DeKalb operations task force sets topics for first meeting

Interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May signs an executive order creating a task force to explore DeKalb County’s government and operations. Photo provided

The newly formed Task Force on DeKalb County Operations will discuss a range of issues, including the current governance structure of the county, the Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST), ethics and transparency, among other things at its first meeting.

Interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May created the task force with the support of the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners through an executive order in March.

May has been a vocal proponent in exploring a change in the county’s governance structure.

“We need some fresh eyes on these issues, and we need representatives from a myriad of government agencies to participate, as these are complex issues,” May said.

The 15-member committee consists of legislators and officials from DeKalb County and surrounding area including Commissioners Sharon Barnes Sutton, Jeff Rader and Stan Watson, senators Gloria Butler and Elena Parent, Representatives Karla Drenner and Billy Mitchell and David L. Sjoquist, professor of economics and director of domestic programs at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies Georgia State University.

The task force also will explore the financial, business, zoning and quality of life impact on DeKalb County residents, as well as the effects of annexation and cityhood.

“For instance, under the current law, the distribution of capital funding from Homestead Optional Sales Tax between unincorporated and incorporated portions of the county is extremely unequal. Nearly 75 percent of the revenue goes to the cities with less than 20 percent of the population,” May said. “It is my sincere hope this task force can come to a consensus on how we can fix DeKalb in one fell swoop and make the most of the one year cooling off period that we asked the Georgia General Assembly to afford us.”

According to a news release, the 15-member panel also includes three nonvoting members appointed by the Georgia Municipal Association and the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia. Former Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd is one of the nonvoting members appointed by the municipal association.

“I’m encouraged that they’re willing to look at these things…I’m cautious and I’m a little bit concerned of the purpose of having nonvoting members on the task force,” Floyd said.

Floyd said that he is in a “wait and see” mode and will reserve judgment on what the task force’s intent is and what it hopes to accomplish.

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