City Council supports ending term limits in Tucker; annexing Northlake parcels

A map of the Northlake annexation area. Image obtained via the city of Tucker

Tucker, GA — Mayor Frank Auman and City Council members can be reelected indefinitely if a resolution passed at the Feb. 22 council meeting is approved by the legislature. Eliminating term limits was a recommendation made by Tucker’s Charter Commission, a board of nine appointed residents who reviewed the city’s charter in 2018.

DeKalb County has no municipalities with term limits on City Council members.

The Charter Commission’s recommendations, held up by the Georgia legislature during the pandemic, will be presented to the Georgia General Assembly by State Rep. Billy Mitchell.

Mitchell said term limits are unconstitutional, and a limitation of first amendment rights.

“The reality is, every time there is an election there is a possible term limit,” said Mitchell, an 18-year veteran of the Georgia House who is currently working on eliminating Confederate symbols from Stone Mountain. 

Charter Commission chair Derik West said if an elected official has the experience and willingness to serve, they should be able to stay in office. It was a unanimous decision by the Charter Commission to eliminate term limits.

Council members also unanimously passed a resolution to annex a segment of unincorporated DeKalb County near Northlake Mall. Mayor Auman said 22 parcels adjacent to the current boundaries of Tucker form a practical, though not actual, unincorporated island. The parcels contain a mix of commercial and residential plots. This annexation would need to be approved by the Legislature.

By annexing the land, said Auman, services like installation of new sidewalks, road resurfacing and code enforcement will be efficiently and effectively improved.

According to Tucker communications director Matt Holmes, city staff attempted to reach property owners, some out of state, without success. Holmes said some properties are owned by more than one party, which creates a challenge in annexation.”As we seek to get our 2021 SPLOST road resurfacing campaign started, we really would like to see this hole in our map filled so that we can provide a superior level of service to these areas that are contiguous to our boundary (i.e. paving an entire road, rather than stopping midway at the city boundary),” said Holmes.

“This resolution will be forwarded to the DeKalb delegation, who will send it to the General Assembly’s legislative council. They will then draft the bill. This is local legislation, so it doesn’t go to committees or have to meet crossover requirements. It just needs assembly approval. We feel that this particular resolution is a good practice for ensuring a level of service delivery and we certainly hope the initiative will move forward,” said Holmes.

Finance director Robert Porche presented a financial update, reporting all departments are currently under budget. Tucker’s total General Fund Revenues are at 56 percent, property tax collections are at 116 percent and expenditures are at 50 percent. While hotel/motel taxes are down 27 percent, Porche said SPLOST dollars are coming in above target – meaning all Parks and Recreation projects and roadwork projects will be funded in FY21.

Parks and Recreation director Rip Robertson presented a plan for Church Street Park, the plot at 4316 Church Street acquired by the City in October. Just two blocks from a future trail leading to Main Street and a nearby senior living facility, Robertson said an adult gym built on the site will serve active Tucker residents.

In other news:

– Mayor Auman declared American March Red Cross Month noting that last year, the organization came to the aid of more than 1,100 residents of Tucker and DeKalb County with food, lodging and recovery support following fires. Longtime Tucker resident Mark Daddona, Red Cross Mental Health Services Supervisor, thanked the mayor and council. “We could not be helping all the people we help in Tucker and DeKalb County without the support of people in our community and across DeKalb County and across the country,” said Daddona.

– Tucker Restaurant Week runs Feb. 24-28, featuring 18 restaurants in the city. “People might be a little surprised that we’ve having Restaurant Week in the middle of a pandemic, and that’s a good thing,” said Auman. “We’re surprising people by working harder, being innovative, being more creative, finding a way to make it work and finding a way to make our restaurants know we want them to be successful.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the annexation process for this property. This story has been updated with the correct information. 

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