Dear Decaturish – Decatur’s annexation proposal is shameful
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The Decatur Annexation proposal is shameful. It robs commercial tax revenue directly from DeKalb’s underfunded schools in order give to Decatur’s already highly funded schools.
This current plan was approved by the DeKalb House Delegation last year and has only to pass the 2016 Senate Delegation to be enacted. While several of the more egregious areas were stripped from the plan by the House in 2015, what remains takes a vast swath of majority commercial property from unincorporated DeKalb and gives it to an already bloated City of Decatur.
This annexation is different from the Brookhaven, Chamblee, and even Avondale annexations. Decatur has its own school system. A review of property records shows the commercial property value in the area approved by the 2015 DeKalb House Delegation – Area B-3 on Decatur’s map (a portion of Rep. Karla Drenner’s district) – is $312,374,121. The current school tax generated from this commercial property is $2,925,224. This is nearly 3 million dollars PER YEAR that will be siphoned from DeKalb County Schools to the City of Decatur. As these commercial properties continue to develop, the loss in revenue will likely soar much higher.
Decatur claims they need to balance their commercial and residential tax base but this is a false argument. Decatur’s high property values are in excess of those needed to support reasonable services. DeKalb County residential property values are just the opposite – and chipping away at DeKalb’s commercial base will cause irreparable damage to the county and particularly its schools.
Decatur has a reputable school system but Decatur’s per student expenditure ($14,429) far exceeds that of DeKalb ($10,749). This large annexation proposal is primarily commercial with only about 200 homes included. Thus Decatur is not taking anywhere near a commensurate number of students to offset the loss of commercial tax revenue for DeKalb schools. This is UNFAIR. Decatur is stealing commercial tax base to support their already highly funded schools – at the expense of DeKalb County’s vastly underfunded school system.
Decatur can and should look to develop more commercial property within their existing boundaries.
Additionally, we fear that this is only the beginning for Decatur. Annexing this large B-3 swath will give Decatur additional contingent commercial borders – a foothold allowing them to engulf other even more valuable commercial properties such as Walmart and the Fuqua developments. These are properties that Decatur has long pushed to incorporate and allowing this unethical annexation to proceed will only enhance their chances of absorbing more of Central DeKalb’s critical commercial holdings.
Please do your best to stop this annexation and avoid its devastating impact on funding for our children’s schools. Please contact your DeKalb state senators today.
Mary Shellman and Lynn Ganim
Unincorporated DeKalb Residents
 Statistics according to nces.ed.gov/ccd/districtsearch of which the most recent fiscal data pertains to the 2011-12 school year. Approximately $4,400 of per student expenditure in Georgia is provided by the state. (http://cslf.gsu.edu/files/2015/06/Georgia-Rankings-Among-the-States_June2015.pdf)