DEKALB COUNTY, GA, January 2, 2014 – by Staff Reports – The DeKalb Government Operations Task Force met for the final time on December 19 and made a series of recommendations regarding the future of DeKalb County.
Meeting since June, The Operations Task Force was established by an Executive Order by Interim CEO Lee May to explore and study (1) the financial, business, zoning and quality of life impact on residents and government operations caused by the creation of new cities and annexations; (2) the effectiveness of the current governance structure of DeKalb County and ethics and transparency in County operations; (3) the equitable distribution of Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST) proceeds and legacy pension costs between the DeKalb County and it’s cities; and (4) other related matters.
Below are their recommendations:
1) The OTF recommends that the DeKalb County delegation to the General Assembly should establish a Charter Review Commission comprised of non-elected citizens nominated by established businesses and civic interest groups in DeKalb County. The Charter Review Commission should review the Organizational Act of DeKalb County, with sufficient funding to retain its own staff and have 18 months to complete its work.
2) The OTF recommends the Code of Ethics within the Organizational Act should be amended to include a number of changes, such as the appointment of Ethics Board members by outside organizations, and elimination of the Board’s ability to remove elected officials. However, the Board should be granted the authority to impose stiff fines and penalties and hire their own staff.
3) The OTF recommends the Board of Commissioners establish an independent Department of Internal Audit, which shall conduct performance audits to measure the effectiveness, economy, and efficiency of the various departments, offices, boards, agencies, and programs of the county government on a continual basis.
4) The OTF recommends DeKalb County adopt a purchasing policy that would be adopted by the Board of Commissioners for all county departments, offices, and agencies of county government subject to the jurisdiction of the county governing authority, subject to a veto by the CEO. The OTF recommends Interim CEO’s revised policy should be used as the basis for a new policy.
5) The OTF recommends a special property tax levy should be imposed in a special service district that encompasses unincorporated DeKalb, which would fund the current unfunded actuarial accrued pension liability. Furthermore, the OTF recommends an independent actuary should be employed by DeKalb County to determine the magnitude of the unfunded liability caused by the creation of the cities of Dunwoody and Brookhaven.
6) The OTF recommends the current structure of the Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST) will be applied to all Homesteaded properties in the county. Currently, its only applied to homes in unincorporated DeKalb. In addition, DeKalb County should propose the adoption of a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). The General Assembly should be asked to authorize the county to adopt another penny sales tax to allow the adoption of a SPLOST, subject to referendum.
The 15 member Operations Task Force was as follows:
- Commissioner Jeff Rader, District 2
- Commissioner Sharon Barnes-Sutton, District 4
- Commissioner Stan Watson, District 7
- State Senator Gloria Butler
- Candidate for State Senator and former State Representative Elena Parent
- State Representative Karla Drenner
- State Representative Billy Mitchell
- David L. Sjoquist, Professor of Economics and Director of Domestic Programs at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies Georgia State University
- Bill Floyd, Former Mayor of Decatur
- Jim Grubiak, General Counsel, Association of County Commissioners
- John Shelton, CEO of DeKalb Medical Center
- Jim McMahan, Vice Chair, DeKalb County Board of Education
- Vaughn Irons, Chairman of the Development Authority of DeKalb County
- Patrick Ejike, Director Community Development Department, Clayton County Board of Commissioners
- April Atkins, AICP; Community Affairs Specialist
“This was a very open and transparent process which brought key stakeholders from the community together to reach a consensus on many issues that affect our government that will continue the journey of reform and the restoration of the public’s trust,” said Interim CEO Lee May. “We are indebted to the members of the task force for their tireless dedication to this cause.”
According to the County, a final report of these recommendations will be forwarded to the General Assembly for their consideration during the 2015 legislative session.
* Portions of this Post are from a County Press Release reformatted for publication