DeKalb Police flex muscle in South DeKalb

April 19, 2011 4 comments

For those of you who have driven in South DeKalb for the last few weekends has probably notice the increased presence of DeKalb police especially in the Glenwood and Candler Road areas. I attend church on Glenwood, and have gotten used to seeing a large presence there to counteract what some call ‘Glenwood Day” which typically happens sometime in April. This year seems a bit different though. DeKalb has seemed to stretch their presence much further out than the Glenwood road area. Every weekend in April of this year, I have seen them in large numbers on up and down Columbia, Memorial, Candler and some of the side streets in the area. I myself was pulled over After my wife undid her buckle to check on our son who was in his car seat in the back. The officer questioned us for a minute or so and sent us on our way. (He was unusually polite, must have been my church clothes) Zero tolerance seems to mean zero tolerance right now. Now we know where the officers who used to patrol Dunwoody ended up. I for one am glad to see the police being proactive and possibly removing violent men and women off the streets of South DeKalb. I do have to wonder though, with the budget mess and other issues in the county, How long will this show of force last. A long and sustained show of force, along with residents doing their part, would make the area a much more pleasant place to be. If this thing is short lived, then I have to wonder why do it at all.

Transportation wish list has many South DeKalb projects

April 15, 2011 4 comments

Here is a list of road and transit requests that directly affect South DeKalb county. Many of them are just road improvements, but a few are massive projects that cost a lot of cash. As you know, in  2012 we all will vote on whether to impose an additional penny tax on ourselves to pay for improved transportation infrastructure. Right now the list is very long, but it will be pared down in the coming months. By October, a final list will be presented and it will be voted on in 2012. There are a few projects in South DeKalb that have some merit. Improvements to the interchanges at Panoala/I-20 and the 285/Bouldercrest Rd. Interchanges. Anyone who has driven on either of these roads know they are woefully inadequate for the traffic they carry. In terms of mass transit, there are several options on the table that will bring transit alternatives to many areas along the I-20 corridor including the possibility of a heavy rail extension from Indian Creek to Wesley Chapel Road. Here is a list I culled from the AJC. If you want more details and costs for each, check out their database here. If you want more info on the entire project check out the ARC page here.


PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name Bouldercrest Road from I-285 South to Linecrest Road – Widening

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose Improve from 2 lanes to 4 divided lanes with landscaped median, sidewalks and bike lanes. Improve traffic flow, relieve congestion, produce safety and operation improvements and improve access to I-285. Linecrest Road to I-285.

 PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name SR 212 (Browns Mill Road) from SR 155 (Snapfinger Road) to Rockdale County Line – Corridor Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose Relieve congestion at key intersections and improve traffic flow by adding turn lanes, bike/ped and signalization upgrades. Snapfinger to Rockdale County line.

PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name Columbia Drive from US 78 (College Avenue) to I-20 East – Corridor Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose Relieve congestion at key intersections, add sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic signal upgrades, and resurfacing. I-20 to E College Ave.

 PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name US 278 (Covington Highway) from I-285 East to SR 124 (Turner Hill Road) – Corridor Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose Relieve congestion at key intersections, add sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic signal upgrades and resurfacing. Evans Hill Rd to SR 124 (Turner Hill Rd), I-285 to Evans Mill Rd.

 PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name SR 155 (Flat Shoals Parkway) from I-285 South to Snapfinger Road – Corridor Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose Relieve congestion at key intersections, add sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic signal updgrades and resurfacing. SR 155 (Snapfinger) to I-285.

 PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name Glenwood Road from SR 155 (Candler Road) to US 278 (Covington Highway) – Corridor Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose Relieve congestion at key intersections, add sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic signal updgrades and resurfacing. SR 155 (Candler Rd) to Covington Hwy

 PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name Panola Road from SR 155 (Snapfinger Road) to US 278 (Covington Highway) – Widening and Corridor Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose Convert a 2-lane to a 4-lane divided with sidewalks, bike lanes. US 278 (Covington Hwy) to SR 155 (Snapfinger Rd); Covington Hwy to Redan Rd.

PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name SR 155 (Snapfinger Road) from Flat Shoals Parkway to River Road – Corridor Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose To relieve congestion at key intersections, add sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic signal upgrades, and resurfacing. From Flat Shoals to River Road and intersection improvement.

PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name Wesley Chapel Road from SR 155 (Flat Shoals Parkway) to Boring Road – Corridor Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose To relieve congestion at key intersections, add sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic signal upgrades, and resurfacing. From Boring Road to Flat Shoals Parkway.

PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name I-20 East at Panola Road – Interchange Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose Construct interchange upgrades at Panola Road

PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name I-285 South at Bouldercrest Road – Interchange Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose Interchange improvements at Bouldercrest Road, adding turn lanes, improved ramps and bridges.

PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name I-20 East Corridor Bus Rapid Transit Improvements – Phase A

Agency MARTA

Project purpose This project is Phase A of the I-20 East Transit initiative to construct and operate high capacity transit in the I-20 East corridor. Phase A will construct a Park & Ride lot and Transfer Center at the Mall at Stonecrest off Mall Parkway asouth of I-20 in Dekalb County. Bus service from this facility will include local and semi-express service to and from the Perimeter Center, Central Atlanta, Cumberland and Airport acitivity centers and the South Dekalb residential area.

PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name I-20 East Corridor Bus Rapid Transit Improvements – Phase B

Agency MARTA

Project purpose This project is Phase B of the I-20 East Transit initiative to construct and operate high capacity transit in the I-20 East corridor and assumbes Phase A is fully funded and selected for the Transportation Investment Act investment list. Phase B will construct three Transit Centers with associated needed parking at three locations along I-20 consistent with the I-20 East Transit Initiative scheduled for adoption in July 2011. The most likely locations as of March 30, 2011 at I-20 and Candler Road, I-20 and Wesley Chapel Road and Fairington Road/Dekalb Medical Center Hillandale. Bus service from these facilities will include local and semi-express service to and from the Perimeter Center, Central Atlanta and Cumberland activity centers and the South Dekalb residential areas

PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name I-20 East Corridor High Capacity Transit from Central Atlanta to Candler Road

Agency MARTA

Project purpose To provide transit service to South Dekalb County that directly connects to Downtown Atlanta. This segment will achieve the goal of connecting the South Dekalb area and Downtown Atlanta in the shortest length possible. There would be connections to the existing MARTA heavy rail system once reaching central Atlatna. Light rail or bus rapid transit would be the possible technologies utilized.

PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name MARTA East Heavy Rail Line Extension from Indian Creek Station to Wesley Chapel Road Near I-20 East

Agency MARTA

Project purpose To provide transit service in the South Dekalb area by implementing a segment of the I-20 East transit project. This segment would be HRT and would connect to the existing MARTA Blue (East) Line. The first phase would begin at Wesley Chapel and travel to Indian Creek. This is about 5.4 miles.


Breakfast with Stan Watson and Friends

April 6, 2011 3 comments

An update to this post. After some bouncing around, I found a story about a bill that would have granted a charter to a new City of Brookhaven. House Bill 636 was sponsored by Mike Jacobs and Tom Taylor who represent the North DeKalb area. The bill was dropped by Jacobs, but his HB 428 is still alive.

 

