The DeKalb County Commissioners again deferred a decision on whether it will sue Dunwoody. It was the eighth time in eight months that the Commissioners delayed making a decision about the lawsuit.
“I feel this is a positive step,” [Commissioner Elaine Boyer] said of the ongoing negotiations. “We have asked to continue mediation with the city of Dunwoody.”
The County and Dunwoody are in current negotiations over the transfer of county-owned property, including the multi-million-dollar Brook Run Park facility on North Peachtree Road.
The County also deferred a decision on changes to its liquor license proposed by Commissioner Kathie Gannon that would allow restaurants in mixed-use developments to serve alcohol despite their proximity to schools or churches.
The Commissioners will tackle both again next month.
Fulton County leaders picked sides this week over the divorce of the north areas from Fulton County and their reconfiguration into Milton County.
Roswell Mayor Jere Wood, Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos, and Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker lined up on the side of divorce and creation of the new Milton County.
John Sherman, president of the Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation, Fulton Commission Chairman John Eaves, and State Representative Roger Bruce (D-Atlanta) argued to preserve Fulton County.
DeKalb County has already paid $32,000 to former Governor Roy Barnes in connection with the newly created city of Dunwoody. The County will decide on April 14 whether to plow ahead with a lawsuit against Dunwoody challenging the legality of last year’s incorporation vote.
The AJC learned through an open records request that the County spent nearly half a million dollars in outside attorneys fees to defend the County in court or acted as plaintiff’s counsel on high-profile cases.
For instance, neither side has backed down in a nine-year fight between DeKalb and four of its cities. The case involves the county’s penny on the dollar homestead option sales and use tax. City officials say their residents pay the tax but get no benefit. The fight has rumbled through Georgia’s Supreme Court three times, most recently last year, when the court ruled against DeKalb.
The disputed amount is over $9 million. Meanwhile, the legal bills are mounting. DeKalb spent nearly $60,000 on the case last year alone.
“The city of Decatur itself has paid nearly a million dollars since we started this,” Mayor Bill Floyd said. “I would bet they’ve spent twice that.”
Regarding Dunwoody, County Commissioner Lee May contends DeKalb has gotten a raw deal from the new city.
“The boundaries of what was incorporated is costing us big time,” he said. “And it’s not fair.”
May said he would also like to appeal this month’s decision in Fulton over the Dunwoody sales tax proceeds. “I would like to just fight to the end until there are no options,” he said.
In a sixth deferral, the DeKalb County Commission voted 7-0 to again to table the decision on whether to a lawsuit challenging the incorporation of Dunwoody, deferring a decision on whether to sue until April 14. Commissioners, spurred by the loss of as much as $16 million in tax revenue to the new city, hired former Gov. Roy Barnes to draft a legal challenge under federal voting rights laws that protect racial minority voters.
Commissioner Lee May filed the legislation authorizing the suit in May.
May has said legal grounds for a lawsuit could range from lack of racial representation at the polls to the distribution of funds from business and property taxes.