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Posts Tagged ‘Georgia’

A message about annexation from Peggy Merriss, City Manager, City of Decatur and Dr. Phyllis Edwards, Superintendent, City Schools of Decatur

The City Schools of Decatur and the City of Decatur are working together to review and analyze implications related to projections of unparalleled student population growth as well as the opportunities and challenges presented by potential annexation.

Why is annexation being considered at this time:

The 2010 Strategic Plan as Part of GOAL 9: EXPAND AND DIVERSIFY THE CITY’S REVENUE BASE, Task 9B states: “Explore annexation opportunities in partnership with the City Schools of Decatur that expand the property tax base and enhance school operations.”

During the 2013 and 2014 sessions of the General Assembly, legislation to create the cities of Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker were considered. Incorporation of these areas would have municipalized the entire northern part of DeKalb County and resulted in placing new cities immediately contiguous to the existing City of Decatur city limits. None of the bills passed.

Currently, the Georgia House Governmental Affairs Committee Chairwoman Amy Carter (R-Valdosta) has issued a statement indicating that DeKalb County cityhood proponents have until November 15, 2014 to submit an agreed upon map and if they do not she will appoint a five-member panel to produce a map by December 31, 2015.

Given the current efforts to municipalize the unincorporated northern area of DeKalb County, the City of Decatur is in a position where long-term permanent city limits must be determined. Once the City is adjacent to another city, annexation is no longer a possibility. In addition to the long-term city limit definition, key objectives of the annexation master plan are to influence and control development at key gateways; expand and stabilize the property tax base; respond to interest from property owners; and, consolidate partial parcels.

Student population growth:

Rapid growth in student enrollment at City Schools of Decatur has been occurring for many years now. The growth in student enrollment has been studied by professional demographic experts and has been a topic of serious conversation at School Board meetings and also at joint meetings with the City Commission. The issue has been publically discussed and publicized through various community meetings and in media outlets. Since 2004, there have been a number of community and parent listening sessions that have taken place to obtain comment and input on the topic.

The City Schools of Decatur and the City of Decatur have contracted with the Sizemore Group to develop demographic projections for school-age population over time from areas identified in the 2014 draft annexation master plan. Those estimates continue to be refined. Preliminary information indicates that without any annexation, student enrollment is expected to increase by approximately 3,000 students. If the areas that are currently included in the draft annexation master plan are annexed, there will be an addition of approximately 580 more students by 2020.
The predicted growth in student enrollment appears to be coming from within the existing city limits. Future enrollment projections take into account current and potential likely future developments within the City. City School staff members are working through the predictions in terms of assuring a high quality education for the students and providing facilities that support an outstanding learning environment.

Facility needs:

City Schools of Decatur have addressed increased enrollments over the past ten years by implementing system-wide master plans that have used proceeds from Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) and from Certificates of Participation (COPs) capital financing for a program of facility renovation, expansion and re-use. Master planning efforts are currently underway for Renfroe Middle School and Decatur High School to accommodate enrollment growth that is almost entirely due to predictions of a larger student age population within the existing city limits.

Staff and consultant teams working with the City Schools and the City of Decatur are assessing service delivery needs and additional facilities will likely be part of any annexation plan. City Schools have already identified that an additional school facility will likely be needed without any annexation. Regretfully, that poses an extreme challenge within the existing city limits where even if there were 6-10 available acres of land, the going price is at, or above, $1million an acre. Part of the analysis of the draft 2014 annexation master plan is to identify possibilities for public facilities, including potential school sites.

Expansion of the tax base:

Another part of the analysis is the implications for adding to, and diversifying, the real property tax base. Both the City Schools of Decatur and the City of Decatur are reviewing the potential revenues and expenditures associated with the draft annexation master plan area. Opportunities to expand the tax base in the long term in order to stabilize and minimize potential future tax increases must be considered and annexation provides an opportunity for that possibility.

Future steps:

There is still a long way to go in the process. Both the City Schools and the City of Decatur are working on the background analysis and review that is needed in order to inform the discussion for the public and the Board of Education and the City Commission.

