What is the Lakeside City Alliance?
The Lakeside City Alliance (LCA) is comprised of neighbors in northern DeKalb County who are studying the pros and cons of forming a new city in this part of the County. We are a group of concerned citizens who realize that consideration of a new city requires input from our community. We look forward to community meetings that will provide information and elicit discussion. We will also use the various social media outlets we have established on Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo! Groups and on our website to connect and collect input and feedback.
Here are questions and answers from our most recent community meeting (4/18/13). General questions, specific questions for Oliver Porter and specific questions regarding schools are posted. These questions and comments were submitted through email and collected in writing from the audience. All questions that we received have been addresses; in some cases, similar questions were asked and have been consolidated. The Powerpoint presentation from the meeting can be found on the “Presentations” page of this website.
Who is on the Lakeside City Alliance?
The organizing committee is made up of the organizing board (Mary Kay Woodworth, Steve Schultz, Kevin Levitas and Susan Meyers , who are handling the day-to-day work, Kelley McManaman and Bernie Knight, all residents of unincorporated DeKalb County. Committee members and other volunteers are from neighborhoods throughout the proposed map boundaries.
Why are we on the organizing committee?
Because we are residents of the community, live in the community, and are interested in determining if our neighbors would like to move forward and explore options, such as cityhood. We are all unpaid volunteers with a vested interest in this community in unincorporated DeKalb County. Currently, committees are being formed, to be comprised of interested citizens. Chairs of committees will be published as these committees are populated.
Why do you call it Lakeside?
Lakeside” is a working name. We need to know our final boundaries before we can get to the point of naming the city, and we have a great deal of work to do before we get to that point. The name “Lakeside” was an attempt to avoid using names of places that might give the appearance that one area (Oak Grove, Northlake, Briarcliff Woods, Hawthorne, etc.) was more important than the other.
How did you arrive at the proposed borders?
The boundaries were determined by identifying an area where people shop in the same shops, eat at the same restaurants, attend the same places of worship, where our children and grandchildren attend the same schools and so on, paying attention to contiguous areas and natural boundaries. A revised “proposed” map was released 3/25/13. The revisions were based, in part, on meetings, conversations and feedback with residents, civic associations and other groups during the last few months and weeks. It is likely that there will be additional revisions to the map moving forward.
How did this come about?
The Lakeside City Alliance is the outgrowth of meetings regarding cityhood held during 2012 and early 2013.
Why explore formation of a new city?
- To provide local control to our community.
- To efficiently manage our tax dollars.
- To provide a voice to tens of thousands of people in this area who, in the opinion of many, have not a significant voice in the administration of lives.
- Instead of seven people representing 700,000 citizens, a city might have one representative for every 7-10 thousand, and these would be people who live, work and play in our community.
What’s the process?
- Define our community. As some have asked, “who are we?”
- Define the boundaries of a proposed city boundary.
- Obtain community input and make adjustments to these definitions as necessary.
- Request that our elected officials introduce legislation (a placeholder bill in year one) to create a new city since only the General Assembly can provide authorization to create new cities.
- Commission a feasibility study of the defined area. Is there a sustainable balance of commercial and residential property to fund a city without raising property taxes?
- If it is economically feasible and the community desires to move forward, during legislative year two, legislators will discuss the bill and vote on it. If the legislation passes and is signed into law, hold a vote in our community on whether the new city should be formed.
- If voters approve the ballot, hold elections to seat government officials, and a transition committee would be appointed by the Governor to help the local government get up and running.
- The initial and ongoing operation of the local government on the date set out in the bill creating the new city.
Are there time constraints that need to be considered because of other legislation proposed?
Constraints are imposed because of a House committee rule regarding the formation of cities, which requires that a bill must be introduced during the first year of the two-year session of the Legislature.
Will this help the school situation?
No. This IS NOT a reason for city incorporation. Presently, our State Constitution provides that no new school system could be established in a newly created city. The question regarding the impact on schools keeps coming up. To clarify:
1) A new city cannot create a new school system. Georgia’s Constitution does not allow this. City school systems such as Atlanta, Decatur and Marietta were formed prior to the constitutional prohibition.
