Political Notes – DeKalb businesses could have an impact on cityhood movement

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The owners of two major pieces of commercial property in DeKalb County have quietly applied for annexation of their tracts by the newly incorporated City of Brookhaven – a move that could have a profound impact on efforts to create the proposed cities of Lakeside and Briarcliff.

The properties involved are the Executive Park office complex and the adjacent administrative campus of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), which are located off North Druid Hills Road just east of Interstate 85.

Both tracts are part of unincorporated DeKalb and thus are squarely in the sights of the activist groups that want to incorporate the Lakeside and Briarcliff municipalities.

That’s because the commercial properties generate tons of property tax revenues and are not residential areas inhabited by families with school-aged children, whose demands for government services can be a drain on municipal coffers. For a new city to make a feasible financial case, it has to have a healthy portion of commercial properties to pay for providing services to residential communities.

Last week, the owners of the commercial properties filed formal applications to be annexed into Brookhaven.

“We just thought it was going to be the prudent path to seek annexation into an already-established city like Brookhaven with a solid infrastructure,” said Patty Gregory, a spokesperson for CHOA.

The applications quickly caught the eye of the Lakeside/Briarcliff proponents, who are calling for a moratorium on the annexations.

“We certainly would like to see this area in the proposed city of Lakeside,” said Mary Kay Woodworth, co-chair of LakesideYES! “The CHOA properties have been in our map since 2013, and the Executive Park properties were added in 2014. We urge those businesses that are eager to become part of an incorporated city to wait just a little longer, as Lakeside will soon be up for a referendum.”

“While we respect the right of every property owner to express his or her preferences, we believe strongly that city boundaries should make sense — and jumping over an eight-lane highway to take commercial properties without the surrounding people does not make sense,” said Allen Venet, president of the City of Briarcliff Initiative. “The proposed annexation is unfair to the residents who are left out, and to everyone in our proposed city.”

The Brookhaven City Council is expected to consider the annexation applications and possibly vote on them by the end of the year. That would be prior to the convening of the next General Assembly session, when legislators would presumably be asked to pass some sort of bill related to Lakeside/Briarcliff incorporation.

If CHOA and Executive Park do succeed in getting annexed into the city limits of Brookhaven, it could shoot a huge hole in the plans to create another new DeKalb city.

Poll shows support for Medicaid expansion

A new poll conducted by the Schapiro Group for the Healthcare Georgia Foundation showed that 60 percent of Georgians support the expansion of Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act.

As reported by Andy Miller for Georgia Health News:

The Medicaid program for the poor and disabled has overwhelming support among Georgians, the survey found, with 75 percent saying they believe it’s very important for health care. Overall, 91 percent say Medicaid is an important program for the state.

The general favorability of expanding that program is a finding that mirrors support for the move in other polls of Georgians. The survey found that 36 percent support the current decision on expansion.

“Georgia’s candidates for U.S. Senate and governor should not underestimate our state’s residents and their overwhelmingly positive view of Medicaid (91%) and their disapproval of the decision not to expand Medicaid,” Nelson said.

The ACA anticipated that Medicaid expansion would be implemented throughout the country, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states don’t have to do it. Currently, about half the states are going forward with it.

Gov. Nathan Deal declined to expand Medicaid in Georgia as part of ACA, a move that is costing the state more than $3 billion a year in federal funding it would otherwise receive for Medicaid services.

Deal contends the state cannot afford its share of the Medicaid expansion costs, although Republican governors like Jan Brewer of Arizona and Rick Snyder of Michigan have signed off on the expansion of the healthcare program.

DOT announces bid awards

The Georgia Department of Transportation has awarded contracts totaling more than $14 million upgrades to segments of Interstate 20 east of Metro Atlanta and Interstate 16 in Chatham County.

DOT officials said 42 miles of Interstate 20 in Greene, Taliaferro, Warren and McDuffie counties will be repaired or replaced as part of an $8.9 million project. The work will take place on that stretch of the interstate between State Route 44 in Greene and the Thomson Bypass in McDuffie. The contract was awarded to Interstate Improvement Inc., of Fairbault, Minn.

An 11-mile segment of Interstate 16 in the western area of Chatham will also be repaired and upgraded at a cost of $5.4 million. The work will be done by Diamond Surface Inc. of Maple Grove, Minn.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: annexation , Brookhaven , Children's Healthcare of Atlanta , City of Briarcliff , City of Lakeside , DOT projects , Executive Park , Medicaid expansion , new cities