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City or County?

The DHCA board has not adopted a formal position on the options faced by Druid Hills residents of unincorporated DeKalb County. However, the board has voted to call for a referendum on annexation into the City of Atlanta. The DHCA urges neighborhood residents to stay informed about the issues and – if they develop a preferred option – to become politically engaged (i.e., communicate with their state representatives and participate in advocacy organizations). Neighbors with questions or concerns may contact the DHCA officers. We also encourage posts to the comment boxes. For media inquiries, please contact

City of Atlanta Annexation

DeKalb County


Final Survey Report: Druid Hills Survey Final Report

The DHCA Survey Committee sent the following letter to Druid Hills residents on October 14, 2014. It provides important information about taxes, schools, and services within the three options that the neighborhood faces.

DHCA President Justin Critz sent the following letter to Druid Hills residents on August 8, 2014. It refers to the cityhood issue as the most profound issue that the neighborhood has faced since the Presidential Parkway in the 1980s.

Comparison of Three Governance Options for Druid Hills Residents

A comparison of the governance, taxes, schools and services for City of Atlanta, unincorporated DeKalb and a new city option.

Comparison of Options

Tax Exemptions

Comparison of Senior Exemptions in DeKalb County & City of Atlanta: Senior Exemptions Comparison

Senior Tax Exemption Analysis: Senior Tax Exemption Comparison

City of Atlanta Exemptions: Atlanta Exemptions

DeKalb County Exemptions: DeKalb County Homestead Information

Source: DeKalb County website, “Tax Commissioner” section. See “Frequently asked Questions” / “Other Local Exemptions” / City of Atlanta. For DeKalb County, see “Exemptions.”

City of Atlanta / DeKalb County 2014 Tax Comparison

The DeKalb County Tax Commissioner has reviewed this spreadsheet for accuracy. For more information on the spreadsheet below, please click Atl DeKalb Spreadsheet Notes.

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).

Media Coverage & Political Commentary

School district promises fight against annexation proposal | AJC

Together In Atlanta responds to correct errors in Superintendent Michael Thurmond’s presentation, Annexation: Student Enrollment and Tax Implications.

DeKalb Schools on Druid Hills annexation: ‘Innocent students will suffer’ |

Annexing Druid Hills into Atlanta: A cherished DeKalb school community will be lost |

Teachers must work 24 years on average to earn $75,000. It’s faster in APS. |

At Issue: Is it time for DeKalb to abandon the CEO form of government? | AJC

As the region is carved into cities, Atlanta is offered a rare chance to grow | AJC

Atlanta council weighs in on annexation possibilities | AJC

Atlanta Eyes Annexing CDC, Emory University Areas | Decatur-Avondale Estates, GA Patch.

Annexation, new cities page added to Database |

City of Atlanta to pursue annexation of Emory University, CDC |

Residents Near Emory Gain Momentum In Effort To Join City Of Atlanta | WABE


66 Comments Post a comment
  1. It seems that it is easier to create a city than to remove a corrupt elected official from office.

    Say No to Shot Gun Cities in DeKalb. We are being held with a gun barrel pointed at our heads. We are being told that we will pay more taxes than the others in the county if we do not form a city. We are being lead to believe that more government is better.

    What cityhood will likely bring is more government with rules and regulations, lower property values, more crime, more corruption, more traffic tickets, more code enforcement, less businesses, and bad customer service.

    We do not believe that a city will create jobs that is the mission of the chamber of commerce, and private citizens. We do not want to trade our suburban communities for an urban jungle; We do not want more crime, corruption, and government. We want better leadership and collaboration all over North, Central and South DeKalb.

    South DeKalb could look like Clayton County, Miami Gardens, Tuskegee, Alabama, East Saint Louis, Liberty City, Gary Indiana, Detroit, Washington, DC, or Ferguson, Missouri if the cityhood bill is passed by the state assembly and the referendum is passed by the voters. Ask the proponents of cityhood which city they plan to use as a model for South DeKalb or Stonecrest. I do not mean what the feasibility study used. I mean which city proponents believe South DeKalb will look like with similar demographics and population.

    Do Not Believe the Hype!!! Unincorporated DeKalb is not paying more for Bonds and Pensions than others in DeKalb County. It is not true and the facts are being stretched to create fear. The proponents of cityhood are simply not explaining the differences in the services and how the pension is funded. Ask for specifics so that you can make an informed decision. Do the proponents have any evidence or record to show what they can do? The proponents for cityhood have not described what assets they want to protect.

    Alternatives have not been presented to residents in the affected area. For example, smaller cities, opting out of the city, change the annexation laws, court action. Alternative forms of quasi-governmental communities should be considered, private residential associations or communities and special districts could also be alternatives to cityhood.
    Annexation is being used as a scare tactic. Annexation is not a simple process. The community or property owner has to agree to be annexed. Property cannot just be taken or seized.

    All Talk. There is no historical evidence that forming a city will provide significant private investment in a community which lacks demographic diversity. The proponents are mixing economic development with cityhood, these are two separate issues. Cityhood does not create economic development. What have they done for us lately? Where is the beef? Show us what you can do before we give you the keys to a city

    Ed Williams, Chair
    Citizens Against CItyhood in DeKalb

  2. Marshall Lichtenstein #

    Name: Marshall Lichtenstein
    Comment: Your Nov. 17 preliminary report on annexation survey said a fuller report would be posted soon. Has one? If so, kindly transmit to me.

