Wednesday November 12, City of Decatur Commissioners and School Board members met in a joint work session to discuss the impending annexation and how it would effect the city and school’s if passed or rejected.
The issue at hand:
- City of Decatur needs more commercial property – the current residential to commercial ratio is 86% to 14%
- City of Decatur School System needs room to grow as population increases
City Schools of Decatur (CSD) has a current enrollment of 4,336 students. Enrollment studies estimate that the city’s school system will grow to 7,398 students by 2020 without annexation. If the city is able to annex the 1.6 square miles in its current plan, it would increase that number by 747. According to the same report, if Decatur does not annex property residents will suffer higher taxes and the school system will have operating deficits.
In 2013, CSD asked commissioners to offer a solution to its growing enrollment. CSD requested commissioners put a $59 million bond issue on the ballot, but commissioners voted unanimously to postpone the decision until November 2014. That decision has brought us here. Tomorrow, November 15th, is the last day for City of Decatur and DeKalb County to come up with an agreed upon annexation plan.
Commissioners said they were on the same page with the school system; if the proposed annexation plan fails as they have in the past, partnership between CSD and City Officials will be imperative. If the city does not annex more property, CSD will have to find other ways to increase capacity in their schools.
Options include closing the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center and turning it into a K-3 school. Adding onto Glenwood Elementary and turning that addition into a CSD’s fourth and fifth grade academy has also been discussed. Tom Sayre from the Sizemore Group, the consulting firm that conducted the enrollment study, says that CSD is considering several scenarios for expansion in case City of Decatur cannot annex more property.
“There are a number of options that they are investigating and they have a variety of pros and cons,” according to Sayre. “One of the most dire that they have talked about here is the possibility they might use eminent domain to annex into the school system pieces of property which are not currently in the school system. The probability they would do that is increased if annexation does not occur.”
A benefit of annexation is that it will provide areas for new school facilities. The city is working to complete its final annexation master plan by December 1st – if they succeed, the School Board would consider a resolution in support of that plan on December 9th and the City Commission would consider approving it on December 15th.
- Whether or not to move forward with an annexation plan has not been decided.
- City of Decatur Schools and the city’s commissioners are working together because if a plan is adopted, it needs to serve and enhance all of the public needs in the community.
- If the past is any indication, City of Decatur schools will continue to face enormous pressures in the next five years and moving forward into the future. Those pressures may not be able to be addressed within the existing city limits so annexation has to be explored.
- The option of annexation will not exist in the future – once the area surrounding the existing city limits is part of an incorporated city, there will be no choice and it is very likely that in the next 3-5 years, the City of Decatur will be surrounded by other incorporated cities.
[All information sourced from Decaturish and City of Decatur.]
How do you feel about the proposed annexation? Leave your comments below!
Do you need Real Estate advice? Please contact me at NoraSells@KW.com or 404-840-2918.
– Nora Levesque