The county’s legislative delegates disagree on the issue of getting rid of DeKalb’s CEO form of government.
“The CEO form of government stinks and it needs to go by the wayside,” said Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-80) during the 2012 legislative preview forum held by the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 16.
“I don’t like it and I will vote in a heartbeat for a bill to put a referendum on the ballot to move to a county manager form of government,” Jacobs said. “But I don’t think that that solves all of what ills DeKalb County.”
For example, DeKalb leaders still need the “political will that seems to be lacking to right-size this county government,” said Jacobs, referencing a Georgia State University study that concluded that the county has too many positions.
The county’s Board of Commissioners is considering a resolution that would ask the state legislature to form a charter commission to study changing the county’s CEO-commission form of government to a county manager form in which a manager would be hired and accountable to the Board of Commissioners.
Sen. Fran Millar (R-40), said he believes the county has the best group of commissioners its ever had.
“But when they do something that’s right, because the CEO is separate and distinct, he can just ignore it,” Miller said. “And that’s basically what he’s done.”
Millar said the first thing CEO Burrell Ellis did when elected was to move out of the building shared with the board of commissioners.
“The CEO of the county has a separate office [building],” Millar said. “I go through more security to see him than I would to see the president of the United States. My point [is] if you have that kind of relationship, no matter what the legislative body says they want to accomplish, the CEO [can choose] to ignore it.”
Other delegates were more supportive of keeping the CEO form of government.
“I don’t have a big problem with the form of government,” said Sen. Steve Henson (D-41). “There are problems with a lot of forms of government. People don’t want to really face some of the tough issues of government. They want to point to a cure-all.”
Rep. Howard Mosby (D-90) said county leaders need to look at addressing what is not working in the current form of government.
“I think that any form of government we decide to have as a community we can make work if we are going to be the leaders that we were elected to be,” Mosby said.
On the subject of the movement to incorporate Brookhaven, Jacobs said his top legislative priority for the upcoming General Assembly session beginning in January is Brookhaven cityhood “because of the number of people who have invested a tremendous amount of effort to the issue where it is today.”
Jacobs said that some of the movement’s discontent goes back to the county’s most recent tax increase.
“The question for citizens is whether they feel like they’re getting their money’s worth,” said Jacobs, who supports the proposed city. “It’s not necessarily about specific services.”
Millar, who also supports Brookhaven’s cityhood, agreed that the move to incorporate Brookhaven has been fueled by a sense of frustration after the county’s “largest millage increase.”
“My only issue is what the final borders would be,” Millar said. “I am absolutely for the concept.”
Henson is on the other side of the issue.
“I have concerns about this municipalization,” Henson said. “I want to make sure there is a comprehensive look at the situation. Personally, I’m not in favor of Brookhaven incorporating.
“I would need a lot of information before I saw the benefits even to the people of Brookhaven, let alone the unincorporated areas outside the [proposed] city,” Henson said. “If the citizens really want it then we just need to look at how we can integrate that with the county as a whole.”