  • November 3, 2014: City Commission work session at 6:30 p.m. Public hearing during regular City Commission meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Both meetings at Decatur City Hall, 509 N. McDonough St. Live stream of the meetings will be available online here.
  • November 5, 2014: Board of Education work session on enrollment numbers. 6:30 p.m. at City Schools Administrative Office, 125 Electric Ave.
  • November 12, 2014: Joint Work Session with City Commission and Board of Education. 6 p.m. at Decatur City Hall, 509 N. McDonough St.
  • December 1, 2014: Final report released to public.
  • December 9, 2014: Board of Education considers adoption of a resolution regarding the Annexation Master Plan.
  • December 15, 2014: City Commission considers adoption of an annexation resolution.

If the City Commission adopts a plan, then: 

  • January – April, 2015: General Assembly considers and adopts legislation incorporating the annexation request, including authorizing a referendum.

If the General Assembly adopts the legislation and the Governor signs it, then:

  • July, 2015 or in November, 2015: A referendum is held.

If the referendum passes in the affirmative, then:

  • December, 2015: Annexation is effective.
    • June 1, 2016: First Installment tax bills are due.
    • August, 2016: School year begins.

Conclusion:

The process of determining whether or not to move forward with an annexation plan has not been completed. The City Schools and the City are working together because if a plan is adopted, it needs to serve and enhance all of the public needs in the community. Task 9B of Goal 9 of 2010 Strategic Plan is clear: “Explore annexation opportunities in partnership with the City Schools of Decatur that expand the property tax base and enhance school operations.” The question of annexation will not exist in the future – once the area surrounding the existing city limits is part of an incorporated city, there will be no choice and it is very likely that in the next 3-5 years, the City of Decatur will be surrounded by other incorporated cities. IF the past is any indication, the City Schools will continue to face enormous pressures in the next five years and moving forward into the future. Those pressures may not be able to be addressed within the existing city limits so annexation has to be explored.

Peggy Merriss
City Manager, City of Decatur

Dr. Phyllis Edwards

Superintendent, City Schools of Decatur

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Decatur’s Lifelong Community Advisory Board invites the community to complete a survey to help plan the direction for Decatur’s future as a place where people of all ages and resources can live throughout their lifetimes. The board welcomes the community’s input to reach these goals. All Decatur residents, not only senior citizens, may complete the survey here.

The Decatur City Commission created the board to fulfill the goals of the 2010 Strategic Plan, including assuring our city is a safe, healthy and inviting community for all ages. If you prefer to complete a hard copy of the survey or would like more information, contact staff liaison Lee Ann Harvey at leeann.harvey@decaturga.com or call 678-553-6548. The deadline to complete the survey is Friday, November 21, 2014.

city-of-decatur-logo-2in

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All About Developmental Disabilities (AADD) has launched a new advocacy campaign, “HireAbility Georgia,” (http://HireAbilityGA.com) focused on educating employers across the state on the benefits of hiring people with developmental disabilities. The effort will seek to raise awareness of the issue in advance of the 2015 Georgia Legislative Session.

HireAbility Georgia will work to educate employers across the state on the benefits – both to their business and to society at large – of employing individuals with developmental disabilities.

  • Lower Turnover: Pizza Hut reported their turnover rate for people with disabilities was 20 percent, compared to 150 percent among employees without disabilities.
  • Lower Rates of Absenteeism: Workers with developmental disabilities have much lower rates of absenteeism than the average, with many achieving perfect attendance.
  • Job Loyalty: Workers with developmental disabilities typically express positive attitudes towards their employers and coworkers, and much greater than average longevity in jobs.
  • Employee Morale: Many businesses report that hiring someone with a developmental disability increases the sense of teamwork among employees.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Hiring workers with developmental disabilities enhances a company’s image. Consumers prefer to give their business to a company that hires people with developmental disabilities.

The campaign will also educate business owners on the tax advantages available to them including the Small Business Tax Credit, the Transportation/Architectural Tax Deduction and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).

