- Is Vista Grove still feasible after the changes?
- Why Cityhood now?
- What services will the city offer?
- How will Vista Grove work with DeKalb County government?
- Isn't this just another layer of government?
- What's the representation that Vista Grove offers?
- What about ethics?
- What is the Vista Grove footprint?
- Will my property taxes go up?
- How can I help the Vista Grove movement?
Yes. These are the main questions that have come up:
Is Vista Grove still feasible after losing parts of Northlake Mall?
Yes. The portion of Northlake Mall annexed into Tucker accounts for $389,000 of tax revenue. That is less than 1% of the revenue of the city. The CVI study shows that Vista Grove would still be feasible.
Is Vista Grove still feasible without its own Police Department?
Yes. If Vista Grove partners with Dekalb County for public safety, police services would remain the same as they are now with possible enhancements over time as negotiated between Vista Grove and DeKalb County. Police taxes would stay with the County, and the expenses would also stay with the County.
Will Vista Grove receive SPLOST money?
Yes. Vista Grove will not immediately control SPLOST funds because Vista Grove was not in existence at the time when the original SPLOST law was enacted. The current SPLOST, however, will almost certainly be renewed in 2023, and if Vista Grove is a City at that time, it will be part of the renewed SPLOST law. Of course, while DeKalb County controls the funds for our area, Vista Grove will neither have the revenue nor the expenses of road maintenance and park acquisition, which would be paid by DeKalb County SPLOST.
Is Vista Grove still feasible if SPLOST is not renewed?
Yes. If SPLOST is not renewed the entire county will be affected. DeKalb County will receive $388 million from the current SPLOST. DeKalb County and its existing cities depend on SPLOST money for almost all capital improvement projects in the County. The governing bodies of the County and Cities would adjust for the loss of SPLOST by cutting costs and raising other taxes to make up the difference. In other words, Vista Grove would be in the same boat as the rest of the County.
Will Vista Grove be feasible for the long term?
Yes. None of the revenue or expenses happens instantaneously (almost none of the expenses occur in the first year), and that doesn’t matter. This is a long-term process with long term values and benefits. Cities are not for profit businesses and have a constitutional duty under Georgia law to have balanced budgets. Cities perform the services that they can afford to perform with the revenue available. Like many of our neighboring cities, Vista Grove can deliver some services in a more cost effective and efficient manner.
While the population of the metro area skyrockets, our physical infrastructure continues to age. Vista Grove needs a comprehensive, long-term plan to prepare for the future, and locally-sourced leadership to ensure implementation. The cities around us – Tucker, Brookhaven, Chamblee, and Doraville – prove that locally tuned, citizen-driven planning and clear action lead to consistent improvement, civic identity, and unified effort.
The 3 “P”s:
Paving - Roads and Drainage to include maintenance and improvement of the roadways and sidewalks
Planning – Planning, Zoning, Permitting, Licensing, Code Enforcement
Parks - Parks and Recreation to maintain and build new parks and recreational areas as well as event planning
Like other cities around us, Vista Grove will remain within the county, working in partnership with the county, to ensure efficient delivery of public services. In taking on the 3 P's (Planning, Paving, and Parks), Vista Grove shifts responsibility to local residents where local input and presence is more helpful. Vista Grove, for example, can ease the process for issuing business licenses while the county still continues to provide fire protection.
It's a little like shopping at your favorite grocery, but choosing to buy your bread at the bakery down the street. Instead of spending $100 at the grocery, you spend $94 at the grocery and $6 at the bakery. In supporting both the grocery and the bakery, you support what each does best.
No, there is no additional layer or duplication of services, only the transfer of responsibility for certain services from the county to the city.
Vista Grove significantly increases local representation. In Vista Grove (the proposed city would have approximately 30,000 to 33,000 residents), there will be a mayor and 6 council members - that's 1 council member for approximately every 5,000 people. Each council member could serve for up to three consecutive terms and must live in the area they serve. In DeKalb County, there are about 753,000 residents. Currently there are five county commissioners who represent about 151,000 residents and two super commissioners who represent approximately 377,000 residents.
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 preventing unethical activities. They include:
- Term limits for councilpersons and the mayor
- Non-partisan elections
- Monthly public meetings
- Strict requirements about disclosure, recusal and conflict of interest, which, if violated result in removal from the council
- Published monthly reports on the operations and expenditures of the city.
- Internal auditor review (at a minimum quarterly) of operations and expenditures confirming compliance with the city charter and the approved budget
We have several interactive maps on our web site where you can drill down to the parcel level.
We try to keep these maps up to date.
Aren't taxes much higher in cities?
The tax millage rate has not increased in any of the recently formed cities in DeKalb. In fact, the tax millage rate for Brookhaven and Dunwoody is less than in unincorporated DeKalb.
Here is a line by line comparison of the millage rates for all of the cities in DeKalb County. Atlanta's totals 44.0656
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 2020. 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 2020. 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.