    I know and like State Rep. Pat Gardner but she lives in and represents Morningside and had no business sponsoring HB 586, the Atlanta annexation referendum bill. If you cannot even get a State Rep who represents any part of Druid Hills to sponsor a referendum then that should be the end of it. The DHCA is entitled to its support of a referendum but from the wording of the Survey and its “thumb on the butcher’s scale” it is easy to see that its Board is tilting towards annexation by Atlanta. Without a vote of the membership, it should not have even endorsed a call for a referendum on annexation into Atlanta. Did HB 586 get passed by this recent session of the legislature? If not, I hope the DHCA Board will look again at its position and adopt one of total neutrality.

  3. We believe that the residents of DeKalb deserve a more deliberate process; and that the state legislature needs to make changes to the cityhood and annexation process.

    1. We should have some say so at the front end of the process, to rather communities are included in the new city boundaries.

    2. It would be equally appropriate for our state legislators to amend the annexations and consolidation laws to prohibit hostile takeovers without the consent of the governed.

    3. Some states have laws that require the cities to make up for the lost revenues of the county

    4. Alternatives have not been presented to residents in the affected area. For example, smaller cities, opting out of the city, change the annexation laws, court action. Alternative forms of quasi-xities should be considered, private residential associations or communities and special districts could also be alternatives to cityhood.

    More time should be given to residents to become informed in terms of the impact cityhood would have on their communities and DeKalb County. We do not believe that new cities should be created for the purpose of avoiding prior pension and bond obligations. We strongly believe that taxes should be equitably applied to all residents in both incorporated and unincorporated DeKalb. We do not believe that a city will create jobs, that is the mission of the chamber of commerce, and private citizens. We do not want to trade our suburban communities for an urban jungle; We do not want more crime, corruption, and government. We want better leadership and collaboration all over DeKalb North, Central and South.

  4. DeKalb Cityhood Annexation Gentrification Black Belt Self-Determination

    “Leaders must go beyond bringing white people back to the city to reverse white flight, because resegregation is not the answer. The answer is not black and white. Segregation of race and class kills a region’s economy. For instance, a study called “The Equality of Opportunity Project” found that areas with greater mobility tend to have five characteristics: less segregation, less income inequality, better schools, greater social capital, and more stable families.”

  5. Susan H. #

    Anne Wallace, you people are disgusting. At this point, I am eager for Elena Parent to include my neighborhood on the map so that we can all VOTE NO.

    • Susan H. #

      “Keep in mind we don’t want to be adding neighborhoods that have a lot of negative voters as they
      can “tank” the referendum. They can negotiate to stay off the new city map and petition for
      annexation later using the 60% method. Some of the neighborhoods simply want to stop us from
      taking DHHS and intend to launch campaigns to cause detriment to TIA.

      Anne H. Wallace”

      That would be my neighborhood. We are still not on the map (yet), but Elena Parent is working on it. McLendon Elementary district. I look forward to being added so I can help tank it.

  6. John Frost Murlin #

    Congratulations to LaVista Hills! Low taxes, accountable government, and home rule. In the next 3 years there will be a push for an independent school system in LaVista Hills. I would hope by the success of LaVista Hills that Druid Hills could be annexed in the not too distant future. Atlanta offers high property and sales taxes, corruption, and bottom of the barrel schools.

    John Frost Murlin
    1404 Emory Road

  7. Reasons why the new city of Greenhaven (South DeKalb) should not be created. Need more Details. Alternatives Missing from Discussion.


    1. The roof on fire fear tactic approach is not a good way to make public policy. At the very least, citizens should be given time to consider the options and evaluate what another layer government would mean for the region. The rationale that proponents use for the justification for a new city in south DeKalb to leverage resources, avoid pension and bond costs, avoid annexation and focus efforts on economic development are not the only factors to be considered when creating a new city. There are many other factors that residents should consider in order to evaluate rather forming a city would be a good idea.

    2. Alternatives have not been presented to residents in the affected area. For example, smaller cities, opting out of the city, change the annexation laws, court action. Alternative forms of quasi-governmental communities should be considered, private residential associations or communities and special districts could also be alternatives to cityhood. In addition, the impact on the County has not been evaluated and presented as to what would likely happen if all the unincorporated areas became cities. The objectives, goals, and benefits have not been explained in any detail that could be evaluated. The Citizens Against Cityhood in south DeKalb believe that we can leverage resources and assets at the County level, particularly since the majority of the County commissioners and interim CEO are from south DeKalb.

    3. Annexation is being used as a scare tactic. Annexation is not a simple process. The community or property owner has to agree to be annexed. Property cannot just be taken or seized.

    4. There is no historical evidence that forming a city will provide significant private investment in a community that has 65% or greater African American population.

    5. The latest two cities Dunwoody and Brookhaven taxes are expected to increase.

    6. The proposed new city of Greenhaven (south DeKalb) will only provide the following services initially parks and recreation, zoning, and code enforcement. The County will continue to provide Water, Sanitation, Police and Fire, Library, 911, Ambulance, Marta, Hospital, Court services, Road, and many others.

    7. The name of the new city Greenhaven should be changed. The reason given for the name is suspect. The name will not change the region’s image, and the name has no relevance to the historical legacy or the future of the region. The name lacks appeal, it sounds like a funeral home or cemetery name. Need information on how to change the name from Greenhaven.

