Category Archives: Nancy Jester

County SPLOST Proposal – Unacceptable

Stan Jester
DeKalb County
Board Of Education

The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners will soon decide whether or not to bring another 1% sales tax referendum to the voters for a DeKalb County SPLOST. This money is supposed to be used to fund capital improvement projects across the county.

However, the chair of the Citizen Advisory Committee, David Sjoquist, said,“If the facility was located near a municipality, we took it off the list. We weren’t interested or willing to spend unincorporated area money, which is what the SPLOST is, on services in municipalities.”
So, Fire Stations located within the city limits of any city have been removed from the Final SPLOST Project List no matter their current state of disrepair even though the sales tax is county wide and everybody in DeKalb County pays 2.75 mills for fire services.
At this rate, I hope the county doesn’t decide to stop picking up the trash in cities too. Here are Commissioner Nancy Jester’s thoughts on the County SPLOST project list.

Commissioner Nancy Jester

County SPLOST Proposal – Unacceptable
By: Nancy Jester, DeKalb County Commissioner

I have been asked to share my thoughts on the proposed SPLOST list. In its current form, the proposed SPLOST list is unacceptable to me. To sum up why:

  • The county’s current proposed SPLOST project list is filled with “wants” while shortchanging “needs”.
  • Less than 50% of the SPLOST list is focused on the original intent of the legislation – funding road paving and infrastructure repairs.
  • The current SPLOST list proposes to use almost 10% of all SPLOST collections to fund a new, large government center complex.

Here’s how your sales tax in DeKalb is currently assessed:
DeKalb Sales Tax is 7%. Here’s the breakdown:
4% is a State of Georgia sales tax
1% is an Education SPLOST that goes to the DeKalb school district
1% is a tax that goes to MARTA
1% is a HOST (80% goes to property tax relief / 20% goes to infrastructure funding)
7% Sales Tax in DeKalb
So – why is there a proposal to add another penny?
The 2014 DeKalb County Operations Task Force recommended that our DeKalb County Legislative Delegation pass a bill allowing for the county to call a referendum to correct a growing inequity in the distribution of the HOST tax proceeds. Increasingly, due to the way the funding formula works, the majority of that 20% for infrastructure was going to cities. The county struggled with the loss of these funds and road maintenance suffered. The motivation behind the legislation (HB 215) that allows for the SPLOST referendum was:

  1. To give even more property tax relief to homeowners (convert the HOST property tax penny to 100% property tax relief) and,
  2. To create more infrastructure funding by adding another penny sales tax – all subject to the approval of voters in a countywide referendum.

Why I oppose the current SPLOST proposal:
In theory I favor replacing property tax with sales tax. I am also sympathetic to the unfortunate skew in HOST fund distribution. I am strongly in agreement with the motivation of legislators to help fund a robust road paving program. Sadly, as the county prepares the referendum question for the ballot, the proposed list of SPLOST projects has grown to include pet projects and monuments to government bureaucracy. This includes new parks, libraries, and an exceedingly large new government center – a Taj Mahal monument to ineffective government.
In addition to mission creep in the SPLOST list, important and defensible public safety improvements receive less funding than needed. Our police and fire departments both need new training facilities, yet SPLOST only proposes to fund 40% of this need. Fire Stations located within the city limits of any city have been removed no matter their current state of disrepair. Keep in mind, most fire stations within city limits serve areas that include multiple jurisdictions including multiple cities and unincorporated DeKalb. You should also note that you pay fire service tax to the county to protect life and property even as the county refuses to build or rebuild stations that are necessary to protect you.
I hope that elected officials in the county, the cities, and our legislature won’t be distracted by or focused on “wants” but rather “needs” as they evaluate the SPLOST proposal. I hope that our partners in city government won’t support a county referendum that provides them a new source of tax dollars for their city while burdening DeKalb’s taxpayers in all of the county, including cities, with a project as wasteful as a new government center. I hope that all elected officials will understand the county must focus on repairing the broken infrastructure that everyone must endure instead of adding more capital (Government Centers, parks, libraries, etc.) to an inventory of assets that are already poorly maintained.
We can consider a SPLOST that is serious about paving roads and addressing public safety. We must adhere to the original rationale for this proposal – paving and repairing roads and infrastructure. I will not support a SPLOST, raising your taxes, to fund pork barrel spending of any sort.


