Greenhaven group puts lawmakers on notice

Kathryn Rice

It’s ironic how roles have changed. 

Back in 2008 when Dunwoody formed and 2013 when Brookhaven formed, the reasons given to those residents to support forming a city was that their tax dollars were going to South DeKalb. Well, now it’s 2018 and the tide has reversed. South DeKalb is now the ATM for North DeKalb. 

In short, this year (2018) HOST (Homestead Option Sales Tax) for which we paid 1 percent sales tax on items we purchased was replaced by two separate taxes:

- E-HOST - the same 1 percent as HOST but calculated and distributed differently, and

- SPLOST - an additional 1 percent for infrastructure costs (see diagram). 

In both taxes, unincorporated residents lost in comparison to incorporated cities in DeKalb County.

Unincorporated DeKalb residents used to have an advantage when HOST funds were distributed because HOST calculations were based on the county millage rate. Unincorporated DeKalb had the highest county millage rate. However, under the Equalized (that’s what E stands for) E-HOST that replaced HOST, the calculations were changed so that city residents got more HOST funds while unincorporated residents remained the same. Unincorporated residents lose their advantage in the new E-HOST and as a result get less of the HOST pie than what they had before. 

SPLOST has unincorporated residents at a disadvantage as well. Though we now have a whole pot of money (an additional 1 percent) to go towards infrastructure, unincorporated residents have to share their money with cities, while city residents do not share their SPLOST revenue with residents in unincorporated DeKalb.

Does this seem right? Help me understand why this is OK with residents of unincorporated DeKalb. Why are unincorporated residents willing to be an ATM for incorporated DeKalb?

Help me understand why we (unincorporated residents) are willing to sit still while all around us development is occurring but not one “crane” development (meaning the development is big or tall enough that a crane is needed) is occurring in South DeKalb. 

Help me understand why residents of South DeKalb have put 1 percent into a MARTA sales tax and studies and assessments were done to build rail down I-20 but to date, there is no rail nor any planned rail for most of South DeKalb.

Help me understand why we residents of unincorporated DeKalb are not holding our leaders accountable to ensure that we have growth, new buildings, new businesses, rent-a-bikes, rent-a-scooters, tiny homes, sustainable buildings, convention centers, stadiums, commercial centers and so forth.

Help me understand why residents of South DeKalb want to remain unincorporated when forming a city means no raise in taxes but a revenue income of $258 million over six years from SPLOST that would be dedicated just to South DeKalb.

Finally, help me understand why you, residents of unincorporated South DeKalb, are sitting by allowing elected officials to deny you your right to vote and you’re doing nothing about it. It's time to take action!

Hello. Hello. Hello. Is anyone home? I need someone to help me understand. 

– Dr. Kathryn Rice is an organizer of the proposed city of Greenhaven.