    8. The creation of a new city will likely create the condition for the formation of a new school district. This would likely split the DeKalb school district along North and South boundaries. This will impact property taxes, and will likely cause property taxes to dramatically increase. Ninety percent of the students in the DeKalb School System are African American and less than 10% are White.

    9. The proposed new city of Greenhaven (south DeKalb) will likely create the need to generate more revenue through code enforcement and ordinance. This would likely result in increase citations from the county and the new city.

    10. The proposed new city of Greenhaven (south DeKalb) should probably be smaller and residents should consider the formation of more than one city if there is a real need. Instead of a mega city.

    11. The residents in the affected areas have not been made aware of the issues of cityhood and its impact on their community and the county. Many residents would likely want to remain living in unincorporated DeKalb.

    12. The rationale for the new city is not valid. A new city being created in another part of DeKalb County is not a valid reason for south DeKalb citizens to do the same. The demographics are different. The majority of the DeKalb commissioners are citizens from south DeKalb, including the interim CEO. Central and south DeKalb already control the county legislative and executive body of DeKalb government. South DeKalb already is in the position to set the agenda. South DeKalb has to elect the right leaders.

    13. Cities cannot create private jobs. A city can create a friendly business climate, if the right people are elected. The new jobs that the new proposed city would create will likely come at the expense of lost revenue from DeKalb County. The County would likely experience a work force reduction, as a consequence of the formation of new cities.

    14. The Carl Vinson Institute report was a feasibility study and it only evaluated the financial viability of the proposed new city. The report was based on minimum city services: Parks and recreation, zoning, and code enforcement. The report did not include and qualitative data or resident interviews. The study did not use similar city demographics to compare costs, and the report did not consider the impact of the new city impact on the DeKalb County as a government. The report does not validate the necessity or efficacy of forming a new city. The report did not consider the views of the residents of the affected area.

    15. There is no information on time table for adding other services like police to the proposed new city services. Need more information on the process to amend the charter to add other services, and how long will it take to amend the charter. .

    16. There is no information on how each of the communities within the boundary of the new proposed city will have to choose either to become part of the new city or opt out and remain unincorporated. It appears that the CCCSD has already included all the unincorporated communities in south DeKalb in its new city. Information is needed in regards to the referendum process and how and when each community will have the opportunity to vote rather to be part of the new city or opt out. The way the CCCSD has conducted the cityhood process and drawn up the map it assumes that all the communities and neighborhoods within the borders want to be in the new city.

    Ed Williams

    You can also visit us at

    Don’t Believe the Hype. The city of East Saint Louis is what South DeKalb “Greenhaven” could look like if the cityhood bill is passed for South DeKalb. Crime and corruption on steroids. Quality of Life and small town values will be lost if the cityhood is promoted in DeKalb. We are a suburb of Atlanta. We live here in unincorporated DeKalb because we do not want to be in an urban center.

    There are border issues with the proposed city of Greenhaven and the City of Lithonia, Stonecrest, Stone Mountain, and Decatur. In addition, there are several serious tax issues that should be resolved with DeKalb County as it relates to all these new cities attempting to avoid their tax obligations. Passing these cityhood bills will create greater issues with DeKalb County pensions and bonds accounts. The tax and funding inequity will ultimately in up in court, Particularly since many lawmakers appear to be ignoring their fiduciary responsibility with allowing the new cities to avoid the pension and bond payments to the county.

    The Carl Vinson Institute report was a feasibility study and it only evaluated the financial viability of the proposed new city. The report was based on minimum city services: Parks and recreation, zoning, and code enforcement. The report did not include and qualitative data or resident interviews. The study did not use similar city demographics to compare costs, and the report did not consider the impact of the new city impact on the DeKalb County as a government. The report does not validate the necessity or efficacy of forming a new city. The report did not consider the views of the residents of the affected area.

    The Communities and Neighborhoods did not have the opportunity to opt in or out of any of the boundaries of the proposed cities. We are being told that we only have the ability to say Yes or No at the end of process during the referendum. This does not make any sense. We should have some say so at the front end of the process, to rather communities are included in the new city boundaries. What if, where you lived, this was done to you? A group of people, that have not been elTected by anyone, drafts up a city proposal, creates a boundary map, and creates a charter and then ask the state to sanction it. You would be outraged, like I am.

    There are disputes over which neighborhoods should be included in the boundaries with Decatur, Lithonia and Stonecrest and other communities. There should be a timeout in order to keep this frenzy from becoming a nightmare for everyone.

    Hwang and Sampson, two researchers found that by the late 2000s, racial composition did in fact have a significant effect on a neighborhood’s chance of improvement and ultimate gentrification. The neighborhoods that saw the most improvement met a minimum threshold proportion of white residents—about 35 percent—and a maximum threshold of black residents—about 40 percent.

  9. Dianne Medlock Joy #

    One point that everyone needs to remember when it comes to the number of police in Atlanta compared to DeKalb is that Atlanta has the task of protecting one of the largest international airports in the U.S., 100s of 1000s of workers who come into the city each day to go to work or go to one if the universities and the 100s of 1000s of out-of-town visitors that visit Atlanta. DeKalb mainly has its residents to protect. DeKalb also has many municipal and independent police forces spread out around the county. It is quite a different situation.