This past weekend I attended one of the many breakfast sessions that DeKalb Commissioner Stan Watson holds on a regular basis. I went to the meeting because the line-up was a who’s who of South DeKalb democratic politicians. Alongside Stan, was fellow commissioner Lee May, Several state legislators including Rahn Mayo, Howard Mosby, and Pam Stephenson. Also in attendance, John Evans from the NAACP and Jesse Cunningham, who was there as a replacement for Superintendent Ramona Tyson who could not make it. There were members of the DeKalb Police command as well as the newly appointed fire chief. There were several state senators, representatives and business interests whose names I could not get. The turnout was probably 90 percent of the capacity at the Chapel Hill MS cafeteria. The main focus of these sessions is to provide information and updates about what our representatives in state and local positions are doing. I commend commissioner Watson on his efforts. He not only brought in elected officials, but also in attendance were county employees who discussed an overhaul to the county’s personal care home ordinance. There was also a representative from the Department of Watershed Management who explained why we should not be pouring grease or grease containing foods down our drains. A representative from Autism Speaks was in attendance as well, and she provided info on the upcoming walk for autism.  For me the highlight of the program was when a young kid diagnosed with Autism took to the microphone to present a painting of his to Watson. All was not peaches and cream though. I came away from the session a bit more informed about some issues, but was less than enthusiastic about the representatives we put into office. My very first impression was that this was some sort of fraternity of politicians where, if you were not a member,  your concerns took a backseat to the handshakes and pats on the back by members of the fraternity and their friends. A quick chat with Lee May about crime along the River Road corridor yielded an answer about development planning along Bouldercrest to River Road. Not to be downplaying any plan for redevelopment, but I was more concerned about the quality of life crimes that are so prevalent along River, Panthersville, and Flatshoals Pkwy. I told Mr. May that if the county allows those subdivisions to fall, it would be like pushing over dominoes. Once one falls the others will surely follow. Even a talk with one state representative (I cannot name him since I got in a question without identifying myself and my intentions) about HB 428, yielded a shrug of the shoulders and a reply of I don’t know. HB 428 is an annexation and incorporation bill for North DeKalb and Brookhaven area. I for one believe that the many wounds that afflict parts of South DeKalb are self-inflicted, but I would expect our leadership to have our best interest at heart when they decide to run for political office. Given the turnout  for this session, I think there are plenty of folks in South DeKalb trying to keep the area from total disaster. I wonder if the politicians we elected have the same desire.

A few more thoughts

March 31, 2011 1 comment

New Home Construction

If you have driven down River Rd lately you may have noticed signs advertising new homes for sale. Apparently the economy has come back with such a roar that the last bit of land cleared before the recession  is back in business to sell you a new home. Now, unlike in the housing boom where they put houses up without a buyer in sight, it seems the builder is only going to build if there is a buyer in hand. The prices came down from 180-200’s to the 140’s. I find it hard to believe that a builder out there can get financing to build again especially in an area that was hit pretty hard with foreclosures and where costs of existing homes are half of what they are asking for these new homes. I hope they do well, because it would be a great sign that maybe things are once again on the upswing.

A new school Superintendent?

It seems the board and its consulting firm has given us three candidates to take over for the indicted and disgraced Crawford Lewis. The three candidates are scheduled to do a dog and pony for the public on Thursday. By now you know their names and their credentials and probably more. I went to the local media sites where all three live just to get a feel for how the media and the public views them. At this point it is a two-woman race from my vantage point. Mr. Culver has some issues that are not deal breakers, but at this point DeKalb schools do not need a polarizing or slightly dinged figure to come in and takeover. It will just add to the mistrust and lack of faith that the general public has in the school system. That leaves the other two candidates. The superintendent from North Carolina, Lillie Cox,  would be the boldest move. I am not buying the argument that she comes from a small district. If you can lead a few successfully, then you should be able to lead many. Apparently she is beloved in her present job, and some are mad that she is considering leaving.  But I doubt she is going to make the cut with the public or enough board members. Then there is Dr. Gloria Davis from Decatur Illinois. She will probably land this job because she is the safe pick that will cause the least amount of criticism. It is still early in the process. I hope the board and the consulting firm did their homework. I would hate to have someone hired and then find out they plagiarized their Doctoral Thesis.


School Board Takeover?

I found this poll on former mayor Shirley Franklins blog. When asked if they supported a takeover of the school board by a mayor or county commision, a mjority of voters agreed.

The survey of 595 metropolitan Atlanta voters commission by Blogging While Blue about various issues reveals that 54% of voters support school takeovers while only 30% oppose them.

While I would agree that if a board has become so dysfunctional someone needs to step in, I would rather see the requirements for becoming a board member increased. I cannot fathom someone who does not have a college degree serving on a school board. Having a conviction involving children or a felony should be an automatic disqualification. I would like to see more highly qualified professional men and women seek school board positions, not people who want to use it as a stepping stone to some other public office.

And Finally,

I am sort of neutral on where libraries fit into our digital culture, but I must say that I was totally impressed with twelve year old Sekondi Landry. Young Mr. Landry was not to happy that the Scott-Candler Library on McAfee was slated to close. So He decided to start a petition to save his library. Now I don’t know for sure that it was his petition alone that saved the library, but it made me feel all good inside to see a twelve year old get out and fight for something he believes in. Too many times our kids fight for the wrong cause. This kid was on the right side of a good cause. Things like that makes even a pessimist like me think there is hope down the road.

