In anticipation of Georgia General Assembly convening in January, Residents in East Atlanta suburbs and the Gresham area met on Dec 20, 2015 the weekend before Christmas to express their opposition to the creation of the city of Greenhaven in South DeKalb and share their concerns and ideas. The chair of the organization Citizens Against Cityhood in DeKalb, Ed Williams addressed concerned citizens and answered some questions. The residents wanted to know what they could do to make their voices heard and how to Opt out of the proposed city boundary. There is an online petition to express opposition to being included in the city boundary, however the law does not allow a process to be withdrawn beyond expressing your opposition directly to state representatives.
During the meeting residents shared their ideas on how to move forward in opposition of cityhood in South DeKalb. The residents were concerned that they would end up with two layers of government and likely a weakened county government and depressed property values with higher property taxes in the end. Two major factors that are related to property values are schools and crime. Neither of the two services, schools and police will be offered or by the proposed new cities, Stonecrest or Greenhaven.
The group Citizens Against Cityhood in DeKalb is not in favor of the proposed city of Stonecrest or the city of Greenhaven being created. Many of the residents that attended the meeting expressed that their neighbors and the business community do not even know about these cityhood efforts in their communities. There are existing cities in DeKalb like Stone Mountain and Lithonia that have very little economic growth or development. There are six cities near the airport that have little to no economic growth or development. A plan does not mean action.
The proponents of the proposed city of Greenhaven have not presented a credible model or rational economic plan for the proposed new cities. The resident expressed concerns about the lack of an economic plan from the proponents of cityhood in South DeKalb. The question was asked in regards to how the proposed new cities will address crime without a police department. In addition the residents wanted to know more about the operating costs and the tax base that the proposed cities would rely on as a revenue source including franchise fees.
The residents also expressed during the meeting that much more information is needed, and a lot more residents needed to be made aware of the cityhood proposals before any vote is held. The real costs of the operating the proposed cities are not reflected in their feasibility studies because the feasibility studies were only done for 3 services, Parks and Recreation, Zoning and Code enforcement, All the other services will have to be provided by intergovernmental service arrangements from the County and/or by a private firm at additional costs. Less known fact, once a city is created a County cannot provide municipal services to a city without an intergovernmental agreement.
Citizens Against Cityhood in DeKalb believe that residents should know what they are voting for or against before they are asked to vote. We believe that the process should be reformed. Residents should know all the facts and the truth before a referendum is placed on the ballot. Instead of adding more cities, the number of county commissioners should be increased and term limits should be considered. Citizens Against Cityhood in DeKalb believes that it should not be easier to create a city than to recall a politician.