      Just a few points about police and crime: Atlanta crime has dropped 20% over the past five years, and the city continues to increase its investment in crime-fighting resources. Also, the major universities stand up their own, independent police forces. While the city population does increase during work hours (as a result of commuters), that’s only Monday-Friday, 8 am – 5 pm, 45 hours per week. The remaining hours in the day plus the weekends are far greater at 123 hours per week. So basically, that’s only ¼ of the time.
      The latest estimate of annual visitors to the City of Atlanta is 42 million per year. That’s roughly 115k per day, so “hundreds of thousands” is a bit of stretch. Add that to the base population of ~450k, and it’s still less than DeKalb. Along those lines, let’s not forget that DeKalb experiences the same phenomenon, though not to the same extent, with commuters and annual travelers.

  10. John Frost Murlin #

    Concerning Decatur, I do not believe any of the expansion areas they want should be awarded to them. If you remember, Decatur did not want these areas 2 years ago because of opposition from the school board, When Briarcliff requested every thing between Decatur and I-85, Decatur then changed their mind because they would be forever hemmed in on the north,west, and east. As a part of mediation between Decatur and Briarcliff, Briarcliff gave Decatur the areas in question – North Decatur & Clairmont, Suburban, and DeKalb Medical. At that point last year, all the residents of Medlock and Druid Hills were covered by Briarcliff and had other commercial areas to financially support Briarcliff. These areas include Tocco Hills, Executive Park, and most of the Northlake area. Now Decatur wants the lucrative shopping areas without any regard to the residents of Medlock or Druid Hills who adjoin these area.

    LaVista Hills’ next plan after passage of their city is to form an independent school system. While dismissed by liberal politicians as not likely, I think it will happen as an outcry for smaller, accountable school systems like Decatur, which, as you know, is grandfathered in. My father, Jack Murlin, graduated from independent Druid Hills High School in 1941. Druid Hills was independent until after the war and helped form the DeKalb County School System.

    Atlanta is a hotbed of corruption, racism, and government waste. Their former mayor, Bill Campbell, went to prison. Beverly Hall, the former school superintendent, will go to prison if she survives cancer, Is this the type of big government you want to be a part of?


    John Frost Murlin
    1404 Emory Road

    • Bob #

      I believe we should take the same approach as Medlock and sit and wait to see what happens and let calmer heads prevail. People are rushing to support the Atlanta option while angry about the charter cluster and Clifton Ridge and nervous about other new cities taking the tax base. John, I think you have a much more realistic view of Atlanta and APS than the rosy picture TIA is presenting. And being part of Atlanta is permanent. You can’t undo that mistake. You also have to keep in mind that any new city must get through the legislature AND pass a vote of the people. It remains to be seen whether they pass either of those hurdles.

  11. Bob #

    DeKalb County Schools has prepared a report of the impact:

  12. Bob #

    The city of Decatur has a very different opinion on what happens to the schools in an annexed area. When talking to the Medlock neighborhood, they said the schools would still belong to the DeKalb County School System.

  13. Rex Hardaway #

    It might be worth while to seek clarification from all who responded on the city hood survey. If you ask me today if I favor the formation of a new city my answer is still no. If on the other hand were you ask me which city I would prefer, and told me me to assume with 100% certainty that I cannot remain in unincorporated Dekalb, I would preferred the new city (in Dekalb) option. That question was never presented.The resulting call for a referendum on annexation seems to stem entirely from the way the survey was worded.

    • What you are proposing is a new survey that takes the assumption that “unincorporated” doesn’t exist and forces the respondent to choose “Atlanta” or “La Vista”. I agree that such a survey would be nice and would likely put this argument to bed. But a new survey is not needed in this situation. If the interest levels for “new city” and “Atlanta” were closer on the survey, then I would totally agree with you. As it stands, the data from the original survey are compelling enough for me to conclude that “Atlanta” has beaten “Lavista”. The confirmatory experiment will be and should be a referendum. If you don’t want to join Atlanta, I wouldn’t be that worried at this point. That bar will be a very high bar to clear for annexation, as any strongly “pro-Lavista” constituents are likely to join voters who want to remain unincorporated.

  14. Anne Wallace #

    Thank you for furthering clarifying the results for everyone to understand.

  15. John Frost Murlin #

    I think it is interesting that Atlanta, which originally wanted just the Druid Hills-Emory area with little commercial land to speak of now wants the commercial areas of Tocco Hills and North Druid Hills and Briarcliff under the argument that it is the Briar Vista Elementary school district – there is little chance of this happening, in my opinion, as LaVista Hills has asked for this for the last 2 years. Now, Atlanta also wants North Decatur and Clairmont. This move by Atlanta to get these commercial areas is a joke. The legislature is a super majority for the conservative party and I do not think they would give this commercial area to an aspiring liberal gubernatorial candidate.

    It also appears now that Atlanta also wants to annex the Sandtown community in south Fulton to “offset” the influx of whites in the Dekalb areas in order to keep the balance of power – what political maneuvering.

    I think it appears that if Atlanta annexed Druid Hills, you would in addition to paying more property tax for a substandard Atlanta education, you would also pay a penny more is sales tax. If you bought a car for say $40,000, you would have to pay Atlanta an extra $400 to fix its dilapidated sewer system. If you purchase a Telsa that would be an extra $1,000 at least. Think of how much you pay in sales tax for groceries. If North Decatur and Clairmont became Atlanta, you would have to pay hundreds of extra dollars for Atlanta’s past malfeasance in respect to their crumbling sewer system.

