City Estimates Parkwood Annexation Would Have Financially Positive Impact For First 5 Years

The Parkwood Annexation Report is now available on the city of Decatur’s website.

All of the city associated revenue (taxes) to costs (police/fire, streetlights, sewer, etc) come out easily net positive for the city ($152k vs. $22k in Year 2).  However, the school system seems to be a bit of a different story.  Though the projection of revenue to the cost of students is net positive the first 5 years (shown below), it’s hard to ignore that the gap between the two shrinks from around $100k in Year 2 to just $27k in Year 5, as the number of students increases from 19 to 31 in the annexed area.

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Decaturish (who gets the hattip on this post) reports that the city commission is scheduled to vote on the Parkwood annexation in late April.

66 thoughts on “City Estimates Parkwood Annexation Would Have Financially Positive Impact For First 5 Years”

  1. CSD schools are the reason people want to be annexed. The estimate of 31 students seems low. Homeowners who don’t want to pay Decatur taxes will move out and families with school-aged kids will move into those houses. This is also what happens when empty nesters move out of Decatur or move to condos; those vacated houses fill up with kids.

    1. City Schools are not the only reason people desire annexation. While I only speak for one of the people, I do it with confidence.

        1. Why, thank you, Nelliebelle. Unincorporated, sort of Druid Hills, North Parkwood, to be precise. So I’m not sure exactly how I fit in to this discussion. Except as an observer of some sweeping generalizations.

          1. How’d I miss this earlier? Parker, you’re more “Decatur” than just about anybody I know, so…yeah, co-sign what Nellie said.

      1. I am going to nominate myself for a Hometown Hero award based on the fact that I have successfully gotten my child through the COD school system and stayed in Decatur for a full two years after that, willingly paying higher taxes that support a school system that my child is no longer a part of, and having no plans to sell my home any time in the near future, thus not further burdening the school system. You’re welcome, Decatur. 🙂

        1. It’s kind of unseemly to nominate yourself for something like that. At the least, it’s just very gauche. So, if you will kindly withdraw your nomination, I will go ahead and nominate you. In return, you will simply have to nominate me and Mrs. J_T, as we bought into C.O.D. without having kids, or any plans to do so, making us completely revenue positive from the get-go 🙂

  2. Do these projections include current school-age children there in private schools (if any)? Do they factor in the possibility that those children (if any) may (or may not) switch to CSD? Or are the estimates of growth based just on move-ins?

    1. How did they arrive at 31 children from 75 new homes? That might be consistent with the rest of Decatur, but it seems very low to me. I would think that at least 31 homes would have children, and most of those would have more than 1.

        1. Even if 25% was correct in 2010, it has likely increased in the past few years. Although not everyone moving out of CoD is child free, every one moving in has children who will attend CSD (at least on my street). But, even using 25%, you are probably looking at 40 to 50 kids, not 31. 75 homes x .25 = 18.75 x 2.5 (avg kids per household) = 46.875.

  3. 31 does seem low. And eyeballing the 5 year projection, does not look like 6+ is a big winner. Sometimes bigger is not better.

    1. Yes it does. An increase of only 12 children from year 2 to year 5 would require only a half dozen or so families to move in. I wouldn’t be surprised if that many moved in during the first 18 months.

      1. More like the 1st month. I expect a significant number of houses to be up for sale once annexation is announced. Increase in property value combined with increase in property taxes is quite the incentive for homeowners without school age children to sell.

        1. Totally agree. This house just went on market: [edited]

          It’s hard to believe anyone without school aged kids will buy this property with plans to send them to COD schools. The estimate of student number increase is very low.

          1. This is just my personal opinion, but I have seen several people posting links to houses relating to this story on this blog, and unless it’s the owner, I really don’t think it’s appropriate. The information is out there, if people need it, they can easily get it elsewhere.

            1. Not sure if it is owners, realtors or just average Joe’s posting links. But it seems to me in this thread that information on housing prices/homes for sale is relevant.

