Alliance leader demands special election
The Stonecrest City Alliance, which had hoped to form its own city, has learned the area is not viable for incorporation.
The University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government said in a 59-page feasibility study that incorporating the Stonecrest area would cost $45.4 million to operate annually compared to the $31.1 million the city would generate in revenues.
The Stonecrest group was one of four to present cityhood proposals on Jan. 9 to the DeKalb Delegation, hoping to win support for a voter referendum in May. Stonecrest, however, was the only group that was not deemed viable. Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker got their feasibility studies back in December showing they would be able to generate the revenues needed to operate as cities. Now, however, the three groups are battling over Northlake Mall. All three want to include the mall within their proposed boundaries. The mall would generate more than $1 million annually in property values for the proposed cities.
Meanwhile, Jason Lary, who heads the Stonecrest group, is gearing up to fight for leadership on another front.
“We are in the toilet. We’re holding on to the rim of the bowl,” said Lary. “This study lets us know how badly we have been under-represented.”
Lary has submitted a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal demanding a special election to fill the Commission District 5 seat vacated by Lee May, who was appointed last July as Interim DeKalb CEO. The governor made the appointment after suspending Burrell Ellis, who was indicted on corruption charges.
May could not be reached for comment at the newspaper’s deadline, but he has said in the past that his constituents are being served by the Super District seat held by Commissioner Stan Watson, who represents half of the county. District 5 falls within the half Watson represents.
State Rep. Dar’Shun Kendrick, who is an attorney, said the special election may be a matter for the Attorney General to consider.
“The governor can’t just call a special election. Some legal scholars are of the opinion that the DeKalb County charter allows him (May) to serve in a dual role,” said Kendrick.
Lary, however, said he doesn’t think it’s right that the seat remain unfilled indefinitely.
“The bottom line is our area is without representation right now, and we have had problems that have built up over a number of years that must be fixed,” said Lary, pointing to declining property values in the Stonecrest area and the growing demand for police protection.
According to the Stonecrest study, the high number of 9-1-1 police calls in the study area is costly. The study shows that DeKalb handled 573,547 calls placed to 9-1-1 for police services in 2012. The study projected the Stonecrest area’s share of those calls would be between 50,000 and 75,000 annually.
“The way we drew the area is too big and would require a lot more police to handle all of those calls,” Lary said. “We learned that bigger is not necessarily better.”
The Alliance, Lary said plans to look at reducing the size of the proposed cityhood area from 82,000 to 48,000 residents and apply for another study.
"Obviously, a new study is not going to be completed in time for this Legislative session. That's why we need the Special Election for the Board of Commissioners to get some representation for our area," Lary said.