Annexation isn’t just a topic of conversation around Decatur. Though our city has long been toying with the idea of expanding its limits in order to increase its commercial base, there hasn’t yet been the almost necessary outcry by surrounding residents looking to trade their DeKalb-run services for Decatur to make it happen.
However, it’s a different story further north. The initial benefits of the newly-minted city of Dunwoody – which captured millions of dollars of DeKalb County property tax revenue after its late-2008 creation – has other northern residents weighing the benefits of more local city government services and functions.
Georgia State Rep. Mike Jacobs recently wrote on his blog he’s been hearing “increasing discontent with DeKalb County Government: rising tax bills, fewer services, inefficient government, and a lack of confidence that things are going to get better at the county.” As a result, he’s introduced House Bill 428, which allows for “adjacent municipalities to annex neighborhoods in an “unincorporated peninsula” (an unincorporated area that is 75% or more surrounded by cities) after the adoption of a city council resolution and the passage of a referendum by the citizens in the unincorporated area.” The bill also takes away the County’s unilateral veto power in preventing such annexations, according to Jacobs.
Whether this currently unincorporated peninsula would become part of Dunwoody or its own “City of Brookhaven” is far from being addressed, let alone decided, however these renewed talks about yet another northern annexation leads to a very serious question: How much more annexation can DeKalb County take before its only option is even more massive layoffs and reductions in services and/or large tax increases?
In response to this new Brookhaven annexation push, the DeKalb Officers blog flatly stated recently “We believe if either of theses happen, annexation or the formation of another city, Dekalb County will collapse. The Northlake/Oak Grove/Emory area cannot sustain today’s spending and looting.”
If not totally collapse, what would a DeKalb with little northern property to call its own look like? Will taxes rise to a point where the current lower tax-rate advantage is eliminated and everyone begins calling for annexation by the nearest city? Or will the county be forced to scale down to a point where services are much more meager than they even are today?