              1. What is the relevance? Do you mean that the city will take in higher tax revenues if it annexes an $800k home?

                1. The relevance is that we are discussing pros and cons of annexation. One of the pros that has been mentioned for current Parkwood residents is that they will receive a “windfall” in the form of an immediate increase in the value of their homes. Current CoD residents wonder what we gain from annexation.

                  1. The unproven “windfall” argument asserted by the “we already got ours” crowd really has nothing to do with the merits of annexation.

                    I will grant you that the price of houses would be relevant if you cared about somebody else receiving a “windfall”, but first you would need evidence that the $800k house will be worth more than $800k immediately upon annexation.

                    1. I agree the “windfall” argument is irrelevant and clouds what should be a very easy decision, imo. Our tax digest is over-weighted with single-family residential. The proposed annexation is entirely single-family residential. The vote should be no. That doesn’t preclude revisiting the issue in the future, perhaps after the expansion of school facilities.

                  2. Three things I am curious about (and for the record, I am a current COD resident):

                    (i) How much of a “windfall” do you think a house that is currently valued at $800K outside COD will receive if it were inside of the city? $800K certainly seems to be the top (or higher) than most large houses I see for sale in COD;

                    (ii) If this windfall truly exists (and I am not saying it doesn’t) why wouldn’t someone subject to benefit from it wait less than the one month it will be before the COD makes its decision and, thus, reap the benefits of the windfall? If the purported windfall is large enough to make people who currently live in the subject areas decide to cash out and move (which has been mentioned as a concern many times on this website), surely it would also be large enough to make a seller delay selling their house for a few weeks;

                    (iii) While I completely understand and think the concern for school overcrowding is a valid concern that needs to be addressed, and could even be a potential reason for blocking additional annexation, language such as “the parkwood homeowners will benefit but I don’t ‘get’ anything if it happens so we should block it” just doesn’t sit well with me.

                    1. I understand we are Berkeley / Mayberry, whatever, but I think it is a valid to ask: It is clear what the benefits/disadvantages are for those who are annexed. What is not clear at all is are there any advantages to current CoD residents? Other than a feel good from sharing of what we have with others, all I see are disadvantages.

                      As far as why would someone sell one month before a decision on annexation – it is possible prices have increased on speculation that annexation will be approved. And the risk is that if you wait and Parkwood is not annexed, prices drop.

                    2. I was not trying to say the city will benefit from annexing $800k home. Rather, wanted to show the city’s estimate for future number of childrens from annexing is low, as I’m sure at least handful of houses will be on the market for one reason or another after annexation. Then the family with kids will move in for the school system. (I’m not blaming them, we did and lot of family with kids do for the same reason.) It’s a fact lot of family is looking to buy a house within CSD district, so the house values natually goes up.

                    3. M1- In the case of the home that was posted, I would say this would probably be a net positive (since I’m operating on nothing more than speculation just like you.) If a homeowner has enough millionS in cash, income, assets, etc.., to buy an almost million dollar house, could you speculate why they’d choose public schools over some very close and excellent private schools that are in Atlanta? Even great public schools don’t come with the luxuries (both for students and parents) and connections of private schools. That’s not a knock on public schools, just the reality.

                      Btw, if you are a fan of posting people’s homes, where does that end?

                    4. Daydreamer, I’m not sure why it’s so bad for M1 to have posted the link for the Parkwood house for sale (which appears to have been taken down).

                      When you sell a house, it is pretty much public info to anyone with an Internet connection (or anyone who drives by). In addition, with Zillow, it doesn’t matter if your house is on the market or not. Ppl can check anytime when you bought your house – as well as for how much. That’s just the world in which we live today.

                    5. Daydreamer- I don’t think it is an automatic for folks with high income/assets to want to go the private school route. Some families are putting the thought of NOT having to go to private schools into their financial decision to buy (and expensive) house in Decatur CSD- i.e. instead of the $30,000/year for 2 kids going to private school, that would be $2,500/month to put towards mortgage/taxes. That can get families quite a bit more house, which they own at the end of the 12 years, and maybe the same return of college acceptance to UGA, Tech or other…

                    6. To be clear, I was not the person who posted the link to the house for sale.

                      As far as private v public school – we live in a CoD house at the upper end of CoD prices and our kids go to CoD schools. Have no interest in private schools, don’t really believe in them and we live in CoD in part because of good public schools. And don’t have an extra $60k per year x 12 years to send three kids to Paideia even if we wanted to.

