By Nancy Jester, DeKalb County District 1 Commissioner
The new year is here and we are well under way. Hopefully everyone is still adhering to those new year’s resolutions. I’m working on my own, but one I’d like to announce is that I’ll be starting a new public speaking tour initiative. I will be presenting a “DeKalb Board of Commissioners Update” during various city council meetings around District 1.
My first presentation will be at the Doraville city council meeting this Monday, February 5th at 6:30 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers. City Hall is located at 3725 Park Avenue in Doraville. I hope you will be able to attend and look forward to meeting and speaking with as many of you as possible.
Also, as we enter into the month of February, our annual county budget is a hot topic at hand. The CEO’s budget office has presented the 2018 budget to your board of commissioners for a vote which will happen at the end of this month. Unfortunately, my initial review of this year’s budget is not very favorable. One issue I have noted is that every city in DeKalb County has a proposed millage rate increase. Obviously, I have a real problem with this as the majority of District 1 is municipalized with only a small portion that is not. If you’re in unincorporated DeKalb, you will see an unchanged millage rate; the same as you were assessed last year. But to have a millage rate increase in every city is very disappointing to me particularly when the voters of DeKalb have just passed a one cent sales tax increase.
The increase in city millage rates is contributing to a significant General Fund balance increase in the proposed 2018 budget. For the record, we all pay into the General Fund; cities and county alike. City residents do NOT get more services from the General Fund than do unincorporated residents. The only reason the aggregated unincorporated millage rate isn’t going up is because DeKalb County is bleeding public safety by cutting the millage rates of the Police and Fire Funds. This hurts the county’s public safety presence in unincorporated DeKalb and places continual strains on our police and fire departments. Public safety is one of many battles we are waging in DeKalb and lowering the Police and Fire millage rates just does not seem to be a proper approach.
The millage rate increase on cities is ridiculous, especially considering that the tax digest has increased AND voters approved a SPLOST. The sales tax and millage rate increase together in 2018 is inexcusable. Residents will have a chance to speak out on the proposed budget. In addition to our regular board meetings, we will hold our February 20th Committee of the Whole meeting in the evening and public comment will be made available for those who cannot make our morning meetings. The special evening meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Maloof Auditorium in Decatur. Future evening meetings will be held at various sites around the county and I will announce those dates and locations as soon as I receive them.
Finally, I hope everyone has a terrific week ahead and enjoys the big game tonight. If your group or organization has an event that you would like highlighted please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling my office at 404-371-2844.
Illegal Bus Operations in Embry Hills
County crackdown to continue
I have received numerous reports from residents in the district regarding Illegal bus depots operating in their neighborhoods without proper permits, certificates, or zoning. Bus companies that operate illegally often do not have proper insurance, conduct background checks for employees or perform regular safety inspections on their vehicles. They are breaking the law and potentially putting you and your property at risk.
Over the last few months, DeKalb code enforcement has been focusing on Wanda Travel, one of several illegal bus companies running out of our area. Several citations have been issued, but the company has persisted in operating illegally. A court date that was set for January 30th has been rescheduled for February 20 at 2:00 p.m.
The court date was re-set due to additional citations that were issued to the defendants outside of the courthouse on January 30th for continued violation of operating a “Bus Depot” without a special land use permit. These additional violations and citations include:
1. c/s 033436 written for failure to cease operation of bus loading without being approved (violations date of Jan 6th)
My office will continue to follow this case closely and report any updates to you as they become available. In the meantime, if you witness any other “bus companies” in the area, you may check the validity of their operation by searching their name in this database.