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DeKalb's Challenges Ahead for 2016

Nancy Jester outlines DeKalb’s challenges ahead for 2016. Below is an excerpt from the article published in this week’s Crier.

Commissioner Nancy Jester

Jester outlines DeKalb challenges ahead for 2016
By: Nancy Jester

As the New Year approaches, I’d like to share my thoughts about what DeKalb County issues you should watch for in 2016.
The budget for 2016 must be reviewed, finalized, and approved by the Board of Commissioners by March 1st. The proposed budget included no change in the millage rate for unincorporated DeKalb.
For those citizens living in cities, your county rate is lower than the unincorporated areas and is dependent on which services your city receives from the county. The good news is that most cities should see an overall decrease …
I continue to believe that the county is overstaffed and inefficiently managed. So despite some positive news for the incorporated areas of DeKalb, the budget is not aligned with the leaner more efficient service delivery strategy that I favor…
I am particularly concerned with an effort in the General Assembly to increase the taxes of newly formed cities via House Bill 711. The legislation would create a new special tax district for unfunded pension liabilities of DeKalb County…
We’ll need to keep an eye out on the proposal for the e-SPLOST V. The school district has shown a stunning lack of planning capabilities over the last 20 years of e-SPLOST. Trailers and poor conditions have proliferated in some areas while new schools were built where enrollment severely declined. The details of the proposal will determine whether it is worthy of support.
As always, DeKalb is in need of economic development outside of the perimeter area. The county and school district must demonstrate that they are capable partners by improving the business climate and academic achievement levels in DeKalb. These improvements must be coupled with a dedication to rooting out corruption and unethical behavior and practices that have plagued DeKalb for too long. Only when DeKalb is seen as a successful, ethical government and school system will real progress take hold.
Most importantly, I wish you and your families a healthy, safe, and prosperous New Year.
Continue Reading at The Crier >>

Public Meetings to Present Redistricting Options to Address Cross Keys Overcrowding
Revised 12/22/2015
DeKalb County School District will be holding three (3) public meetings to present redistricting options to address overcrowding in the Cross Keys Cluster. The community will have an opportunity to voice their comments on the proposed options at these meetings. The affected schools include Montgomery ES, Huntley Hills ES, Ashford Park ES, Cary Reynolds ES, Dresden ES, Montclair ES, Woodward ES, Briar Vista ES, Fernbank ES, Laurel Ridge ES, McLendon ES, Avondale ES, Chamblee MS, Chamblee HS, Sequoyah MS, Cross Keys HS, Druid Hills MS, Druid Hills HS, Warren Tech, Oakcliff Theme. Final recommendations on redistricting will be presented for approval at the March 2016 Board Meeting.
Meetings will be held:

  1. Thursday, January 14th 2016, 6:00 pm at Sequoyah Middle School – 3456 Aztec Road Doraville, GA 30340
  2. Tuesday, January 19th 2016, 6:00 pm at Druid Hills High School – 1798 Haygood Drive NE, Atlanta, GA 30307
  3. Thursday, February 11th 2016, 6:00 pm at Cross Keys High School – 1626 N. Druid Hills Road NE Atlanta, GA 30319

House Bill 711
House Bill 711 will provide for the retirement of certain pension obligations; to provide for definitions; to provide for the creation of special districts under certain circumstances for a limited period of time; to provide for procedures, conditions, and limitations; to provide for certain taxation in connection with the retirement of such obligations; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

The proposed fifth Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (E-SPLOST V) will be a continuation of the one percent sales tax currently paid on the sale of good and services sold in DeKalb County. A joint resolution will be developed between the DeKalb County School District, the Atlanta Public Schools and the City Schools of Decatur for the approval of a project list to be presented to the voters via formal referendum in November May of 2016 [Note: data was recently changed on DCSD website]. If approved by the voters of DeKalb County, E-SPLOST V sales tax collections would commence on July 1, 2017 and sunset on June 30, 2022.