                    7. So you don’t “believe in” private schools, another subject I guess. If all that’s going to be focused on is doom and gloom scenarios in this discussion, then I felt it was worth mentioning that not every family with kids are sending them to city schools, and not every family moving to Decatur has children, or have them in the works. Shocking, I know.

  4. This will make the school system, which is already overcrowded, be even more that way. For all of the reasons the posters before me said. What we need is to annex commercial, NOT residential (we need more residential like we need a hole in the head). We are already incredibly residential-heavy with regard to our school problem. This just takes the current situation and makes it worse.

    I remember from conversations on DecaturMetro, maybe two months ago, that. essentially, Parkwood doesn’t want to get “sucked into” a “Franken-city” like Lakeside, Briarcliff, etc. (this was stated by a Parkwood resident). While I understand that motivation, it still takes some nerve (in my opinion) to be a purely residential area asking to join a city that does NOT NEED more residential and that ALREADY doesn’t have room for the current students it has.

    (And from what I’ve read, Briarcliff and Lakeside do NOT want Druid Hills in their cities – for whatever reasons. Parkwood is in Druid Hills. Therefore, the argument “that we have to join Decatur to avoid a new city” is weakened that much more.)

    And this has nothing to do with the people or that particular neighborhood. I’m sure they are all lovely. We just can’t fit more kids in the Decatur school system at this point. The real issue will be in 3-5 years when all of younger kids, already in the system, hit middle school and high school. If there is no renovation or new construction, half of the students will need to be taught in trailers. This is based on information that the school system has and that has been publicly shared (at the joint school board/city commission back in August of last year, for example). Without any annexation or new development (such as the various proposed mid-rises and condos), we already have an overcrowding problem. WHY MAKE IT WORSE BY ANNEXING 76 MORE HOUSES? (Or whatever the exact number is.)

    1. Agree. The reasons Parkwood residents want to be part of Decatur are clear. How current Decatur residents benefit from annexing Parkwood is unclear at best.

  5. I complety agree. Would our city officials please listen to the superindendent and school administrators? Or, better yet, spend some time in a second grade classroom with 23 or 24 children with only a part-time para professional to help the teacher?
    At this rate, we will soon see trailers on the playing fields of our schools again. Renfroe administrators have told parents that there won’t be trailers there next year, but after that all bets are off.

  6. Didn’t CSD work hard to become a charter school system? And doesn’t that relieve the system of the state’s onerous limits on class size? Isn’t the simple solution to just put a few more kids in each class? Are y’all afraid your children won’t get the attention they need in a class with 28 students versus one with 25? Or is it the cost of building new facilities?

    1. You have obviously not taken my advice to spend time in a classroom with 23 or 24 second-graders and only 1 full-time teacher. If you had, you would run screaming at the thought of 28.

    2. Abner – I don’t really like or agree with your comment here, but I will commend you for having one of the finer names on this site. I applaud your creativity.

      1. Just out of curiosity, Warren, as you seem to be an economic / supply and demand kind of guy: Is there not an argument that, in letting classes grow a little larger than average or installing some trailers or any number of other things that will likely have limited to no impact on the quality of education but take the form of things affluent people tend to take issue with, that some percentage of said affluent people currently drawn to the city for its schools would become less so. In short, couldn’t we manage some portion of our overcrowding problem simply by refusing to bend over backwards to meet what may be excessive expectations? You know. Take the sheen off just a bit?

          1. I suppose it depends on how you slice it. The Parkwood neighbors are pushing for annexation. That’s a market force in action so you could say that approving annexation would be a response to market demand while denying it would be government interference to achieve some alternate outcome that’s contrary to market demand (in this case, reduced enrollment pressure).

