City of Decatur says annexation not a priority in 2016 session
This story has been updated.
The city of Decatur has released a statement regarding its goals for the 2016 legislative session. Annexation won’t be a priority, the city’s statement says.
State Rep. Karla Drenner introduced House Bill 663 last year, which would’ve annexed some areas east of Decatur. The bill is still being considered, but the city said it isn’t pushing for its approval this year.
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“We have new City leadership, a new School Superintendent and new Board of Education leadership and we need to look at a variety of issues, including annexation, so we will not be pursuing adoption of HB 663 by the Georgia Senate during the 2016 session,” Mayor Patti Garrett said in the press release.
The city is expected to review annexation later this year to determine if it should be pursued in the next legislative session. The city’s primary goal for the 2016 session is approving an expanded homestead tax exemption for seniors.
Some residents of Medlock Park raised concerns about the bill’s status, noting it is on the agenda for a meeting of the DeKalb County Senate Delegation on Feb. 4 at 1 p.m. at the Capitol.
State Sen. Elena Parent told Decaturish, “My intention in having it on agenda in the first place was for both sides to be heard, but I was always clear about the fact that I did not believe there was much appetite for annexations in the delegation this year.”
On the afternoon of Feb. 3, Stephanie Tanner, assistant to Senator Parent, said via email, “I just wanted to let you know that Senator [Gloria] Butler’s office is going to try to send out an updated agenda removing the Decatur annexation bill from tomorrow’s agenda.”
A copy of the agenda forwarded later in the afternoon showed that the discussion of the annexation bill had been removed.
There’s also a petition circulating urging legislators to vote against the annexation plan.
Here is the full statement that appeared on the city’s Decatur Minute blog:
The City of Decatur’s primary interest during the 2016 Georgia General Assembly session is to support the passage of homestead exemption legislation amending and creating tax relief for our resident homeowners, particularly for seniors. Mayor Patti Garrett said, “Property tax relief for long-time residents who have been a part of our community for many years is our top priority, and we are focused on getting homestead exemption legislation passed this session.”
School Board Chair Annie Caiola said, “Over the past decade there have been significant austerity cuts to the State’s education budget, meaning that local residents have had to pay more and more property taxes in order to maintain the strength of our school system. The increasing property taxes are forcing too many seniors out of our community, and it needs to stop. The City Schools of Decatur School Board strongly supports legislation that will exempt our seniors from ad valorem school taxes.”
Proposed homestead exemption legislation would authorize referendums in November, 2016 and, if approved by the voters, would be effective in 2017.
In the 2015 General Assembly HB 663 was adopted by the Georgia House of Representatives that authorized a referendum to annex areas to the east of the existing city limits of Decatur. “We have new City leadership, a new School Superintendent and new Board of Education leadership,” said Mayor Garrett, “and we need to look at a variety of issues, including annexation, so we will not be pursuing adoption of HB 663 by the Georgia Senate during the 2016 session.”
It is anticipated that the City Commission and the Board of Education will revisit annexation later in 2016 to determine what options should be pursued in the future.