The city says it is studying the annexation as part of its 2010 Strategic Plan that calls for it to expand, stabilize and diversify its revenue base; influence and control development at key gateways; respond to interest from property owners; and consolidate partial parcels.
Among the 800 parcels being targeted for annexation are the Midway area of the county and the United Methodist Children’s Home on Columbia Drive, up the road from the Memorial Drive Walmart.
Both the City Schools of Decatur and the City Commission have committees analyzing the draft annexation plan.
At an Oct. 22 public hearing, residents in the targeted areas were either starkly for or against the plan.
Those opposed to the plan included seniors on fixed income who said incorporation into the city would increase their taxes. Those supporting the annexation were interested in getting into Decatur City Schools, getting sidewalks, code enforcement and services they say the county is not providing.
Ann Waleston said she didn’t want to be annexed into the city because of its higher taxes.
“I don’t feel I can afford to take on the city of Decatur taxes,” she said. “How many people making under $100,000 can afford to take on 50 percent more in taxes,” she said.
Denise Walton said the area has a lot of seniors and asked if the option exists for them to defer their taxes until their house is sold.
Albert Shepherd, who has lived on McKinnon Drive in the Midway Woods area since 1988, said that 13, or 69 percent, of the 19 property owners on his zone don’t want to be annexed into the city.
“Many live on fixed income,” he said. “This will cause them to lose their homes. There are many wonderful properties for sale in the city. Those who want to be in the city should buy there and not force a hostile takeover of McKinnon Drive.”
Claire Lauderdale said that she is for annexation and the issue should be put to the vote.
Business and commercial property owners found out they will not have a vote in the referendum, and if annexation succeeds the current uses of properties would be grandfathered in until the business ceases operation.
To questions about the city’s financial state, Peggy Merriss, Decatur city manager, said it has AA-plus credit rating and strong fund balance. Merriss said the city’s credit rating increased during the economic downturn, its Reserve Fund Balance is 75 percent, and its property values are higher in 2012 than they were in 2008.
“They are up 3 percent in 2012,” she said. “Our financials are very stable. Our financial picture is very healthy.”
The City Commission’s final work session and public hearing into annexation takes place Dec. 3. The commission will vote on Dec. 17. If the plan is adopted, it will go to the General Assembly for consideration and authorization and will be on the Nov. 5, 2013, ballot.
If approved by voters, the annexation takes effect on Dec. 15, 2013, and the first installment of the taxes would be due June 1, 2014.
Decatur is the latest city to form or take slices of the county, which no longer has a say in whether cities can expand by annexations.In July, Brookhaven, the county’s newest and largest city, was approved by voters. On the Nov. 6 ballot, Chamblee residents will vote on annexing a chunk of the county.
For more information, visit http://www.decaturga.com/index.aspx?page=660.