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The city charter for Stonecrest can be viewed at http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20152016/SB/208
No, Stonecrest would be the most important layer of government!
"Just another layer of government" is merely a popular political cliché used as a distraction. Historically speaking, our country has always observed the following hierarchy for the way Americans are governed:
Federal > State > County > Municipal (City)
Nothing new there, yet that is something anti-city advocates are counting on you not knowing. By definition, Municipalities are charged with public administration of a locality's affairs and addresses the concerns of its citizens; Counties are the largest political subdivision within a state and largely function to administer state laws; States manage the sovereignty of Municipalities by sharing political power with the Federal government; and the Federal government is responsible for preserving our rights as citizens and shares power with the States as enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. This approach has worked effectively for over 225 years. The City of Stonecrest is the natural municipalization of our community that is long overdue. As evidenced by new cities recently established in DeKalb County (i.e., Brookhaven, Dunwoody, and Tucker), there is definitely a social and economic benefit to be realized by the City of Stonecrest.
Engaged citizens want to conduct business with a smaller government, not a bloated, inefficient government. The most immediate benefit of a local city government is the much smaller size of districts. Did you know that each DeKalb County district has over 140,000 residents being represented by one county commissioner? In contrast, the City of Stonecrest will have just 52,000 residents divided into 5 city districts, so there will be one city council member each representing just over 10,000 citizens, not 140,000.
The purpose for the City of Stonecrest is to bring a smaller and more responsive government to its citizens, which equates to much more responsive representation. In other words, the result is a set of elected city council members who are far more familiar with the constituents within each district because they will be your neighbors. Engaged citizens of Stonecrest will have a bigger voice within a much smaller government to better empower its citizens. When local governments are closest to the people - that's always a good thing.
For these reasons a new city government wouldn't’t be “just another layer of government”; it would be the most important layer of government, because that's the one that represents you and your family’s best interests, and the economic future of our area.
YES for Stonecrest City Citizens and for the foreseeable future. Senior Tax Exemptions in the City of Stonecrest will be awarded along with the county exemptions - just as in a number of other cities in DeKalb County. There is currently no plan to separate either the application process nor the exemptions themselves from established DeKalb County processes and procedures. Any deviation from the current structure would have to pass a vote of the city council and be approved by voters of a City of Stonecrest.
Regarding Senior Tax Exemptions awarded by DeKalb County, this is accurate according to how things stand now. This is definitely a local choice. Other cities honor the general exemptions, but there are local rules and limits in place. Brookhaven grants all of the same exemptions as DeKalb and has no local apparatus for either applications or administration of tax exemptions. We can't promise that this will never change with the county since county tax exemptions are under county control.
That's always been part of the bill. (Click to see SB 208, Line 1542)
The City would be obliged to adhere to the state's Sunshine Laws as well as Open Records Laws. The government would be closer to you than the county government (1:10,000 vs 1:140,000) and therefore more accountable to individual voters and neighborhoods than a county Commissioner ever has to be. You as a citizen would be the control. We understand this is an important topic so we will give it the attention it deserves here.
Branding a new city as being good economically for business is the reputation we aspire towards. A reputation of corruption is the absolute last thing a new city needs. There is no growth potential in corruption as evidenced by governments where you have actually seen corruption. There is no line item in the proposed budget to readily use tax payer dollars to fund a department specifically dedicated to counteract corruption. To start off with such a department presumes there will be corruption needing to be counteracted. The whole idea behind a Stonecrest government is for the people to actually get involved in it, not just watch and hope for the best.
Nevertheless let's discuss corruption and why we think it is important to empower citizens.
It is ordinary citizens who bear the brunt of corruption, have direct experience of it, and suffer from it. However, they also have power and can use it to fight corruption.
There are two main approaches to fighting corruption: the top-down approach and the bottom-up approach. The top-down approach has to do with developing and naturalizing new rules, institutions, and norms that target the “public administrative graft.” The primary weakness of this approach, however, is that the very institutions accused of corruption are responsible for enacting change. So it is always going to be not a good idea to ask for tax payers to pay for an anti-corruption department controlled by any government. Those benefiting from corruption are much less likely to end it than those suffering from corruption. That is why this dialogue emphasizes the importance of the bottom-up, or grassroots, approach, which requires the mobilization of ordinary citizens. A large, united public outcry provides the force of change that reformed infrastructure alone can’t.
There are multiple ways in which civilians can apply pressure to the higher-ups. The main way to do this is by exerting their civic power and utilizing civil resistance and nonviolent tactics.
A key part of the process of empowerment is education. Citizens who are better informed of the corruption within their political systems are able to fight corruption more effectively as well as develop their own strategies to do so. It is also extremely important to educate people about their rights, especially those who have limited access to such information. Our position from the beginning has been to empower our community!
