Kathie Gannon, DeKalb County Commissioner for Superdistrict 6, was kind enough to attend our meeting and take questions.
As noted in other reports here and elsewhere, she explained the county has been approached by Selig. Responding to a question of what was her "feel" about the Selig/Walmart proposal, Ms. Gannon said she had a sense they have been in talks for a long time. Ms. Gannon noted that the Walmart proposal would not need significant variances, just a parking variance and a setback on an already paved area; these requests would be handled by the zoning board of appeals and the community would be able to provide feedback at that point. The proposal calls for tearing down the structure from the thrift store to Picadilly Cafeteria, and for 3 curb cuts: one at Medlock Rd., one at North Decatur Rd., and one at Church St.
Ms. Gannon confirmed the proposal requested financial assistance from the county; all her statements suggested she is opposed. An audience member asked where are things now, Ms. Gannon said they presented their proposal, the commissioners listened, and that was about it. In response to "what did Walmart ask for", Ms. Gannon replied it was a TAD (tax allocation district) request, meaning that tax would be held at a certain level for a certain period of time, and that this only works if the school board is willing to be part of the process.
An audience member asked why property assessments went up so drastically for some people and went down for others? Ms. Gannon noted that new rules require that calculations take into account the number of foreclosures, which has never been done before.
On the topic of taxes, Ms. Gannon said the millage rate will go up, however, that people should be aware that this will be the first increase from the county in 10 years. All other increases have been driven by the Dekalb County school board, which receives the majority of moneys collected from property tax.
[N.B., a quick visit to the Dekalb County Tax Commissioner website shows that for year 2010, the county drew 16.86 mills, while schools drew 22.98 mills. As reported here, the proposed new millage rate will add 4.5 mills to the 2010 rate, bringing the county's millage rate to 21.36. If the word "millage" confuses you, remember it's just the property tax rate calculated per $1,000, instead of the more familiar percent (per $100).]
On a different topic, a neighbor asked about speed bumps on Sanford Rd. Ms. Gannon suggested the neighbor contacts Gannon's office for additional information on that process.