By Nancy Jester, District 1 Commissioner
I had the honor of speaking to the Doraville City Council last week. I want to thank Mayor Donna Pittman and the Council for the opportunity to update the city and residents on the latest news from the DeKalb Board of Commissioners (BOC). As District 1 is nearly entirely made up of cities, I feel that it is very important to have an open, working relationship with each municipality as they are major stakeholders in the county. The council members asked some excellent questions and I welcomed them to reach out to my office anytime with questions or ongoing issues in DeKalb.
The county’s annual budget will be voted on by the board at the end of this month. At this point, I will be voting against the administration’s proposed budget. I do not support the fact that the county portion of millage rates will increase for every city in District 1, while unincorporated DeKalb will have the same millage rate as last year. The driving factor behind these millage increases is the county’s general fund which is proposed to increase by an additional point. I am not happy with the structure of this budget and the county knows my feelings regarding this point. My hope is that the cities will share my concerns by writing to my fellow Commissioners, the CEO, and the DeKalb Municipal Association (DMA).
Septic to Sewer Petition Process
Significant portions of DeKalb County still have homes on septic systems. The cost for residents to connect to the county sewer system has been inordinately expensive and there were no good means to get streets or neighborhoods connected to sewer without costing homeowner many thousands of dollars. It is in the county’s best interest to move more residents away from septic tanks and on to county sewage. And having more customers on sewage means more revenue at a time when we so desperately need to enhance our infrastructure. After a nearly 18 month process, we were finally able to amend our sewer ordinance to cap the fee of connecting to the county sewer system at $7500 per household to be paid over a 10 year period on the homeowner’s tax bill. This cost will not cover the lateral connection on the owner’s property, but we are working on a grant program that could help offset this expense. The process for a street or neighborhood to get on county sewage is a petition process, and our first petition has been completed. So we now have our first “test” case of how this new program will work.
The BOC has passed a new ordinance imposing some new regulations on extended stay motels. We have restricted the number of consecutive days a room can be leased to an individual, required increased security measures to be implemented, and mandated that the owners of extended stay properties to adhere to better record keeping. The proliferation of extended stay motels in DeKalb is a quality of life issue that affects us all. We worked very diligently with the local hotel and motel owners to craft this legislation. I believe it will be a benefit to everyone.
One of the BOC’s last actions of 2017 was to change pouring hours at late night establishments. As of the first of this year, the hours of operation at these establishments have been cut back to put our unincorporated areas of the county on par with the serving times in most cities. Unfortunately there were a few bad bar owners who were abusing their late night status and were staying open well past their 4:00 closing time. Additionally, some of these bars were causing quality of life issues for neighbors living near these clubs. Curtailing serving hours will not stop the bad owners from continuing to break the law, but we must remain vigilant with our code enforcement department to ensure that everyone is following the letter of the law.