            That’s not really something I was asking about, though, so I haven’t really thought about it. Warren?

            1. Annexation doesn’t and shouldn’t have anything to do with the market. It’s a legal action that governments can take if it’s in the best interests of its constituents, and neither taking or declining to take that action is “interfering with the market”–unless those seeking to be annexed were attempting to improperly or dishonestly influence the decision for the purpose of boosting their home values. That would be interfering with the market if the government went along with it.

              1. BrianC defines annexation as: action that governments can take if it’s in the best interests of its constituents.

                What seems to be the issue here is that Decatur doesn’t need Parkwood. It’s quite nice, but we already have plenty of nice homes in the city limits. Decatur residents don’t really gain anything from this annexation – I don’t think it’s in the best interest of the current Decatur residents. The Parkwood residents, however, have quite a bit to gain – this is most definitely in their best interest.

                It seems like for annexation to happen, it ought to be “win/win.” I’m not saying it’s “win/lose,” but it’s more like “win Parkwood/no real gain for the city.”

                1. “It seems like for annexation to happen, it ought to be “win/win.” I’m not saying it’s “win/lose,” but it’s more like “win Parkwood/no real gain for the city.””

                  Would this standard also apply to commercial property annexation?

            2. I understand what you’re saying Scott. I think that we might be best served to determine priorities, say like in a strategic plan, and try to stick to solving for the most pressing of those priorities. So if, by achieving some priorities, we ignored others at the bottom of the list and a portion of the sheen came off and we accomplished what you are saying, then fine. I don’t think you are going to get away with saying that we are intentionally making things “worse” in order to decrease demand. I know the schools went through the planning process a while back but I have no idea what the priorities are. I just hope they are clear and concise and not full of wishy washy jargon.

              So are small class sizes a priority? They should be. What about providing a shiny new building for each and every youngster to attend and for their parents to brag about and marvel over? Shouldn’t be a priority in my opinion. Can you have one without the other? Not sure.

              Dawg – I think trying to put annexation into a market forces conversation is sort of round hole/square peg. Not everything has to go through the prism of Ayn Rand.

              1. Again, the conversation about trailers, and how they won’t solve the enrollment surge, is not about aesthetics. We can install 20 trailers on the back field at Renfroe, but we would not be in compliance with state requirements for common area facilities such as the library, cafeteria, and gym, and we would forfeit massive amounts of state funding in that case.

                We have to build permanent facilities to deal with Renfroe. Period.

              2. Hey Warren, it’s not about “providing a shiny new building for each and every youngster to attend and for their parents to brag about and marvel over.” It’s not that we want “fancy new buildings.” (Well, I don’t.) We just want the kids to have a school room in which to be educated, and having half the school in trailers isn’t operationally feasible (just ask the educators). These kids have the right to be housed in a building. It doesn’t have to be a beautiful award-winning space. Less is often more.

                1. CH and TeeRuss – I understand what you are saying. And I don’t know state requirements. But my contention is that the kids will be fine if they have a good teacher and a small(ish) class. The class could be conducted in a lean-to and it won’t necessarily impact the learning outcomes. But if our community priority is to build new buildings, then build them. If we can accomplish our priorities without new buildings, don’t build them, they are expensive.

                  1. I just get frustrated every time this topic comes up because normally intelligent commenters completely ignore or dismiss the extreme regulatory environment that the schools operate within. Our school system receives a huge amount of funding from the state, and that funding requires compliance with facilities mandates.

                    This is not even to mention the fact that the two schools in question, DHS and Renfroe, are sited next to a railroad and grade crossing, which is driving some additional requirements in terms of “blast resistance”. And god only knows what the EPA or Jim Baskett’s tree mafia wish to impose on these properties.

                    Thinking outside the box and spitballing creative ideas are all great in theory, but totally unpractical in this case.

                    1. “Jim Baskett’s tree mafia” . . .
                      I thought “Thinking outside the box and spitballing creative ideas” was the reason we are all here. Otherwise, we’d actually be at the school board meeting.