Concentration of poor in South DeKalb hurts schools

March 23, 2011 2 comments

This is part of a NY Times Op-Ed. You can read the full thing here. Also read the comments, some are very enlightening.

Educators know that it is very difficult to get consistently good results in schools characterized by high concentrations of poverty. The best teachers tend to avoid such schools. Expectations regarding student achievement are frequently much lower, and there are lower levels of parental involvement. These, of course, are the very schools in which so many black and Hispanic children are enrolled.

Breaking up these toxic concentrations of poverty would seem to be a logical and worthy goal. Long years of evidence show that poor kids of all ethnic backgrounds do better academically when they go to school with their more affluent — that is, middle class — peers. But when the poor kids are black or Hispanic, that means racial and ethnic integration in the schools. Despite all the babble about a postracial America, that has been off the table for a long time.

I am a pessimist at heart and after reading the above Op-Ed from the NY Times, it just hardens me even more to the fact that our society continues to drift into two opposing camps. Not by race so much as by class. Education was touted as the equalizer to poverty. With a decent education you could escape the ignorance and poverty of the previous generation. Today, it seems that door is slowly closing. Fact is schools with large populations of poor families are the schools that are failing to educate their citizens out of poverty. In fact, these schools are doing the exact opposite. These schools have teachers with far less experience and far less passion. Children come from homes where education is marginalized only to arrive at school where the same attitude affects a super majority of the students and a few of the staff as well. Coming from a poverty stricken family is not the fault of the child, but we place the burden of being poor on the child. Children who have the opportunity to escape these poverty stricken schools do far better than those who are stuck there. Concentrating poor and uneducated people in any situation is not good for them nor is it good for our society. It did not work in housing, and it is not working in our educational system.

Proposed budget cuts gonna be hard for DeKalb residents

March 14, 2011 2 comments

Among the cuts probably headed our way according to AJC article:

Library to close

The library board voted to close the Scott Candler branch on McAfee Road. Other libraries will see reduced weekend and evening hours.

Cuts to police on the ground

A memo from Police Chief William O’Brien says he plans to cut 46 police officers, including the 40 vacancies the June academy was scheduled to fill and six new cadets

Closing precincts and response times

The chief is also looking at closing the Flakes Mill Precinct in south DeKalb and limiting responses to theft, fraud, harassing phone calls, vandalism, gambling and other non-emergency calls

Fire cuts personnel and stations

The fire department’s proposal calls for cutting 197 positions to privatize ambulance services. That includes 89 current employees and 108 vacancies. Of the 89 current employees, 83 are now in the fire training academy, according to a memo from Fire Chief Eddie O’Brien. He has also proposed temporarily closing stations 3 in Avondale Estates and 10 in east Atlanta during renovations

Dead bodies can wait

The medical examiner has proposed stopping weekend autopsies and storing bodies until weekday staff can handle them

More furloughs and layoffs

elections workers being furloughed 18 days and the voter registration office closing two days a month, except during October and November. Human resources, Planning, Geographic Information Services, and other departments have proposed layoffs

I guess they have trimmed all the fat and cut into the meat, now they are working on  the bone.

Incorporate South DeKalb, Pt. 2

March 14, 2011 1 comment

I have written in the past about areas of South DeKalb being incorporated into a city or city lite (providing zoning, planning, code enforcement). Well it looks like South DeKalb is on it’s  way to being the only unincorpoarated area in the county. Doing my daily jaunt around the local blogs, I found this post at the DeKalb School Watch blog. The post talks about incorporation and annexation of neighborhoods around Chamblee and Dunwoody, especially those sandwiched between the two cities. Mike Jacobs, who represents the area in the Statehouse, wants to make it easier for his constituents to basically secede from DeKalb County and take more control of their own destiny from DeKalb County government,  Here is part of the actual posting from Mr. Jacobs site:

As the Dunwoody Crier has noted, my interest in annexation is driven by “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.”

Police response times in Chamblee and Dunwoody are far lower than those in unincorporated DeKalb. Dunwoody is planning major improvements to their local parks. Chamblee and Dunwoody are both conservatively managed and are experiencing budget surpluses. And in stark contrast to CEO Burrell Ellis’ constant drumbeat for higher property taxes, Chamblee is considering cutting its millage rate this year.

