On April 25, interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May signed an executive order creating a charter review commission to study the county’s form of government.
“I am very much in support of changing our form of government to be more like the other 158 counties in the state,” said May, who for years has been vocal about his support for a county manager form of government.
“But ultimately it’s not my decision alone,” said May, who will be leaving office at the end of the year. “It’s a decision that the people—the voters of DeKalb County—have to make. But we don’t want them to make a decision in a vacuum.”
Under the executive order, the commission will be comprised of one appointee by each member of the Board of Commissioners (May will make the appointment for the vacant District 7 seat); and one member each appointed by the DeKalb House delegation, DeKalb Board of Education, DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Municipal Association, Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, and two additional members—who will serve as co-chairs—appointed by May.
County officials asked the state legislature to pass a measure establishing the charter review commission, but that legislation “unfortunately” fell through, May said.
“My preference would have been the legislature to do it, but we been down this road before,” May said. “We have asked them to put forward various legislative opportunities that would help us in DeKalb County. When they have failed to do that, we’ve taken action into our own hands.”
May said he expects it to take at least a year for the commission “to bring forward their litany of recommendations” to the CEO and Board of Commissioners, who will in turn give those recommendations to the state legislators that represent DeKalb County.
The commission will have a budget of $150,000 for technical assistance.
Per the executive order, the commission must hold its first meeting no later than June 30 and submit its final recommendations no later than June 30, 2017, to the Board of Commissioners and CEO and to “each member of the General Assembly from DeKalb County, the governor, the lieutenant governor, speaker of the house and chairpersons of the Senate state and local governmental operations committee and the House governmental affairs committee.”
“We believe this is a local issue and this is a local county making a decision on what’s the most appropriate form of government,” May said. “This is a decision that the citizens and residents of DeKalb County ought to make.”
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