              3. Let’s be real, Warren – nothing ACTUALLY fits through the prism of Ayn Rand.

        1. I’m a little late to the conversation here, but I have one data point on this from experience.
          MY kid was the first class to go through F.Ave, and although her 5th grade started out at 23 students, by year-end there were 29.
          This was in a classroom headed by a woefully inexperienced teacher who was already having discipline issues with the class during the year.
          Piling on students in not the answer (from what I experienced,) unless you can hire more para-pros to go along with it.

          On the other hand, my other kid was in a trailer for two different grades, but was none the worse for it. There is a natural limit of kids allowed in those trailers, so the class size was small enough that the trailer accommodations were actually a positive experience.

          1. A good parapro can make all the difference in the world to an elementary school classroom. If I had a choice between an electronic Jeopardy-playing whiteboard, IB curriculum, Farm-to-Table lunch, walk-and-roll transportation, or a good parapro for my child for my child’s class, I’d pick the parapro. All are important and I’d want them all but the parapro would have the biggest single impact. Is there a National ParaPro Month yet?

  7. Afraid? No (or maybe), but irrelevant. Despite your misplaced sense of entitlement, we don’t have to take actions which would increase the class size in our schools. In fact, we can actively choose to exclude non-CoD residents, as we should in this case.

    1. “Misplaced sense of entitlement”? How do you get that? Dude, you’re hurting my feelings.

  8. Re school buildings: Most important part of buildings is that there be enough classrooms to have small class sizes. Small class sizes, high quality teachers, and meaningful parent engagement in their children’s learning are what the research shows makes a difference. Lots of other things are important but without those three, students are less likely to reach their potential.

  9. This proposed annexation is getting a lot of discussion. What is interesting is that the 7 parcels on conway got voted in at the last meeting without much discussion or an impact report that I can find. I am no expert, but I would think that the Conway area had a lot more to gain from annexation than Parkwood. Parkwood is already in a good school district and property values are high. There will probably be 7 new families with kids on conway from this latest annexation moving in the next couple years, which I would imagine would be the close to the same impact as the entire Parkwood annexation. I cannot envision that builders would suddenly start to buy out run down houses in Parkwood for teardowns, simply because there are not really many if any candidates in that neighborhood. And, Parkwood is going to pay it’s share of school tax. A few families will move in, there will be a few expansions/renovations, but I do not foresee a huge turnover like has happened on the south side. Another positive for Parkwood, is that many of the homes there are single story which are better for aging in place. That’s one of the city’s strategic goals, isn’t it?

    1. WP, the one-off annexations are also troubling bc they seem to sneak in under the radar. And yes, the houses on that side of town definitely get that “windfall” that’s being discussed b/c they’re not nearly as desirable as the homes in Parkwood. If someone cared enough and wanted to keep track, I’ll bet the bump in home values for those 7 homes after annexation will be quite high. (Currently, homes just across the city limit on that side of town are significantly less valuable than similar homes inside the city.)

      I think the difference with Parkwood is that it is SO MANY homes. I think 76? That’s really, really huge. Something that large ought to at least include some commercial. It’s just silly to annex so many single family homes – at this point in time. We should vote no at the time and revisit the issue later, if need be.

    2. One-story homes are becoming two-stories all over town. My prediction, which NPR said this morning might be as good as any that NSA does, is that Parkwood will swarming with families with young children in a few years if it is annexed. That’s not necessarily bad. Personally, I love neighborhoods swarming with children. But it will have an impact on CSD.

    1. Wow–there’s a request for the City to annex 27 parcels on Derrydown Way?? I guess they’d rather not become part of Avondale Estates…but man, seems like there are more & more requests for residential annexation. There are gonna be a lot more people in these here 4-square miles of territory!

    2. The annexation maps for the two different Derrydown Way requests are enlightening. When you see the way the city line zig zags around properties, you can see why folks who are zagged out want to be zigged in. Otherwise, COD vs. non-COD is quite piecemeal, not based on contiguous properties. Given that family activities are often what brings neighbors together, having a smoother delineation of COD vs. non-COD would probably be good for neighborhood cohesiveness.

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