It simply is not true that incorporation into a city necessarily means that your property taxes will go up. Many cities are actually able to deliver better services and a lower tax burden than can be found in nearby unincorporated areas.

Another option that might be worth exploring is the incorporation of a new municipality altogether, perhaps a City of Brookhaven that could reach as far south as Buford Highway or even I-85. Of course, such an option would require interest from neighborhoods south of Windsor Parkway such as Historic Brookhaven, Ashford Park, Brookhaven Heights, Brookhaven Fields, and Drew Valley.

It is sad to say, but I doubt we could get a representative from South DeKalb to even explore the feasibility of such an idea

DeKalb redistricting faces lawsuit, but…

March 8, 2011 5 comments

The AJC reported today that a lawsuit was filed in DeKalb Superior Court to stop the planned redistricting of DeKalb schools. Well that lawsuit itself is questionable(see images here and here). It seems John Evans of the DeKalb NAACP says that he did not sign on to the suit, nor did he give permission for others to use his name on the lawsuit. According to the AJC, five parents filed the complaint along with Evans. Looking at the suit, it seems that Latasha Walker is the lead plaintiff as well as several others including Evans. When I spoke with Evans, he said that he was not a willing or active participant in the suit, and has asked those who filed the suit to remove hos name by the end of the day or he will take legal action. He said he would not discuss any of the details of the redistricting or whether he supports the lawsuit until his name is removed. I did talk with a staffer at the DeKalb NAACP offices, and he too was surprised that Mr. Evans was a party in the suit. The question I have is how can someone just add you to a lawsuit without your consent or knowledge? I think someone has a lot of explaining to do.

Here is a copy of the complaint filed yesterday. A quick read of the document, and the first thing out of my head was that this was not filed by an attorney. Usually at the bottom, you will see the filing attorneys information. Also The AJC reported that one petitioner, Annette Davis Jackson, moved out of DeKalb to Gwinnett because her kids were kicked out of school. The complaint states that Ms. Jackson is a resident of DeKalb. I do not know if that is sworn testimony, but if it is then she has some explaining to do also.

Foreclosures not the reason for enrollment drops in South DeKalb

March 2, 2011 2 comments

Would someone please inform the AJC that unless they have done the research, to stop insinuating that the high number of foreclosures in South DeKalb is the reason why school enrollment is down. There is no doubt that some students who leave a particular school has done so because their parents were forced out of their home, but enrollment in many South DeKalb schools has been declining for almost a decade. Here are a few examples from this year alone of the AJC making it a point to blame foreclosures for the recent enrollment drops. Here are a few examples:

 

From March 1st

Many speakers at the hearing accused the board of pandering to the interest of parents in affluent north DeKalb neighborhoods, while targeting schools in the south. However neighborhoods in south DeKalb are some of the hardest hit by foreclosures

 

In a story jan. 13th

Most of the schools slated to close are in south DeKalb, which has been hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. Children from those schools would move to schools in other areas of the county

 

This from Feb 7th

However, south DeKalb houses some of the neighborhoods in metro Atlanta hardest hit by the housing slump and foreclosures.

 

I did some cursory research on school enrollment at a few schools in South DeKalb, and found that the schools scheduled to close were losing kids years before the foreclosure crisis. In fact during the recent foreclosure mess and economic downturn, some schools have been able to maintained their enrollment levels. I decided to go back to the 2003-2004 school year. That was when I purchased my home, and I remember that people were still high on real estate and foreclosure was unheard of. Her is what I found:

 

Atherton Elementary Had 466 students in the 03/04 school year. Two years later(05/06) they had fallen to 438. Two years after that, it was down to 419, and by the 2009-2010 school year, Atherton had 399 students. Gresham Park fared far worse, going from 400 students in 02-03 to under 300 by the 09-10 school year. Both schools had massive drops that started long before the economic downturn and the resulting spate of foreclosures

 

Contrast that to A couple of larger schools in newer areas of South DeKalb. Oakview, opened in 2005, started out with 876 students by 2010 they had 828, a loss of 48 students, still one of the largest elementary schools in the county. Chapel Hill had 784 students in 2003, and 763 by 2010. Both schools loss less than six percent of their students.

