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Cityhood would not benefit residents of South DeKalb

8/1/2014, 6 a.m.

By Ed Williams

I have noticed that CrossRoadsNews has run at least two, if not more articles on the topic of cityhood for South DeKalb in the last couple of months. I am not familiar with Dr. Kathryn Rice and I do not understand the theoretical framework in which she believes that the formation of a city would benefit the citizens of South DeKalb.

It appears to be based on decentralized county government. I do not think cityhood would benefit South DeKalb since we already have a larger population representation at the county level.

The most recent articles rationalized the idea of cityhood based on what others in North DeKalb are doing. It suggests that we would be able to compete with others with no major industries home to South DeKalb. I was left wondering what was the real motive. The hidden agenda is more likely to have to do with property taxes, funding government, transportation, schools, police, and home values, and less about business and competition.

I am very surprised that there has not been a more balanced and enlightened approach to covering the idea of cityhood. I have lived in South DeKalb for over 15 years and I do not see how low-wage jobs and government jobs would compete with North DeKalb or the city of Atlanta. I think what would more likely happen is that South DeKalb will back itself into a corner in terms of property taxes and the public school system. Seventy percent of the property taxes go to the school system.

I think Central and North DeKalb would like South DeKalb to separate itself from county government, particularly since a disproportionate number of nonwhite students attend the school system. Next there would be an effort to create separate school systems by changing the state constitution.

Create a city and the business will come. From what I have read, citizens are being sold a pipe dream. South DeKalb would not be able to compete with Atlanta or Buckhead, Sandy Springs, Alpharetta. What will likely happen is that we will have politicians at both the county and city level using our tax money with no apparent benefit.

Throughout most of history, cities were created from industries/businesses, and the people came. This article seems to suggest that by creating a city, the business will come.

Ed Williams lives in Decatur.