State, County & Local Governments
Becky Evans, Chair
Vote! Presidential Election is Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 1
Elena Parent Town Hall Meeting, Wednesday, March 2
6:30 PM Fernbank Elementary School Cafeteria
157 Heaton Park Dr, Atlanta, GA 30307
Contact Your Legislators Concerning Transit Funding Bill
There is an opportunity in this year’s General Assembly to pass legislation (SB 330) that would give the local jurisdictions currently in the MARTA system (DeKalb, Fulton, Clayton & City of Atlanta) the ability to allocate a portion (up to ½ penny) of the 1 cent TSPLOST approved in last year’s session to fund transit projects, including the Clifton Corridor line. (The Clifton Corridor line would connect the Clifton Corridor area to the Lindbergh and Avondale MARTA stations, and has been in the planning process for many years.)
If approved first by the General Assembly and then by those local governments, the measure would be placed on a referendum in November of 2016 or 2017 for voters to decide.
We encourage you to contact your state legislators to express your views about this bill.
Together in Atlanta Statement
Launched in 2014, the Druid Hills-based organization, Together in Atlanta, worked toward annexation to the City of Atlanta. Ultimately the effort failed in the Georgia Assembly but the group continues to meet occasionally. On November 9, 2015, it released the following statement about the future of annexation:
Together in Atlanta congratulates the new City of Tucker on its success in formalizing incorporation of an area many citizens of DeKalb County already believed to be a city.
The apparent defeat of the LaVista Hills referendum now allows a large group of citizens in DeKalb County to focus on the revitalization and overhaul of DeKalb County Government. With the passage of an Ethics Reform referendum on November 3 and the appointment of the Audit Oversight Committee, we are hopeful that needed reform will happen.
Annexation of any large area will continue to be challenging until our state legislative delegations support a democratic process for self-determination. The only realistic method available for Atlanta annexation in the foreseeable future is by 60% Petition. After the 2015 legislative session ended without an Atlanta annexation bill, the Edmund Park area of Druid Hills (120 homes) filed a petition and went through the process in seven months. Edmund Park was annexed to City of Atlanta in 2015.
The absence of a senior exemption from school taxes in the City of Atlanta remains a deterrent to the desirability of that transition for senior citizens living in unincorporated DeKalb County. The exemption is worth thousands of dollars to residents over 70 with modest non-retirement income.
Recent legal decisions and positions adopted by cities have made it difficult to reduce disruption of school populations in the context of annexation. Local courts are considering the question of whether schools can continue to be run by the County School Board in an area annexing to a municipality with an independent school district. Until the question is settled, this unknown is a complication that might defeat annexation to City of Atlanta. (City of Atlanta v. Atlanta Independent School System, Civil Action No. 2015CV258510, is presently on appeal.)
Together in Atlanta looks forward to being active in the reform of DeKalb County Government. We intend to remain involved in the revision of antiquated laws and regulations that prevent citizens from having a strong voice in their choice of local government and elected officials. We will actively support qualified candidates and hold them accountable once elected.
Together in Atlanta will continue to explore all options that improve DeKalb County.
Hon. Patricia Killingsworth (BAY Mediation & Arbitration Services) introduced a bill in the Georgia General Assembly to amend current law regarding the DeKalb County Board of Ethics. The bill was passed in May and will go before the voters on November 3, 2015. Hon. Killingsworth is a member of Blueprint DeKalb (2014-present) and served on the DeKalb County Board of Ethics (2000-2009). She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-323-3720.
DeKalb voters have the opportunity to change the county’s ethics laws. The main points of the legislation are:
- Create an independent Board of Ethics that will NOT be appointed by the CEO and Board of Commissioners;
- All County employees, appointed officials, and contractors must comply with the new ethical standards;
- The Board of Ethics will hire an officer who will apprise all County officials and employees of the new standards. This officer will monitor a hotline and report alleged ethical violations to the Board of Ethics;
- The Board of Ethics will have the power to fine, reprimand, and refer for prosecution.
Link to HB 597: http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20152016/HB/597.