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City Commission considering tax breaks, annexation

Annexation, new cities Avondale Estates Decatur

City Commission considering tax breaks, annexation

Decatur City Hall.
Decatur City Hall

Decatur City Hall

Decatur’s City Commission meets Monday, Dec. 15, and will consider an annexation master plan as well as expanding a tax break for seniors.

A resolution to approve the annexation master plan is on the agenda. On Dec. 9 City Schools of Decatur Board of Education members delayed supporting the plan. School Board members said they needed more time to study it. The BOE is supposed to come up with a resolution in support of the plan by Dec. 18.

It’s unclear whether the City Commission will approve the plan first or if commissioners will wait until the School Board acts.

Decatur and Avondale Estates are two players in a larger move to incorporate areas of DeKalb County that are not currently in cities. Decatur’s revision of its master plan was more of a reaffirmation of its previous one. City leaders have discouraged interest from residential neighborhoods like Medlock and Decatur Terrace. Neighborhoods would put more pressure on the Decatur’s schools. CSD already is in the process of expanding its high school and middle school to handle enrollment growth.

But Decatur’s plan does go after commercial areas, like Suburban Plaza. It also defers to the draft plan from Avondale Estates. Avondale wants commercial areas like the DeKalb Farmers Market and properties in the Rio Circle area. Owners of those properties have fought to be removed from Avondale’s plan. The Rio Circle owners petitioned Decatur, but didn’t persuade the city to draw a larger annexation map. Avondale Estates City Commissioners recently delayed approving a similar annexation resolution until January to give commissioners more time to consider its implications.

In other business, the Decatur City Commission will consider asking for local legislation that would expand the city’s homestead tax exemption for seniors. The legislation, if approved, would increase the general homestead exemption for persons 65 or older from $1,000 to $10,000. It also would create a $15,000 general homestead exemption for persons 62 or older whose income doesn’t exceed $50,000.

In her memo to the commission, City Manager Peggy Merriss wrote, “During the Fiscal Year 2014-2015 budget process, the City Commission requested a review of existing General Homestead exemptions and recommendations for addressing property tax relief for owner-occupied residential homes, particularly for those over 65 with fixed or low incomes. The City Commission was interested in providing relief for persons who had owned their homes for a long time who could be affected by increasing property values due to redevelopment.”

Merriss also wrote, “The annual tax property tax bill reduction for a $400,000 house would range from approximately $60 for a resident homeowner who does not qualify for additional age or income considerations to $340 for a resident homeowner who meets qualifications for all of the additional age or income considerations. The estimated reduction in property tax revenue for the General Fund is approximately $700,000.”

The City Commission meeting will begin with a work session on annexation at 6:30 pm, followed by the regular meeting at 7:30 pm. The City Commission meets at 509 North McDonough Street. All meetings are open to the public.