    Do folks in Druid Hills who send their children to private school have any interest in supporting Atlanta with higher property taxes and sales taxes? No.

    Sandy Springs formed their own city so as to prevent an Atlanta expansion to the north. Buckhead tried to secede. Can you imagine Atlanta trying to annex a piece of Cobb? Heck no – the people would not have it! Atlanta is now hemmed in to the northeast by Brookhaven – they wanted no piece of Atlanta and neither does LaVista Hills. These areas want a smaller, accountable, thrifty, non racist, and non corrupt government which Atlanta offers.

    Sincerely, John Frost Murlin

  16. Anne Wallace #

    The referendum will come from the State Legislature. Everyone in the proposed area will be able to vote on whether to join the City of Atlanta or Not (which by default means remaining with unincorporated DeKalb County.) There is no new city option available to Druid Hills and, if you study the survey results, being part of a new city was NOT favored by our residents.

  17. MD #

    Referendum is coming from the CA, unless I’m missing something.

  18. Rex Hardaway #

    Who (or what) is requiring that we have a referendum? I see no compelling reason to do this. If the majority of our community supported the idea then I might agree but just the opposite seems to be the case.

  19. MD #

    Ok, there is a clear majority in favor of either staying AS IS (unincorporated ) or joining new city. No majority in favor of City of Atlanta, yet that has seemingly become the referendum? You MUST give residents the options of new Cityhood vs. unincorporated just as you give them the option of Atlanta Cityhood or not.

  20. Rex Hardaway #

    I agree that there seems to be a clear bias for joining with the City of Atlanta. I continue to support alternative options should we not be able to remain on our unincorporated Dekalb island.


    You must understand that you cannot combine results. i.e. Of 882 respondents, the unincorporated residents responded, only 2.19 on a scale of 5.0 would be comfortable with becoming part of a new city. Because that was less than half, we notified the new city initiatives that Druid Hills has no interest in becoming part of a new city. 3.10/3.16 on the other two options for unincorported residents is very close; hence, there will most likely be a referendum and everyone will have a vote between those two options.

  22. MD #

    Hi Anne, thank you. What I am concerned with is that it appears that 5/8ths of the respondents entitled to vote on the issue (as it only effects them) favored or strongly favored either a new city or staying in unicorporated Dekalb over becoming part ofi Atlanta. Here are the stats from the survey:

    Atlanta residents:
    3.57 – Annex Atlanta
    1.77 – new city
    3.21 – unicorporated DeKalb

    Unincorp. residents:
    3.10 -Annex Atlanta
    2.19 – new city
    3.16 – unicorporated DeKalb

    3.13 – Annex Atlanta
    2.16 – New City
    3.16 – unicorporated DeKalb

    Why are the vote of those who would be effected and either prefer be left “as is” or moved to a new city being disregarded when the minority who wants the city of Atlanta annexation being promoted?

    • Otis White #

      MD: I’m one of those who helped design the Druid Hills Survey, and you may be misreading the results. We did not ask those taking the survey to choose which option they liked. We asked them, instead, to express their feelings about each of three options: annexation to Atlanta, joining in the creation of a new city, and remaining in unincorporated DeKalb County.

      Two of the options were acceptable to the 882 respondents: annexation and remaining in unincorporated DeKalb. One, creating a new city, was not acceptable. (A score above 3.0 is in the “acceptable” range; a score below 3.0 is in the “unacceptable” range.)

      On the basis of this, I think the Druid Hills Civic Association Board was right in telling Briarcliff and Lakeside that there was little support in our neighborhood for a new city. I think it was also right in informing state legislators that there was support for a referendum about annexation into Atlanta.

      It’s important, though, to keep in mind that holding a referendum and passing one are two different things. Whether an annexation referendum passes will depend, I think, on two things: What the city of Atlanta/Atlanta Public Schools offer Druid Hills residents (and, conversely, what DeKalb County/DeKalb Public Schools offer); and the campaigns run by those supporting and opposing annexation.

      I’m hoping the referendum brings out the best in Druid Hills with both campaigns focusing on facts and the long-term best interest of the neighborhood. As one who hasn’t decided yet how I’ll vote, I know these are the things I’ll be looking for.

      Otis White


    MD: Not sure how you are doing your math, but here are a few answers to what we see in the survey results: Only 53 City of Atlanta residents responded (of 882 surveys completed) and their surveys were not used in the tabulations for the first 3 questions. Each of the first 3 questions were tabulated on a scale of 1-5 independently of each other. 52% strongly or somewhat agreed they would be comfortable with Atlanta Annexation. 46% strongly or somehwhat agreed they would be comfortable with staying in unincorporated DeKalb County. Because of just a 6 point spread in preference, DHCA felt our citizens deserve a referendum to decide their future. Hope that helps.

  24. MD #

    Sorry , I just jumped to another spot on the site and found the actual survey results. Leaving ASIDE survey votes from current City of Atlanta and current Decatur residents, of the survey respondents who currently live in unincorporated Dekalb, the results seem to be as follows:

    Annexation to City of Atlanta -3.10
    new Cityhood – 2.19
    Unincorporated – 3.16

    That means (unless I am missing something), the votes were 5/8 AGAINST joining the City of Atlanta, and 3/8 FOR by the citizens entitled to vote on the issue which will effect them. How does that lead the DHCA to call for a referendum? It seems pretty clear to me that there is no momentum for that.

