Dunwoody Mayor asks DeKalb delegation to help improve ambulance response timesGeorgia State Capitol. Photo by Dean Hesse.
DeKalb County, GA — During the weekly meeting with the DeKalb County legislative delegation, Dunwoody’s mayor told legislators that cities are struggling with slow ambulance response times in the county.
The Georgia House delegation for DeKalb County holds meetings every Monday via Zoom, after the legislature adjourns around noon. State senators and other local elected officials sometimes also attend.
This week’s meeting was attended by members of the Georgia Municipal Association, including the GMA President Jim Thornton. Mayors, city council members, and city staff from DeKalb municipalities, including Decatur, Clarkston, Pine Lake, Dunwoody, Avondale Estates, and Brookhaven were also in attendance.
Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch told the legislators that Dunwoody has struggled with slow emergency services response times since at least 2018.
“DeKalb was already in bad shape before the pandemic,” said Deutsch, adding that the pandemic made the situation worse.
Deutsch said it’s a national crisis and local governments can try to improve processes, but she would like to see support coming from the legislature in terms of standards for emergency services providers.
Deutsch said that she had asked Sen. Sally Harrell for a study on the subject and was pleased to see that legislation has already been drafted for this year. One bill would allow cities that have their own fire departments to have ambulance services, which would not help DeKalb cities. However, another would allow cities to contract for their own independent EMS services.
Regarding upcoming housing legislation, Thornton cautioned against putting more constraints on municipalities’ ability to make zoning and permitting decisions.
According to the Georgia Recorder, “Rep. Dale Washburn, a Republican from Macon, plans to introduce a bill soon to reduce some of the control of local governments to regulate housing design standards, which critics say can add to the cost. Local government organizations, however, oppose the controversial plan that they argue unfairly takes away local control while not resolving a demand for housing that greatly exceeds the supply.”
Gov. Brian Kemp has announced that he considers workforce housing a big priority. Across the country, there has been an effort by construction companies to get states to pass laws that preempt local powers, based on the premise that local regulations drive up construction costs.
However, local governments are afraid that they will be saddled with providing infrastructure for projects they will not be allowed to reject. DeKalb already has serious inadequacies in water and sewer capacity.
The GMA prefers incentives in the form of funding for sewer and other infrastructure. This would allow cities to build necessary infrastructure without the risk that a particular project will not come to fruition, harming the city’s budget.
Other topics discussed included:
— DeKalb Board of Education members wanting more freedom to put items on their agenda and other concerns about their meeting process.
— Limits on truck weights. House Bill 189 is a bill which would raise the weight limit on trucks. Municipalities are concerned because heavier trucks damage infrastructure and can lead to wrecks.
“Trucks up to 100,000 pounds can drive through Stone Mountain with impunity. Our infrastructure will be crushed,” Stone Mountain City Councilmember Clint Monroe said during the Feb. 7 Stone Mountain City Council meeting.
The meetings of the county’s legislative delegation are planned to continue for the next eight weeks. Recordings are available on the DeKalb County House and Senate Delegations Facebook page.
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