2) A city’s boundaries have NO effect on the DeKalb County School System’s attendance districts. Attendance districts will change only if DeKalb County School System redistricts.
3) If an amendment is ever made to Georgia’s Constitution (which could be difficult) to allow new school districts, a city could potentially create a new new school system if they so desired. It goes without saying, however, that no city school system could be created in our area unless a new city is formed.
Wouldn’t a new city just be another layer of government?
No, it would be a shift of certain responsibilities from the county government overseeing 700,000 to a local board representing 50-60 thousand people in this area. The resulting representation would be more direct with more accessible officials who live, work and play in our own community.
What are the services, what will it cost?
There is a list of services mandated by Georgia law, and cities must provide provides at least three of the following services, either directly or by contract – O.C.G.A. § 36-30-7.1 (b)
Initially, we have proposed Public Safety, Parks and Recreation and Zoning as services for a potential new city to provide, as these services seem to be the most widely discussed in our area. All other services would continue to be provided by DeKalb County.
People want more police officers and quicker response times in our area. They want greater control over zoning decisions so that development occurs in a thoughtful manner and so that development that does not fit with our community’s vision of itself does not materialize seemingly overnight as some nightclubs have. People also want to have well-developed and well-maintained public spaces where people can walk, where kids can play and where pets can be outdoor.
Will property taxes increase? Will taxes decrease?
No city should increase property taxes as long as a sustainable mix of commercial and residential property exists. Dunwoody has not raised property taxes and has still created budget surpluses of $2-3 million annually. In the view of the Alliance, the city charter would include a provision that property taxes could not be raised without the approval of voters in a referendum. Taxes could decrease if there was a budget surplus, but it could be that taxes will simply remain at current levels. That would be a decision for the local government and voters to decide. Please see the information under “Presentations” for information about the cost of services.
What is the relationship between a city and a county with regards to school districts and zoning? Will a new city have its own school district?
Currently, there is no relationship. At present, our State Constitution provides that no new school system could be established in a newly created city. It is possible, however, that this could change in the future. It goes without saying, however, that no city school system could be created in our area unless a new city is formed. Note: Decatur and Marietta school systems were created before this was added to the Constitution, and therefore were grandfathered in.
Will the work of this group include alternate ways to address what is considered to be inadequate services/attention from the County besides incorporating as a city? (i.e. better representation on the county board of commissioners, strengthening civic associations, etc.).
Yes. Part of the task of the Government Task Force will be to evaluate the County government in its current form and to compare that to the needs and desires of residents in our community.
The question for cityhood is not just whether a city is feasible, but also whether it is desirable. In addition to the topics referenced, it would consider whether the current form of government needs to be reformed and, if so, in what ways. Some of the many questions to answer in this regard are:
- Is the CEO/Commission form of government best-suited to DeKalb?
- What is the impact of Super-District Commissioners on the Board and, in particular, our part of DeKalb?
- Should the Commission be given greater oversight over the Executive Branch (CEO) operations?
These are just some of the issues to be considered.
What impact will the passage of the proposed City of DeKalb have? Would it totally prevent the option to propose City of Lakeside in the future?
If DeKalb County is incorporated and becomes the “City of DeKalb”, it would prevent any community in the “City of DeKalb” from incorporating.
In order to be a success, the new city would need sufficient commercial properties and tax revenue to relieve homeowners from taking on more of the tax burden. Is there sufficient commercial property for this to be a success? Who will be gathering data such as this to assist with analysis of this type?
The tax data will be gathered through requests and open-records requests to the County. The Governmental Task Force of the Alliance will be tasked with analyzing the data.
There are a number of models that can be used to structure a new city. For example, Sandy Springs is more of a full service city versus Peachtree Corners which has “city lite” structure covering planning, development, zoning and solid waste services only. Are all of the options being considered or is that something this group will review and make recommendations on which option(s) might work best?
Yes. Every city must provide at least three services to maintain its charter. The Alliance has proposed Public Safety, Parks & Recreation and Zoning. However, other services could be substituted for these or added to them.
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