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DeKalb lawmakers talk cityhood, school board
by LaTria Garnigan
December 10, 2013 10:36 AM | 2600 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last week the reorganization of the government of DeKalb County, the school board and cityhood were the hot topics of local legislators.

The DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce hosted a 2014 legislative preview featuring District 86 State Rep. Michele Henson, D-Stone Mountain, District 90 State Rep. Howard Mosby, D-Atlanta, District 41 State Sen. Steve Henson, D-Tucker and District 40 State Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody.

Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May has hosted several listening sessions on the topic of reorganizing the county government and the different options that were available. Both Mosby and Millar said it is not likely a discussion on county reorganization would come up in next year’s legislative session. Discussions have centered on removing the CEO position, which May has supported, in earlier statements.

“The delegation does not want to make this a knee-jerk process,” said Mosby. “We will probably take our time with this. We want to bring the county in and an expert to look at what is the best practice.”

Henson said citizens want to see change, but do not know what change can be made.

“I don’t see a change this year,” she said. “I don’t want to see us do things in a hurry. I would like to wait a year.”

Earlier this year, Gov. Nathan Deal suspended and replaced six of the nine school board members after a report of allegations of fiscal mismanagement and governance issues that left the school system’s accreditation in question.

“Is the school system doing well now? Yes,” said Henson. “We need stability. I’m interested to see if the folks currently up there would be willing to put themselves up as candidates [in next year’s school board elections].”

Henson added there needs to be more transparency with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, whose report spearheaded the suspension of the board members. She said what SACS does affects the county and added its members are not elected.

Mosby said that SACS putting the district on probation and the governor removing the school board members might have been heavy-handed.

“We need an intermediary step or some group to govern SACS,” he said.

With several groups hosting community meetings on possible new municipalities in the county — Lakeside, Tucker and Briarcliff — Millar said he thinks the cityhood movement, which began in Fulton County, is here to stay.

Henson added it is important to sit down and have an honest conversation on the topic.

“I’ve dealt with cityhood a lot longer than I’ve wanted to,” said Henson. “Everyone wants prime property. There is a huge portion of unincorporated DeKalb County that won’t be in the new cities and I want to know how the rest of the county will survive.”

Mosby agreed that county legislators need to be strategic about the future of the county.

“Cities are an expensive answer to the community’s discussion about services,” he said.

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