    Kindly let me know if I am missing something here; otherwise, it feels to me like there is an agenda here to push a joinder with the City.

    • David #

      This is a survey. No votes have been taken in Druid Hills. Some people are pushing one way or another. But DHCA has made it very clear that they have not taken any position.

  25. MD #

    I posted a question previously and never saw an answer. In the breakdown of residents who currently reside in unicorporated Dekalb County, how many supported annexation? It is my understanding even those currently inside city limits’ votes were counted …which would of course not be correct as they have no right to vote in something that won’t effect them. Certainly it appears that they were included in receiving the survey, although I’m not sure why as, again, there will be no change in their status.

    I’d also like to report I find it very difficult to follow the stream of comments on this site. They seem to be in several places, rather than a single string. For example, I can’t find my own post asking this question from about 2 weeks ago.

    Finally, I see no need to jump to the city of Atlanta. It will always be there. Once in, there would of course be no way out. Having lived inside the City of Atlanta in DeKalb County previously(in the Johnson Estates area of Morningside), I have no desire to go back. When I moved to unincorporated Dekalb, my house size doubled, my taxes went down by 60% and my services (I.e. trash pick up) doubled. That was in 2000, by the way, so isn’t ancient history. And we all know people who regularly rule out areas of Druid Hills that are in incorporated Atlanta simply due to the taxes when looking for homes to purchase, or who have moved from incorporated to unincorporated for the same reason.

  26. druidhillsmom #

    Not all residents want this. It will disrupt the schools our children have attended for years. It will take away a significant portion of the more affluent neighborhoods from the middle school district leaving other children in the dust. Is that what we are about?? What’s best for our property values over what’s best for kid’s all around? Leaving Dekalb will just make the voice of those who want change even quieter–and those who don’t have the resources will be left hanging. Let’s face it, the majority of the volunteers for the middle school live in this area. What does that leave them with?? I think this annexation thing is one of the most selfish things I have ever hear of, and I live in the neighborhood south of Emory that will be annexed. Please, DON’T do this to others. Don’t upset what our children have been a part of their whole lives.

    • Rex Hardaway #

      I am happy to support the wishes of the residents with children on the schools issue, prefer the unincorporated Island of Dekalb, remain opposed to the annexation by the City of Atlanta, and see little need to become part of another government entity. My preference for the City of Decatur was (and always has been) based solely on the strengths of the school system.

  27. Rex Hardaway #

    Until this morning I had never heard of La Vista Hills and after I hearing about it wondered if the name suggested it was going to take in parts of Druid Hills or just those in the Toco Hill area. Remember that Emory’s opinion is of little concern since they have no vote in this fight. Only residential tax payers have the power to decide what happens. I remain against becoming part of the City of Atlanta and have made that known. If for some reason we cannot stay on our unincorporated island (my first choice) then for the possibility of passing along a better school system to those with children I would support annexation by the City of Decatur.

  28. John Frost Murlin #


    La Vista Hills has left out Druid Hills from the proposed new city due to the opposition from Emory University, a private school which has paid lobbyist and substantial amounts of money. You will notice that half of the Brair Vista school district is in City of La Vista Hills. I am surprised at the lack of support from Druid Hills for what is the best plan tax wise for central DeKalb. In my mind, the local control is also a key issue. LaVista Hills also has the long term goal of an independent Lakeside High.

    The next best option is Decatur. The argument that Decatur could not take in Druid Hills because of the crowded Decatur school system is not valid because they would gain Fernbank Elementary School and also Druid Hills High School. Druid Hills High would have an abundance of extra room.

    I do not believe that Decatur should be awarded North Decatur and Clairmont without taking in Druid Hills. Also, as a practical matter, Suburban Plaza and DeKalb General should not be given to Decatur without Medlock which is also not included on the La Vista Hills map.

    I have heard that the supporters of the City of Atlanta are the ones that were most upset by the charter cluster vote. These people have glossed what might happen under the school system of the City of Atlanta. They are not guaranteed in anyway where they students are going to come from or who will teach there. The is no upgrade in education.

    Kasim Reed may be attempting this in part to court white democrats for a gubernatorial run as well as to balance to the white Republicans in Buckhead.

    The higher property tax for Atlanta is not justified any any way. In addition, I do not like the idea of paying an extra penny to Atlanta in sales tax at Emory Village for their dilapidated sewer system which was never maintained going back to the 1970s. I would shop in Decatur or La Vista Hills to avoid this sales tax.

    Atlanta has a history of racism both in their schools and government, corruption in the schools and government, no local control, and wasting tax payer money. Do you remember when Buckhead tried to secede from Atlanta for these reasons? They could not do it. Once your in, you are locked in the trap.


    John Frost Murlin
    1404 Emory Road

  29. Nancy Buss #

    We need to take account also how any change affects other unincorporated areas of DeKalb County. People in this household are not interested in profiting at the expense of the rest of the county.

  30. Anne Wallace #

    This is strictly for Senior Citizens over 70 that are no longer working and have less than $82,000 in annual income. They are exempt from paying the schools portion of a DeKalb Property Tax bill. Very SPECIFIC age and income qualifications for this!!!

    • Rex Hardaway #

      Does the same exemption exist for Seniors who meet the same or similar criteria in the City of Atlanta?

