy (unincorporated DeKalb County) and an Atlanta address (so people can find us on the map along with New York, Los Angeles, etc.). City of Briarcliff? What a joke.

    Thanks to the Druid Hills Civic Association in helping with this conversation.

  9. frank m castellow #

    Absolute no to Druid Hills cityhood idea

  10. Please look for signs in the neighborhood regarding the upcoming survey about annexation and cityhood. You will receive a postcard in the mail with instructions. Be sure to participate in this important survey.

  11. Warren #

    The only charter cluster in APS is the KIPP Charter Cluster comprised of already existing KIPP schools (not a conversion of traditional schools). The cluster gives KIPP students the opportunity to enroll in KIPP middle schools before the public. APS uses the term “cluster” to refer to it’s k-12 alignment of traditional schools within the 4 regions. Also, don’t forget about the high water/sewer rates in Atlanta. $122 per month for 5,000 gallons in Atlanta and $72 in Dekalb. That’s $600 a year more for water/sewer alone.

    • Warren #

      I did just see on your website that Atlanta ‘said’ it will keep the annexed portion of Dekalb at the same Dekalb water/sewer rate.

      • Anne Wallace #

        Warren, We have an opinion from City of Atlanta law department based on their research into the law on this matter.

  12. Information on exemptions is posted on this page: Scroll down until you see it.

  13. Ryan Graham #

    Maureen and Andy,
    COA in Dekalb does offer School Tax discounts to seniors. This blog will not allow me to post links to share this info with you, but if you search the Dekalb County property tax website, there are Senior Homestead Exemptions covering school bonds for both the county and the city.

  14. Donna #

    DHCA shares Fernbank Elementary with a nearby neighborhood, Clairmont Heights (CHCA), and parents there are heavily involved in the school including PTA leadership. A recent CHCA survey showed strong support for annexation into an existing city, e.g. Atlanta. I am happy to see the neighborhood included in the proposed annexation area and I hope that both neighborhood associations can work together as one as we move forward.

  15. Beryl #

    You can check tax bills on DeKalb in City of Atlanta property v. unicorporated DeKalb County property. Visit and click on property appraisal on right-hand side, then select real estate data to left and enter address for properties you know to be in DeKalb-Atlanta. For a small rental property I own at 141 Candler Road just inside the City of Atlanta, the DeKalb County tax portion is $123 and the City of Atlanta tax portion is $1,381. The City of Atlanta portion is huge. Make your own comparisons.
    On school tax exemption for seniors, Decatur has exemption from school taxes at age 70. DeKalb at 65.

    • Davis #

      Rental property is not eligible for Homestead exemptions, or HOST credits. Rental property always pays much more in taxes regardless of jurisdiction. You can’t compare those taxes to what you pay for your home.

  16. maureen walsh #

    All seniors would apparently lose their exemptions but that is not stated because it would be against the prevailing political winds.

  17. Andy #

    What about HOST in the City of Atlanta. And although the HOST is variable check your bill to see how much of a discount you’re currently receiving and of course the higher the value of your house the more you receive.

  18. Andy #

    The school tax exemption in DeKalb County is 65 years, what is it in Atlanta? And what would it be in any of the other proposed cities?


    • maureen walsh #

      Atlanta has no exemption for seniors for school taxes.

  19. Andy #

    You have left our one tax matter that could effect lots of seniors living in
    Druid Hills

    • Martha Dowis #

      I agree. I’m 67 and I would lose the senior exemption from school taxes. Annexation to Atlanta would require me to sell my house. M. Dowis

    • Dan Buckley #

      I also agree. I spoke with a supervisor at the Dekalb County Property Tax Office, and she said the City of Atlanta would not honor senior citizen exemptions from Dekalb and that we would be required to pay City of Atlanta School taxes.

      • claudiajkeenan #

        The DHCA continues to research all of the ramifications of different options. We have posted what we know for certain, not wishing to depend on telephone conversations with clerks in various government offices. Our information has been reviewed by the DeKalb County Tax Assessor. Please continue to check in for updates.


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