There may be a reason for residents of DeKalb County to consider voting for another layer of government, but it is not the nonsense presented by Rep. Mike Jacobs in his op-ed on cityhood. Any eighth grade history student knows the American Revolution was conceived on the flawed principle of taxation without representation. What we have here is exploitation of current state law based on bad public policy. This is why:
When choice commercial and residential properties are usurped into newly proposed cities, it increases the tax burden for everyone who is left outside of the city limits. This is actually a more accurate application of Jacobs’ analogy. The citizens and businesses of DeKalb who will shoulder the cost (i.e. increased tax burden) of a new city cannot vote on it under current law. That’s taxation without representation.
The current law also creates economic classism and dilutes the voting strength of minorities. It moves us as a county and region further away from the “beloved community” that our native son, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., often advocated.
It is wrong to mislead residents into thinking that somehow their taxes will go down if they create a new city. Ask any newly created city, revenues are always over-estimated and expenses are underestimated. It is time to tell the truth to our citizens—if the referendum passes, residents of Ashford/Brookhaven will pay more in property taxes than they do right now.
It is also a tactic of Rep. Jacobs to bring out the “wasteful government” boogeyman. Let’s examine the facts: Since 2009, I have cut spending by $130 million and the overall operating budget has declined from $636 million to $559 million. We are working with 1,000 fewer employees than we had in 2008, and maintaining the same levels of government services. We are the most efficient government of its size, anywhere.
State lawmakers should address the inequity in the law that pits cities against counties and neighbors against neighbors. Let us work on those things that bind us together as ONE DeKalb, as one beloved community. Rep. Jacobs’ divisive rhetoric harkens back to a time and era that this state, region and nation have long since rejected.”
Burrell Ellis is the CEO of DeKalb County.