Franchise fees are essentially rental compensation by private utility companies (Georgia Power, phone company, gas companies, cable, etc.) for use of a city’s public rights‐of‐way. Our CVI study estimates Stonecrest City could collect $3,842,567.00 in franchise fees. The huge advantage to becoming a city is that while cities can collect franchise fees, a county cannot! Many newly formed cities follow and leverage this model. It's our turn! A new city empowers our community with the opportunity to tap into this revenue stream to directly benefit citizens in the Stonecrest footprint.
In the first CVI study, our initial goal was to have a police department. Unfortunately, the numbers were such that the expense of a police department was not economically feasible for the new city. This doesn't mean a city police department is off the table. Here's our approach to public safety:
Establish local and more responsive code enforcement for safer communities to enhance the quality of life in our neighborhoods
Create a city-based zoning board for local control over residential, commercial, and industrial construction and growth
Provide enhanced security in business and industrial areas with the Stonecrest Community
Community Improvement District (CID) which will be funded by local business tax revenues
Enhance current police services with surplus revenues and create a path towards the establishment of the City of Stonecrest Police Department
We have a path to get us there. We recognize public safety is of paramount concern to the community, businesses and retail areas at Stonecrest Mall. We also recognize the challenges DeKalb County Police face currently with being understaffed and overextended. As with improvements in the areas of education and economics, safety is also very important for a new city to address.
Some History - Public Safety has ALWAYS been a top priority since the beginning of the Stonecrest City effort to incorporate. Did you know originally, Police Services were part of the initial bill and first Fiscal Feasibility Study done back in 2014 for the proposed City of Stonecrest? Unfortunately, that study failed in part due to the expense associated with setup of a brand new police department, and the size of population (80,000 residents and 60 sq. miles) needing to be covered by this service. Establishing a city police force is one of the most expensive budgetary expenditures any city could take on. Doing so initially would have made a balanced budget impossible with the originally proposed population and geographical coverage area.
It should be noted that all recently formed cities did not actually start off with police services. That is not mandated by state law. Even the new city of Brookhaven took just under two years after passing with inclusive police services, to actually fully establish their own police department.
Smaller But Smarter - Given the current revenue constraints of our area, here’s the path we’d like to take as a new city. As with all new cities, DeKalb County will continue to provide police services to Stonecrest City for the time being. The advantage today to becoming a city/municipality is Stonecrest City would have the ability to form intergovernmental agreements with the county for enhanced police services in our communities, local businesses, and the mall area. Becoming a city is also an important stepping stone on the path of eventually forming a Stonecrest City police department. Per city charter, we would begin with three services (Parks and Rec, Zoning, and Code Enforcement), however the city is by no means limited to just those services forever. With an almost $2 Million projected budget surplus and additional revenue sources, access to $40 Million in SPLOST funds leveraged by other new cities, plus additional other revenue sources - we anticipate the budgetary flexibility to move forward to establish a dedicated city police force in the future.
A new city makes this path possible for our area to enhance public safety beyond what we currently experience as an unincorporated area of the county. Incorporating Stonecrest City is the way to direct our tax dollars (i.e., property taxes, sales taxes, hotel/motel taxes, etc.) back into our city for use on community, infrastructure, commercial, industrial improvements, and public safety.
The city will purchase from DeKalb County a total of nine public parks and recreational amenities, as a one-time expenditure.
We have one of the most beautiful areas in metropolitan Atlanta for safe and vibrant communities. Within the Stonecrest footprint are 2,674.7 acres of parks, recreational centers, fields and walking trails. Our green-space features sprawling vistas of unmatched beauty in our Arabia Mountain Park (see map), a state designated National Heritage area. Arabia Mountain Park also includes miles of PATH trails with natural scenery fantastic for year-round walking, hiking, and biking.
Zoning, Parks and Recreation, and Code Enforcement.
The City will provide the aforementioned services and the DeKalb County will continue to provide services such as watershed management, hospital, police, fire, and the court system.
This is the same path many new metro cities have already taken. To question the sound judgment approach and credibility of our fiscal feasibility study, means to also call into question the practices of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government as well as legislative standards put forward by the Georgia State Assembly. The Stonecrest Yes Committee stood by our first CVI study when it was determined initially a new city of previously proposed size & budget would not be financially feasible. We made adjustments in city size and services for the second study. Those adjustments produced a favorable result.
The following cities used the Carl Vinson Institute for their Fiscal Feasibility Studies - in fact some on more than one occasion depending on pass or fail. They are either already established or well on their way to being so:
City of Dunwoody
City of Brookhaven
City of Peachtree Corners
Feel free to review each of those studies by clicking.
We want a zoning overlay to protect the residential areas from inappropriate development, including new subdivisions that are too dense or whose price points are too low. We would be looking to support future smart quality construction.
Flexibility is the key. What works for commercial does not work for heavy or light industrial. We envision a fresh new ordinance policy for both areas that encompass the input of the stakeholders in each area. The advantage of starting a new city is that the given stakeholders have an opportunity to develop the correct ordinances “up front”, and have regular input into its creation and development of policies. We will establish a separate planning district and commission for the industrial and commercial area.
3120 Stonecrest Blvd.
Stonecrest, GA 30038
770 224 - 0200
770 224 - 0200