  31. The comparison of property taxes for seniors between Dekalb and Atlanta ends with “An owner who qualifies for senior exemptions for a property valued at $500,000 will pay approximately $1,905 in property taxes in unincorporated DeKalb. The same property owner within the City of Atlanta will pay approximately $5,915 in property taxes. ” This is a huge difference and way out of line with all the other comparisons that show small differences. Is it accurate? Does it apply only to a very specific situation given differences in what qualifies for the senior exemption?

    Since Druid Hills currently has residents in both Dekalb and Atlanta, we have an opportunity to get a very good comparison of actual costs. If Atlanta becomes a real possibility, I hope DHCA will try to collect data from actual residents inside and outside Atlanta.

  32. Rex Hardaway #

    Well if that is the reason for affiliating with the City of Atlanta then why don’t we do the same, at lower cost, by “harnessing the civic power of the residents of Druid Hills” to “aid, cultivate, and evolve” the Dekalb County Public School System for the children who live in our neighborhood now. I don’t see why we need to become part of the City of Atlanta to exercise our civic responsibilities. My first preference is to stay on the “big island” in unincorporated Dekalb.

  33. Brandon #

    Harnessing the civic power of the residents of Druid Hills will aid, cultivate, and evolve the Atlanta Public School System for the future of Atlanta, and for our future neighbors of Druid Hills. Just as we are constantly trying to better our individual and family lives, so too should we reach out and better the lives of all those around us. It takes work, but I feel this community is up to the task.

  34. 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.

    • vigodsky #

      This is good, sound thinking. I just hope there are lot more like you living around me.


    Dear GZHampton, That is quite a post with a long list about forming a new city in the state of Georgia. Do you work in that field or have some experience in that area of government at the local or state level?

  36. gzhampton #

    Druid Hills should come its own City:

    Cities are distinct from counties, in that they are formed by charter and able to control their own laws and borders. They have 200 or more people in them.
    Cities can qualify by having at least 3 of the following:
    -Public safety or law enforcement
    -Storm water collection or disposal
    -Fire protection and fire safety
    -Electric or gas utility services
    -Road and street construction or maintenance -Code enforcement (building, housing, plumbing, electrical, and other) -Solid waste management -Planning and zoning -Water supply or distribution or both -Recreational facilities -Waste -water treatment -Library -Public safety or law enforcement

    County is a division of the State and its administrative authority stems from the state legislature.
    The County has to provide the following services for City and County people:
    -State Court
    -Health Services
    -Probate Court
    -Public Assistance and Family Services
    -Superior Court
    -Emergency/disaster management
    -Magistrate Court
    -Property tax appraisal
    -Juvenile Court
    -Tax appeals/board of equalization
    -Coroner or medical examiner
    -Tax commissioner
    -Superior Court Clerk
    -Elections and registration
    -Vital Records

    The County can provide other optional services who instance the following:

    -County law library
    -Cooperative Extension Service
    -Cable TV/cable franchising
    -Law enforcement: county police
    -Animal control
    -Law enforcement: dive team
    -Road and street lighting
    -Law enforcement: investigations
    -Law enforcement: drug task forces
    -911 Services
    -Fire protection
    -Public transportation
    -Senior services
    -Planning & zoning
    -Water supply
    -Water quality
    -Building inspections
    -Sewage collection and treatment
    -Economic development
    -Solid waste collection and treatment
    -Public housing
    -Erosion and sedimentation control
    -Ambulance/paramedic services
    -Stormwater management
    -Street & bridge maintenance and construction
    -Public hospitals / support for hospitals
    -Parks & Recreation

  37. A strong and independent-minded Druid Hills enjoys a broad sphere of influence in multiple local governments. I would hate to see us pidgeonhole ourselves. We should be expending the energy to improve our communities, not trying to reinvent them.

    • Eden,

      Thanks for these thoughts. Have you seen the Blueprint that Commissioner Kathy Gannon has shared for thoughts about how to improve local government in DeKalb County?

      DHCA welcomes your interest in this issue, and would be happy to include you in further discussion for identifying strategic ways forward for our neighborhood with regard to local governmance issues.

      Mike St. Louis

  38. From one of our DeKalb representatives today:

    From: Rep. Scott Holcomb [] On Behalf Of Rep. Scott Holcomb
    Sent: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 2:04 PM
    Subject: Time-sensitive: Cityhood update

    To my constituents:

    I want to send this note to you because I have received considerable feedback (both positive and negative) regarding my message this morning. I attempted to make it clear that I am listening to you (and I am), but I may not have been as clear as I wanted. Please allow me to explain further.

    First, I do not serve on the Government Affairs Committee (“Committee”) but I will be attending the hearing and will provide an update as soon as they finish. They are meeting at 2:15 PM today in Room 606 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building.

    Second, my preference would be to vote in favor of referendums to allow voters to choose Lakeside and Tucker. These are the clear favorites of my constituents. To that end, my understanding is that these two groups have just reached a tentative agreement that would allow both cities to move forward to a referendum. If true, I would vote in support of allowing votes on both potential cities to proceed to a referendum. However, I must state, emphatically, that I have grave concern with this process. New cities should not be formed by a few people in a room without public input. The formation of a city (or cities) is a major event for our community, and the process should be inclusive, fair, and transparent.

    If the “deal” map is approved today by the Committee, it will be without any public input and the map will be viewed today for the first time. In fact, I just had my staff ask the Reapportionment Office for a copy of the map so I could publish it and I was told it is not available. I do not think that is right.

