Citizens want DeKalb road repairs funded with sales tax


Money raised from a proposed DeKalb County sales tax should primarily go toward repaving hundreds of miles of bumpy, pothole-ridden roads, according to a list of proposed projects approved Wednesday by a citizen panel.

The citizens also said money should be dedicated to replacing run-down fire stations, building a county government center and constructing a police academy.

Their priorities will be considered by the DeKalb Board of Commissioners before they finalize infrastructure projects that would be funded by a proposed special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) that’s planned to be put before voters in the Nov. 8 election.

If approved, the one-cent-per-dollar additional sales tax would raise about $550 million for county and city governments over the next five years.

Residents on the panel said there’s a clear need to eliminate numerous potholes and dilapidated roads throughout the county. More than 417 miles of roads in DeKalb are in need of resurfacing.

“We realize the challenge to the community with roads,” said Markus Butts, a co-chairman of the SPLOST Citizen Advisory Committee. “There’s a lot of things on this list that the community will be able to see and feel immediately, like roads.”

The nine-person committee, appointed by Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May and county commissioners, has been meeting since January to recommend proposed SPLOST capital projects.

Committee members tried to make suggestions that match the results of a recent Georgia State University survey, which found that most people said their top priorities were road resurfacing and public safety facilities, said co-chairman David Sjoquist.

“We heard from the citizens in a survey that roads and public safety were a big deal, so that’s where we put the money for the most part,” he said. “People will see that these are projects that benefit them.”

The sales tax is projected to generate about $378 million for DeKalb County’s government and $174 million that will be distributed to city governments.

Repaving the county’s worst roads would cost roughly $162 million, representing 43 percent of the county’s share of SPLOST funding. Smaller amounts would go toward public safety, transportation, facilities, parks and libraries.

Besides roads, the most expensive item on the list is $35 million to help build a DeKalb government center that would consolidate government functions at a new facility along Memorial Drive near the county jail. Several current offices need millions in repairs, and the county government wants to sell them.

The citizen group proposed dedicating $10 million for the public safety training academy facility, and $6 million would go toward a park in Ellenwood.

A separate SPLOST for county public schools is on the May 24 ballot. Unlike the county’s SPLOST process, the school system didn’t specify projects for voters to consider.

The citizen panel’s suggested project list, which includes more than 100 items, is scheduled to go before the DeKalb Commission in June.

Proposed SPLOST spending

Roads and drainage: $162 million

Transportation: $55.6 million

Fire: $46.9 million

Facilities: $44.3 million

Parks: $34.3 million

Police: $24.2 million

Libraries: $11.3 million

City infrastructure projects: $174 million

Total: $552.6 million

Note: Figures are estimates

Source: DeKalb County

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Georgia Politics

Mayor Reed puts airport exec on leave amid concerns over contracts
Mayor Reed puts airport exec on leave amid concerns over contracts

A high-ranking official at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has been placed on administrative leave after the mayor’s office learned that his wife is doing business with an airport subcontractor. A spokeswoman for Mayor Kasim Reed said Friday that the action was taken against Cortez Carter, deputy general manager at the airport, whose...
The Week: Blank says kneeling should not be seen as disrespect
The Week: Blank says kneeling should not be seen as disrespect

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank offered his own interpretation of protests NFL players have staged this season by kneeling during the national anthem. “It’s very clear that the players have no interest whatsoever in being disrespectful to the flag or the anthem,” Blank told GPB’s Ricky Bevington this past week. &ldquo...
Dunwoody man goes from battling brain cancer to DNR hunting consultant
Dunwoody man goes from battling brain cancer to DNR hunting consultant

When Chip Madren was in seventh grade, doctors told his family the type of brain cancer he had gave him about two more years to live. It was his love of hunting that caused him to fight for his life, his mother said, after being promised a trip to Montana when he got better. “He was not fighting well up until that time,” Lea Madren said...
Move for freer political speech divides Georgia’s religious community
Move for freer political speech divides Georgia’s religious community

It’s a regular ritual on Sundays before big votes: Candidates fan out to churches across the state, take prominent perches near the pulpit and receive warm applause from parishioners. And preachers inevitably shower them with kind words, though they stop short of much more lest they cross an invisible line. That’s exactly what happened...
Group blames low EPD funding for Georgia’s water pollution problems
Group blames low EPD funding for Georgia’s water pollution problems

Members of a group of clean water advocates said the General Assembly’s failure to fully fund the Environmental Protection Division is a recurring theme of the organization’s annual list of problematic waterways and policies. Joe Moore, a member of the Georgia Water Coalition, said the Legislature harms the state’s waterways when...
More Stories