Get a Sneak Peek at the Decatur Ballot For Tomorrow’s Election

2015 Decatur ballot

Chris sends along the ballot that’s up at City Hall for Decatur’s local election tomorrow.

All your favorite candidates are on the list, along with CSD’s $75 million G.O. Bond, and a vote on the DeKalb County Board of Ethics Referendum.

We’ll get to the G.O. Bond in a sec, but were you aware of the Board of Ethics vote?  Well, apparently many folks aren’t.  DeKalb Commissioner Kathie Gannon sent a note around last week mentioning that she’s been hearing that many folks are unaware of the Ethics Referendum vote and urged approval.

The ballot reads “Shall the Act be approved which revises the Board of Ethics for DeKalb County?”  What the heck does that mean?

According to Commissioner Gannon, the new legislation will:

  • Create an independent Board of Ethics. No longer will the Board of Ethics be appointed by the CEO and Board of Commissioners.

  • In addition to elected officials, all County employees, appointed officials and contractors must comply with the ethics standards.

  • The Ethics Board will hire an Ethics Officer to make certain all County officials and employees are aware of the standards. This ethics officer will monitor a hotline and report alleged ethical violations to the Board of Ethics.

  • The Board of Ethics has the power to fine, refer for prosecution and reprimand.

Now it’s on the Decatur Schools’ G.O. Bond.  You’ve had months, if not years, to consider it.  Now it’s time to cast your vote.  Take our unofficial, informal, unscientific poll!

If you’ve waited to the last possible moment to learn about the Decatur school system’s $75 million ask, you can check out CSD’s informational pamphlet HERE.  There’s also a pro-G.O. Bond website put together by local residents with info HERE.

18 thoughts on “Get a Sneak Peek at the Decatur Ballot For Tomorrow’s Election”


  1. If this unofficial, unscientific poll is at all predictive, this is gonna be a close vote tomorrow. The equal number of strong yes/no, and weak yes/no is particularly interesting…

    1. Voting YES for the GO Bond will allow us to implement a thoughtful, phased approach to build safe and inviting schools that will be an asset to the entire community for many years to come. This referendum is not about if we want our taxes to go up. It’s about how we want to finance and manage the inevitable cost of seating more than 550+ students who are already in our system and exceed the capacity at the middle and high school, with many more on the way. We are obligated to seat every student. With this bond, we can finance our growth at an historically low interest rate that is payable over 25 years.

      Without the bond, we will instead spend millions of tax dollars on a reactionary and incomplete approach with costly installation of an estimated 87 trailers that will be leased for an entire generation of students. This money will come from the operating budget, which will not require a vote, but taxes will still go up to cover the costs. The quality of our kids’ education would suffer due to larger class sizes, the loss of nearly all green space due to trailers, over-crowded common spaces, lunches that could start as early as 9:45 am, a possible need for an undesirable year-round split school calendar, and many safety concerns. If we don’t approve the bond, we will severely undermine the reputation of our schools and our community that we have worked so hard to build.

      As we know, property tax assessments have gone up in recent years, and in response the City Commission rolled back the property tax millage rate by 1 mill in 2015, and the City Schools of Decatur rolled it back by 2.24 mills since 2014. The bond is expected to increase the millage rate by 2.69 mills, but as the tax digest increases, it will be possible to further reduce the millage rate, thereby controlling the total property taxes paid by residents (millage X assessed value = property tax). Millage rates can be adjusted going forward, but we will likely not have another chance to lock in an historically low interest rate bond.

      To address concerns about the ability of senior citizens to pay increased property taxes, our School Board, City Commission, and State Representatives have committed to support a tax break for the bulk of school related taxes for seniors 65 years and older.

      Please be sure to vote and take a minute to check out the facts at http://www.csdecatur.net/master-plan/go-bond and FAQs at GoYesDecatur.org. Thank you to those who take the time to understand and act responsibly on this important issue facing our community.

  2. If you live in district one or two you get the same ballot with both districts on it. Can we vote for candidates in both districts? Should we only vote for candidates in the district which one lives?

    1. Thanks much for linking to this. I’m looking for clarification on what the base period is for this stated increase. If it’s saying that it will increase 2.7% off the current NEW millage, that’s basically the same # everyone else has been using except they’ve been comparing it to the previous millage – in part because the School Board was clear they were dropping the millage so much for the new fiscal year to offset the GO Bond.

