DeKalb and city officials unify around sales tax referendum


City mayors and DeKalb County elected officials are uniting around sales tax proposals on this year’s ballot, saying the additional revenue is needed to pay for smoother roads, more firefighting vehicles and new police cars.

A press conference staged Wednesday was designed to answer questions about referendums that would increase DeKalb’s sales tax rate to 8 percent and reduce homeowners’ property tax bills.

If approved by voters Nov. 7, the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) would bring in about $100 million a year for transportation and public safety infrastructure. The property tax relief measure would return roughly $22 million a year from existing sales taxes to homeowners. Both measures must pass to be enacted.

RELATED: DeKalb SPLOST frequently asked questions

DeKalb CEO Mike Thurmond, surrounded by eight mayors and other government officials, said the tax overhaul package would change the course of the county.

“A new day has dawned. It’s a day that focuses on cooperation, communication and transparency,” Thurmond said at the press conference at the DeKalb Roads and Drainage Division near Memorial Drive.

While local elected officials are prohibited under state law from advocating for the SPLOST, their implicit support was clear.

Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal said he’s never seen so much collaboration between municipal and county political leaders.

“We’re all in DeKalb County. This is our county, and we need to make sure we enhance our county as a whole,” he said.

Lithonia Mayor Deborah Jackson said the vote is a “historic moment” for the county and its cities.

“Let’s continue to make DeKalb County the great community that we know we want it to be,” Jackson said. “Whether you live in a city or an unincorporated area, we are one DeKalb.”

The sales tax would be distributed to cities and unincorporated areas proportionately based on population. Over the next six years, about $388 million would fund unincorporated infrastructure, while $249 would be distributed to city governments.

Meanwhile, another measure on the ballot would give homeowners a break on their property taxes.

The change to the homestead local option sales tax (HOST) would lower residents’ property bills countywide. Currently, 80 percent of HOST goes toward property tax reduction and 20 percent for government infrastructure. If approved, 100 percent of HOST would go toward property tax relief.

Early voting began Monday at the DeKalb Voter Registration & Elections Office on Memorial Drive and the Bessie Branham Recreation Center in Kirkwood. A third advance voting site will open at the Dunwoody Library on Oct. 30.

MYAJC.COM: REAL JOURNALISM. REAL LOCAL IMPACT.

The AJC's Mark Niesse keeps you updated on the latest happenings in DeKalb County government and politics. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

Never miss a minute of what's happening in DeKalb politics. Subscribe to myAJC.com.

In other DeKalb news:



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Deputy injured in crash; driver suspected of DUI
Deputy injured in crash; driver suspected of DUI

A Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office deputy was injured early Saturday when a driver suspected of DUI hit the deputy’s marked cruiser on Ga. 400, the sheriff’s office said. Deputy First Class Rod Reeves was on traffic duty and parked on the shoulder of the northbound lanes near Majors Road when a 2005 Ford Explorer hit the rear of Reeves&rsquo...
Manhunt on for 2 accused in shootout with police
Manhunt on for 2 accused in shootout with police

Authorities in Hall County are searching for a man and a woman accused of shooting at two Gainesville police officers, who were injured in the overnight altercation.  Police are searching for Marcos Garcia Tovar, 20, and Alondra Rodriguez, 20, according to a news release from Gainesville police. Sgt. Kevin Holbrook, spokesman for Gainesville police...
1 dead in Gwinnett double shooting
1 dead in Gwinnett double shooting

Gwinnett County police are investigating a double shooting early Saturday near Norcross in which one man was found dead at an apartment complex. Officers heard three gunshots shortly after 4 a.m., then drove into the Rockbridge Court Apartments near Jimmy Carter Boulevard, Channel 2 Action News reported. <div></div><br><blockquote...
Texas residents find mail dumped near sewer drain
Texas residents find mail dumped near sewer drain

Residents in a Texas neighborhood are angry that their mail apparently has been going down the drain. Brenda Tisdale was walking her dogs in a southwest neighborhood in Mesquite when she noticed a few clean, white pieces of paper in a sewer drain, KTVT reported. “I was thinking, ‘that’s where all of our mail has gone,&rsquo...
Mugabe refuses to step down as Zimbabwe’s president
Mugabe refuses to step down as Zimbabwe’s president

Thousands of Zimbabwe residents marched in the streets of Harare on Saturday, demanding the resignation of President Robert Mugabe, CNN reported. The protests in the capital city occurred days after the 93-year-old president was put under house arrest by the army, which also detained some of his key political allies. Mugabe has been Zimbabwe&rsquo...
More Stories