Elements of the advocacy campaign include:

  • website aimed at Georgia employers with human resources information
  • Answers to frequently asked questions
  • Information on available programs, services and best practices
  • At Work Success Stories: Why hiring individuals with developmental disabilities is in the best interest of a business
  • A speakers bureau available to groups statewide, including hiring/HR managers and business owners
  • Training for interested employers
  • Media campaign

Founded in 1956, All About Developmental Disabilities (AADD) is an Atlanta-based non-profit organization dedicated to providing family support, advocacy and training opportunities for individuals and families living with developmental disabilities.  AADD offers a range of services focusing on Family Support, Public Policy and Advocacy and Community Engagement.  For more information, go to www.AADD.org or call 404-881-9777.

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The results of a project researching diversity in the City of Decatur were presented at a City Commission work session in August. The entire work session is archived and can be viewed here.

 The final written report, Findings on the state of diversity in the City of Decatur, is now available as a PDF.

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A Google Fiber installation van (pictured in Kansas City) could be coming to Decatur, Ga.

A Google Fiber installation van (pictured in Kansas City) could be coming to Decatur, Ga.

Yesterday’s announcement of Decatur as one of 34 cities under consideration for the next round of Google Fiber expansion resulted in an outpouring of enthusiasm from residents, business owners and, well, just about everyone. City leaders and staff are busy taking the next steps in the joint planning process, and updates will be posted here as they become available.

Google wants to know that there is grassroots support for Google Fiber in Decatur. Here’s what you can do to help:

1)      Visit https://fiber.google.com/newcities/ and click on the “Get Updates” button. The more people who sign up for updates that live or work in Decatur the better, so be sure to use a City of Decatur address.

2)      On Twitter? Tweet your enthusiasm to @GoogleFiber and @Google using the hashtag #DecaturGA

3)      Express your support on the Google Facebook page in a comment that tags the Downtown Decatur Facebook page.

4)      Follow the Fiber Google+ page.

5)      Get creative! Google has a corporate culture that values forward thinking, so reaching out to the company in creative and innovative ways is encouraged. How would Google Fiber improve your life, your business or the entire Decatur community? Let Google know “Decatur wants Google Fiber!”

The city would like to hear how you creatively told Google “Decatur wants Google Fiber!” Share in the comments or email casie.yoder@decaturga.com

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Polar bears photographed by the NOAA's National Ocean Service (not in Decatur)

Polar bears photographed by the NOAA’s National Ocean Service (not in Decatur)

UPDATE: Please bring a lunch for each child you drop off at Polar Camp.

It’s still really cold out, and City Schools of Decatur will be closed tomorrow. For City of Decatur residents looking for something for the little polar bears (aka children) to do, there will be a special Polar Camp tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Decatur Recreation Center, 231 Sycamore St.

Polar Camp is first-come, first served for a limited number of City of Decatur students in Kindergarten through fifth grade only. There is no cost for Polar Camp for Decatur residents. Parents will need to fill out registration and health forms when dropping off campers who are not already enrolled in after school programs.

For more information, please call Children and Youth Services at 404-378-1082.

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It’s cold out today in Decatur and set to get colder by evening, but tonight’s work session about the draft tree ordinance at 6 p.m. and the regular City Commission meeting at 7:30 p.m. will still take place as scheduled at Decatur City Hall, 509 N. McDonough St.

Don’t feel like braving the weather but want to see what happens? You can live stream both meetings on the City of Decatur website’s City Commission page by clicking on “streaming video.”

The Decatur City Commission

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storm waterWeather permitting, Reeves Contracting plans to start installing the new storm sewer on Church Street south of East Maple on January 2.  The new storm sewer will extend from East Maple down Church Street towards the CSX railroad and then east on East Howard Avenue.

Businesses on Church Street between East Maple Street and East Howard Avenue should notify patrons that once work begins, traffic will be limited to one-way in the southbound direction, so they will have to approach this area from East Trinity Place.

On-street parking on Church Street will be limited in the immediate area of construction. A schematic plan illustrating temporary traffic changes can be viewed here.

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