At the last council meeting the subject of annexation was brought up. There are many things that need to be cleared up about why this is even an issue, and what the purpose of the study we asked for will be. I also want to clear up what I do and what I don't support.
First, this is simply a feasibility study about the impact ANY annexation would have on the budget and liabilities for services placed on the City of Doraville. This conversation was started by us in response to the effort by a group of people wanting to create the City of Vista Grove. The creation and annexation of those properties into the "City of Vista Grove" is something that has been pushed for several years now, and has been on the ballot before. It's a real thing and their proposed map is shown below. Again, this is their map.
The key thing to note are the pockets on Unincorporated DeKalb County in Doraville that I have marked in pink. If the Vista Grove initiative was put on the ballot as is and passed, those pockets would by default be annexed into Doraville without their consent. Let me repeat this: Those areas, that are mostly residencial, would be forcibly annexed into Doraville without a vote, nor would the City of Doraville have any say in this.
For this next part I need to do a little annexation 101. For every $1.00 of tax money a city takes in: we spend $1.25 in service if it is residencial; and we spend $0.75 in service if it is commercial. Obviously this is an over simplification, but this basic formula is how municipal taxation works out. The whole reason for a feasibility study, whether it is being done by the City of Doraville, or a committee of people wanting to create a new city like Vista Grove, is to weigh the balance of commercial vs residential to determine if it is financially feasible for the taxes collected to provide services to the proposed area.
OK let's go back to the above map. If the Vista Grove committee supplied map is adopted, these pink areas of the map will become part of Doraville by default. These pockets are also almost exclusively residential and have very little commercial to balance them out. If these pockets are forced into the city of Doraville, it would place a huge burden on our city to provide services for all this new residencial.
What was brought before me was: a potential annexation study map, to look at options to protect the citizens of Doraville from having to pay for services for all this residencial that Vista Grove is proposing to force into our city limits, without any commercial to balance it. What the feasibility study will also do is help us determine where there might be some commercial on the other side of I-85 that would balance out these mostly residential properties we see possibly being forced into our city limits.
The reason we expanded the study area further than just some commercial on the other side of I-85 is: over the past 5 years we have had a few groups of residents from the Northcrest area come to city hall asking about being annexed into our city. Without a feasibility study, we don't know if it would even be possible, or if this is something we would even be able to participate in. The study would give us an educated answer on this request, until now we were just guessing.
At this point all the city council did was ask for some research on the impact any of these potential annexations would have on Doraville and the people who live here now. I was elected to look out for the well being of the citizens of my city, and to ignore this issue by voting against an impact study, would be neglecting my responsibilities. I feel without this information, we can't even discuss this subject intelligently.
Finally, I feel I need to clear up an accusation I have seen people throwing out there. We are not trying to force residents into our city limits with this study, it's not even possible to do that. Yes, I have discussed with other elected officials the problems I see with the forced annexation of those highly residential properties, that would be forced into Doraville from the creation of Vista Grove. But I want to be clear on this point: I have no interest in a "City initiated residencial annexation", if that was even possible.
I am interested in looking at how to balance this residencial potentially being forced into my city, as well as understanding the impact any annexation would have on Doraville. I understand people being concerned when something like this is put out there, and I hope this clears up what at least my intentions are.
Stephe Koontz, Doraville City Council District 3
678-373-7021 City Cell