Despite facing a budgetary “hollow tree” that fell last year, damaging the county’s financial house, DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis said the state of the county is “strong.”
“Through hard work, decisive action and collaborative effort, we were able to hoist the tree, repair the damage, restore credit and save the house,” said Ellis on Jan. 5 during his annual State of the County address before county business leaders.
“Today the house stands strong and the state of DeKalb County is good,” Ellis said.
In his address, Ellis said DeKalb is threatened by those who support the cityhood movement and would “exploit our rich diversity in an effort to divide our county.”
“It is a fundamental right for our citizens to choose more government and pay a premium for heightened levels of service, but it is wrong to impact others who have no voice,” Ellis said.
Cityhood “places an undue tax burden on those who are drawn outside of arbitrarily created boundaries and have no say in the process,” Ellis said.
Better policy is needed to stop the movement’s “social isolation, class and ethnic stratification.”
“We need laws that prevent the cherry-picking of the choicest residential and commercial areas, while disenfranchising residents in the remainder of the county,” Ellis said. “We need laws which respect the costs of services to our citizens in both cities and counties.”
Ellis said the proposed penny sales tax referendum that goes to voters this year is an opportunity for the DeKalb to get a “great return on our investment…given DeKalb County’s 40-year support of the MARTA tax.”
“This is a regional stimulus plan, and that’s why it is so important that we pass this transportation referendum,” Ellis said. “We have much at stake in the transportation referendum.”
To help pass the referendum and to help re-elect President Barack Obama, Ellis said he would “visit every corner in this county to discuss the importance of voting and registering new voters.”