This year will go down as the year DeKalb County had to weather an “unperfect storm,” said Larry Johnson, presiding officer of the county’s Board of Commissioners.
The decrease in property values, increased pension payments and the poor national economy all combined to create this unpredicted financial storm, Johnson said during a recent luncheon of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce. All of this led to an $84 million budget deficit.
Regardless of the challenges it faced, Johnson said the county government made several significant accomplishments in 2010.
One success was the passing of the new noise ordinance, Johnson said.
“People can feel comfortable in their own homes without someone playing their music or making a lot of noise and disturbing their quality of life in our community.”
The noise ordinance, passed by the board in November, makes it unlawful for anyone to make any sound that is “plainly audible” anywhere inside a single-family dwelling between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. For multi-family dwellings, the sounds cannot extend into the common areas of the residential area.
Another accomplishment by the board was the way it redirected $36 million in federal stimulus bonds that were once proposed to be used for the redevelopment of the old GM facility in Doraville.
Of the money, the board directed about $7.6 million to be used for renovations to the Recorder’s Court, a police precinct on Buford Highway, and to establish a neighborhood justice center on Candler Road. Johnson said the neighborhood justice center will be a one-stop shop with representatives from the district attorney, solicitor and social services in one building.
The rest of the bond money, $28.4 million, will go to offset the cost of improving the county’s aging water and sewer system.
The county also started a foreclosure registry to ensure that foreclosed properties are properly maintained and secured. The ordinance requires all creditors who foreclose on a property to register the property with DeKalb County and pay a fee of $175.
Johnson said other achievements of the commission include a position-reduction policy to ensure that new employees are placed in the jobs in which they are needed the most; hiring a new court judge; and restoring funds to public safety.