- Why Cityhood now?
- Won’t my taxes go up?
- Isn't this just another layer of government?
- What services will the city offer?
- Is the Vista Grove Initiative the same as Lavista Hills?
- What about ethics?
- How can I help the Vista Grove movement?
- How will Vista Grove work with the County?
- What is the Vista Grove footprint?
- How will the city be governed?
While the population of the metro area skyrockets, our physical infrastructure continues to age, and Vista Grove needs a comprehensive, long-term plan to prepare for the future, and leadership connected to the area to ensure implementation. The cities around us – Tucker, Brookhaven, Chamblee, and Doraville – prove that locally tuned, citizen-driven planning and action lead to consistent improvement. The success of these cities is causing our businesses, which are primarily on our perimeter and abut these cities, to pay careful attention to how much easier and more consistent it is to get zoning and permit issues resolved in a city.
Local Improvements - A city can help connect and transform Vista Grove’s physical infrastructure, bringing much needed improvements in areas like parks and recreation, roads and drainage, safety and security, and allow local management of community development including zoning and planning.
Civic Identity - A city can focus on strengthening our community and civic identity. Events like “Taste of Tucker” or Chamblee’s 4th of July concert and fireworks, consistent policy suited to our community, and improved communication between citizens and leadership can all help us work together more efficiently to maintain and enhance the quality of life in Vista Grove and DeKalb County.
Unified effort - A city means that we can communicate forcefully and with a single representative voice on issues of local importance -- among them fostering strong schools, reducing traffic congestion and sprawl, responsible stewardship of our green spaces, and improving the physical infrastructure of Vista Grove.
Representation - Currently a board of seven Commissioners struggles to represent huge chunks of Dekalb’s 740,000 residents. In Vista Grove each city council member would represent roughly 10,000 residents for up to three terms. Importantly, council members would have to live within the districts they represent and live with the choices they make as representatives.
The tax rate has not increased in any of the recently formed cities in DeKalb and our feasibility study indicates a $10 million dollar surplus with SPLOST, and a $1.5 million surplus without SPLOST. In fact, the millage rate for Brookhaven is less than in unincorporated DeKalb.
No, there is no additional layer or duplication of services, only the transfer of responsibility for certain services from the county to the city. Cityhood shifts the responsibility for some services closer to the citizen where local input and presence is most helpful. This frees the county to focus on areas where economies of scale and county-wide delivery make sense. For example, a business license will be issued by the city and require no interaction with the county. Conversely, residents would still rely on the county for fire protection where economies of scale and the ability to shift resources are important practical considerations. Taxes that you currently pay to support these services at the county will shift to the city along with that responsibility.
The 4 “P”s:
Paving - Roads and Drainage includes maintenance and improvement of the roadways, storm drains, and sidewalks
Parks - Parks and Recreation maintaining and building new parks and recreational areas as well as event planning
Police - Public Safety to include Police patrols, public safety education and outreach, and neighborhood watch
Planning – Planning, Zoning, Permitting, Licensing, Code Enforcement
No. The Vista Grove Initiative is a new, fresh effort focused on helping us be informed as a community about our future civic direction and to preserve the OPTION of cityhood before it is lost to other annexations or future legislative changes. Our founding principles and focus are positive dialogue, self-determination and choice for our community, and providing the best information about our civic options to provide the most informed choices.
Noting the failed attempt to bring ethics review to DeKalb through legislation that was approved by 92% of voters, the Vista Grove charter includes many provisions to prevent unethical activities. These include:
- Term limits for councilpersons and the mayor
- Non-partisan elections
- Monthly public meetings
- Strict requirements about disclosure, recusal and conflict of interest in the city charter, resulting in removal from the council.
- Published monthly reports on the operations and expenditures of the city.
- Internal auditor reviewing, at minimum quarterly, operations and expenditures to confirm they fall within the approved budget and do not conflict with the city charter
The success of the Vista Grove movement -- creating a vibrant and progressive city and community that is ready for the future -- depends upon the active involvement of every one of our interested citizens. Here are ways everyone can get involved now:
- Donate. Your previous donations enabled us to pay for our feasibility study and support our website. Our greatest need at present is to support legislation creating the City of Vista Grove and authorizing a referendum vote in November 2019. Donations to Connect Vista Grove, Inc. directly further that effort of advocating to move Vista Grove's enabling legislation through the legislature in accordance with the process other new cities have used. Once this bill passes the legislature, and is signed by the new governor, it contemplates presentation of the question of creating a City of Vista Grove for a vote in November 2019. Donate here for that effort.
- Host an event. We want to make sure we have canvassed all of our Vista Grove neighborhoods and talked to as many residents as possible. If you belong to a local organization and can invite someone to speak about Vista Grove, or if you can host an event at your home and invite friends, this is a critical part of our effort. Sign up as a volunteer and check "hosting." It is a great chance to get friends together and work on an effort with immediate and positive impact on our future.
- Petition. Get five new names on our petition. Talk about Vista Grove with your friends and neighbors in our area. Make sure every registered voter in your household has also signed. Here is the petition link: www.vistagrove.org/petition We ask that they include both their name and address, so our legislators understand the breadth of community support. This is one area where every one of you can make a HUGE difference for us right now; if you encouraged just five new people a week to sign the petition, who themselves do the same, you yourself will be reaching hundreds of our Vista Grove friends and neighbors. Sign online, or print it out and get your neighbors to sign as well, then mail or email the signatures to us.
- Social media. Follow us, and encourage friends to follow us, on social media. Like us on Facebook at VistaGroveGA, and follow us on Twitter at VistaGroveGA.
- Task forces. Join a task force in an area of interest. We have task forces for community outreach, as well as in subject matter areas like parks, public safety, zoning, and roads. Go to www.vistagrove.org/taskforces
- Advocate – Contact your legislators. Your state senator and representative need to know that you want the opportunity to consider cityhood in an election. Let them know you want to vote on cityhood. Here is a list of our elected representatives. Call and write - let them know you value our Vista Grove community and are interested in having a bill introduced to permit further consideration and discussion on a City of Vista Grove.
Like other cities around us, Vista Grove will work closely with the county in partnership to ensure complete efficient delivery of public services. Vista Grove will remain within DeKalb County, and as such benefits from partnership with the county to better cover the spectrum of public services, meeting local needs locally while supporting the county where scale and flexibility makes sense.
Our bill consists of our charter, which itemizes the powers and regulations for operating our city. A copy is available on our Documents page.
We will have a mayor and six council members, each representing approximately 10,000 residents, and each must live within the area that they serve.