      Also, I’m not sure I understand how the recent reassessments are being applied here. Yes, home assessments have gone up 20% on average this year, but it certainly varies per household based on any # of factors.

      1. My property tax assessment has gone up 53 percent over a 2-year period, in a tiny OLD house that’s never had any additions and no recent renovations. I’m certainly no Tea Partier, but I, like many of my neighbors, feel I’ve been gouged enough. (Yes, my appeal for this year’s assessment is in process.)

  3. Hmm. The vote was slightly tilted towards no this morning and now is tilted the other way. The No voters get up earlier? Yes voters were busy getting the kids off to school? Anyway, the predictably low turnout for a local election means that every vote will count tremendously. No vote, no complaining.

  4. The effective millage rate for the schools portion didn’t really “decrease” because the overall fair market value of the tax digest has increased substantially in tax years 2014 and 2015. Don’t be mislead. The school board has brought in the same or more the past 2 years and adding another couple of mills to it in the future means more taxes. If the fair market value in the tax digest hadn’t increased and had the school board decreased the millage rate, then they could say they “cut taxes.”

    1. Mr Sizzle

      I am not following you, maybe (likely) I am a little dense. The facts as I understand them. CSD Reduced millage rate 2.24 last 2 years. City Commission reduced millage rate 1 mill over same time period. GO Bond is an increase of 2.69 mills. Net of the 3, about a .5 mill decline all up, all in.

      As for total tax rolls. Yes property values increased, so total tax roll increased. The point here is that our City leaders reduced the millage and as a result, tax burden you pay. Without the reduction they passed on to us as Citizens, the GO Bond hit would be much more painful.

      I don’t see this as a political ‘we wanted to say we cut taxes’, I see it as being as good a steward with our $$ as they could be given the circumstances.

      No secret, I am voting Yes tomorrow on it and I encourage others to do the same. While no one wants to pay more tax, I am willing to make an investment in a very attractive Long-term asset — my community and the kids in it. The return on this investment is an attractive one — both economically and emotionally.

  5. I was simply stating that the despite the “Decrease” in the millage rates from the City and the School Board the past two years, it wasn’t enough to offset the gain or increase in the fair market value for the tax digest for tax years 2014 and 2015. I’ve lived in the C.O.D since 1999 and my real property taxes have increased substantially over the past two years due to the increased assessment on my home. Assuming that Go Bond passes tomorrow, it means even more taxes are going to be paid by each property owner in the C.O.D. Two thirds of the residents of this City don’t have children in the school system so to many people who reside here, It’s not all about the kids. Since I’ve lived here the City, since 1999, the C.O.D. has renovated or expanded all of the primary schools, the 4th / 5th academy, the new school at 5th avenue in Oakhurst, Renfroe middle school and the high school as well. The high school also got a new stadium and playing field right after the school board had installed a sodded field a year or two before. The city has redone the municipal court buildings, the police station, they’ve renovated most of the parks, they’ve redone all of the public works space at Talley Street. They also renovated the city hall space on the square as well. The “Bill” Gym on Sycamore got renovated too. I guess the spending will stop when they can’t squeeze any more out of the average homeowner here, or it will stop when they’ve run out of things to renovate.

  6. @ R Sizzle

    If you don’t want the go bong to pass get up early and recruit seniors to vote. They don’t have Internet access and probability do not have access to all the data. No where in the referendum states anything about lowering taxes for seniors. Seniors have paid their fair share and it’s not fair for them to subsidize the $900,000 homes assess as $300,000.

    1. William, you’re correct — the bond referendum does not address tax relief for seniors. But the school board did approve a motion to lower the exemption of the school tax from age 80 (currently) to age 65. This would have to pass the legislature next, then be approved by Decatur voters — both of which are more than doable, and as a community, we should commit to getting this done.

      One overlooked concern about defeat of the G.O. bond: The best alternative solution, portable classrooms, will have to be paid for out of instruction funds, a solution that is almost certainly going to cost more in the long run. In the first four years alone, the cost would be $28 million for those portables. Who knows after that? We could bet that the space shortage is a blip. But if it’s true that people really do want to move to Decatur (replacing small homes with larger ones that accommodate families), then the enrollment surge will last a while.

      Paying that much $ for portables will require a tax increase as well. So do we borrow the money now while interest rates are low and build more permanent space? Or play wait-and-see and hope for an enrollment decline?

  7. can you do this voting link for the race today? it would be very interesting to have a Decatur Metro Commission on your site?

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