    That said, I also know that the majority of my constituents prefer an option for incorporation over the status quo. Consequently, despite my reservations about a fair process, I will support the “deal” if it is approved.

    Third, if there is no deal and either the Lakeside or Tucker proposals are approved by the Committee, I will vote in favor of either measure should the legislation be presented to the House for a vote.

    For those who oppose cityhood, I hear you and I want to remind you that you will have an opportunity cast your ballots in favor of your position if a referendum on incorporation is held on May 20, 2014.

    I hope this clarifies my position.
    Copyright (C) 2013 Friends of Scott Holcomb All rights reserved.

    Paid for by Friends of Scott Holcomb
    Representative Scott Holcomb
    Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg. 511-E

    Atlanta, GA 30034

  39. It looks like the cityhood vote in the Georgia House or Representatives will take place tomorrow at 1:00pm:

    Governmental Affairs Committee
    When Wed Mar 12, 2014 1pm – 2pm (EDT)
    Where 606 CLOB
    Who Wicker, Abbey, Powell, Alan, Alice Rafferty, Morgan, Alisha, Fleming, Barry, Benjamin Hensen…


      Thanks for the heads up. It will be interesting!

  40. Assuming cityhood is out the barn, Briarcliff + Tucker = terminate Lakeside.

  41. Mike St. Louis, 1031 Oakdale Road #


    The cityhood process in northern DeKalb has heated up. What do YOU think about the approach we should take in Druid Hills?

    Mike St. Louis

  42. Rex Hardaway #

    Of the options being considered i.e. Atlanta City, a new Dekalb County City of some kind, or the City of Decatur, think Decatur provides the better option for all concerned. For those of us without school age children, paying lower taxes and doing nothing would be the least costly but setting aside those feelings I believe the City of Decatur school system would benefit the younger families in our the area.

  43. John Pattillo Ridley #

    As a former Decatur City Commissioner, I encourage all interested parties to sit down and reason together about Druid Hills joining the City of Decatur, We have the best public education system in the Atlanta metropolitan area of which we are rightfully proud. No other alternative for Druid Hills can match that – nor the quality of our police, fire, sanitation and recycling and recreation programs. I don’t know who at the City of Decatur told anyone that Druid Hills would not be welcome – but they are very very wrong. I have spoken with and to all the members of the Decatur City Commission and the City of Decatur School Board and not a single one of them have expressed any opposition to Druid Hills as a new part of the City of Decatur.

    Druid Hills would have virtually no influence by being a part of the City of Atlanta – but would be a major force and player as part of the City of Decatur. Joining Atlanta or another new city would not provide the charter school status that Decatur can provide. Druid Hills needs the City of Decatur – and the City of Decatur needs Druid Hills. This is a no brainer match . We have too much in common to miss this opportunity.

    John Pattillo Ridley
    205 Adams Street
    Decatur GA 30030
    Decatur City Commissioner 1998-2002
    3rd generation alum of Emory University

    • David #

      If Decatur City officials are truly interested in annexing Druid Hills, they need to say so publicly. Otherwise, the train is probably leaving the station.


      City of Decatur has not been responsive to phone calls placed to Mayor and City Manager has responded with negatives to the idea. If the City Commission and School Board are interested, DH has not heard about it.

    • John,

      Thanks for this comment and invitation, and sorry that we have not reached out to before. Is there some way that Decatur can take steps to initiate a dialogue?


  44. David #

    I’m impressed with the quality of the two City of Atlanta Annexation Presentation documents. Thanks to all who worked to provide basic facts baring on this important question. It looks to me like the HOST vote has crippled Dekalb County the way antitax legislation has crippled California and Oregon.

  45. Rex Hardaway #

    I might, if the question were posed to me, also say that my plans did not include an annexation or, in my case, an affiliation with a city. If, however, I was presented with a petition from Druid Hills citizens who wished to become part of the City of Decatur rather one of several other options I might be compelled to at least think about the possibility.

  46. Rex Hardaway #

    I can think of thousands of reasons (mostly monetary) and if ever given a choice, all things being equal, I could easily identify myself as being part of the City of Decatur. I do not identify with the City of Atlanta. For all of the right reasons I think becoming part of the City of Decatur would be a much better option for the citizens of Druid Hills. Better schools, brand, community, city center, and culture.

    • Justin Critz, President, Druid Hills Civic Association #

      I used to live in City of Decatur, and, believe me, I am a big fan of that community. However, when we reached out to officials there, we received the response that their plans did not include an annexation of Druid Hills. Moreover, if taxes are your primary concern, they are quite high in Decatur.
      I am not pushing any particular way here. I just want to know exactly what people’s main concerns are. If you are on the other side of Emory, I certainly understand why you would not identify immediately with Atlanta.

  47. Rex Hardaway #

    I do not, under any circumstances wish to become part of the City of Atlanta. I am not sure how best to advocate for other more appropriate solutions but will join forces in opposition to our annexation into Atlanta.

    • Justin Critz, President, Druid Hills Civic Association #

      Rex, I do not believe that a DeKalb advocacy group has formed. When and if it does, it may certainly use this site the same as the other advocacy groups.

      Can you give your reasons for so adamantly opposing Atlanta?


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. DHCA Board Resolution | Druid Hills Civic Association
  2. DeKalb Cityhood vs. Annexation; Information to Educate LLCC Residents | The Corridor
  3. Interesting Times in Druid Hills | Druid Hills Civic Association

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