 

My point is simply this; Without any hard numbers, making assumptions that foreclosures are the reasons for these school’s falling enrollment is misleading and lazy. If the reporter had a simple knowledge of the area, they would know that demographics is playing the largest role in enrollment decline. Unlike in other parts of the county, some areas in South DeKalb are not replacing students at a high enough clip for these schools to maintain normal enrollment numbers. In other areas of South DeKalb you have schools that are. These phenomenon are nothing new. In the 90’s, schools in South DeKalb that were outside 285 experienced such rapid growth that new schools had to be built to accommodate the influx of students. A decade or so from now, the declining enrollment at schools inside 285 will probably spread to those outside 285 in South DeKalb. It is a shift in demographics. Unless young people with young children move into South DeKalb, you are going to see this play out several more times in the near future.

 

DeKalb budget strained by pensions; personnel

February 16, 2011 4 comments

I attended a public meeting on DeKalbs budget held by commissioners Elaine Boyer and Kathy Gannon on Tuesday. It was an eye opening experince as to why the taxpayers in DeKalb should be concerned in the next week or so. The county commission is scheduled to vote February 22nd on whether or not to approve or amend a 12% increase in property taxes that CEO Burrell Ellis has proposed. The CEO and others feel that a tax increase is the only way to balance a budget that started the year off 7 million in the hole.

At the meeting, a financial consultant laid out what is at stake when the commision votes. In his estimation, the county cannot continue down the path it is currently on. The worst case scenario showed the property tax digest falling once again in 2011 and personnel costs continuing to increase. In that scenario, the county would not be able to maintain services at the the present tax rate. Something will have to give. Either a tax hike, which many in the audience were against, more service cuts or massive overhaul of the benefits and pensions of county employees. when looking at the numbers, it is obvious that the pension system is killing the budget, along with the bloated payroll. I have posted in the past how the county has ignored the recommendations of a Georgia State University audit that said the county should eliminate or consolidate positions within the county government to reduce costs. That will address some of the short term pain, but a closer look at the pension system shows it is the 800 pound gorilla that no one wants to tackle. Because of state law, the county has to maintain a certain level of funds to pay out pesions to county employees. In 2011, the county is on the hook for nearly 50 million dollars so that the pension remains viable. But lets take alook at this pension. Way back in the day, government employees were compensated less than their private sector counterparts. To address this governments around the country gave their employees very gracious health and pension benefits to hire and keep good employees. Today, that system is bankrupting local governments, who have to continue to pay out benefits to retirees and help cover employees healthcare. Add to that the downturn in the stock and bond markets, and local goverments are finding it hard to keep pace with the required minimums set by law. So what is the solution?

In the private sector, when your 401k tanked in the last couple of years, you were on the hook for the losses. That is not the case for government funded pensions and healthcare. We the taxpayers have to foot the bill to ensure that DeKalb’s pension system does not go into default. So the 50 or so million dollar tab that the pension system needs to remain viable is passed on to us, the taxpayers. Raising taxes today will not solve the pension and benefits problem that will continue for years to come. If the county wanted to fix this, they could force employees into a private system such as plans similar to 401k where employees determine how much of their pay goes towards their retirement. Any future employee would be directed into this new pension formula thereby taking the responsibility off the taxpayer a placing it on the shoulder of the employee. The county could also ask employees to pay higher deductibles for their healthcare. High deductible plans are the path that many government and private sector employees are going to help balance their budgets.

Let me go on the record as saying I am not totally against a tax increase to help balance the budget. What I am against is the county asking me to send them more of my income to balance their budget when they have not trimmed as much fat as possible. Public safety should be their primary concern. Quality of life issues like libraries and parks may have to take a temporary cut, but if the county would address benefits and pensions, the cuts to quality of life programs would not be hit nearly as hard.

I encourage all DeKalb residents to contact their commissioners and tell them that they must act on health and benefits before they pass a tax increase. In this economy, few people should have to pass more of their hard earned dollars to the county, when the county has not put forth an effort to curb its spending.

Another budget town hall will be held at the Tucker Library, 5234 LaVista RoadTucker, GA 30084 on Thursday February 17th at 7 pm.

Want more info on the DeKalb budget? Check out these links

CEO’s proposed budget

BOC budget information

Budget Opinion