Tucker voters to decide if city should take over more services from DeKalb

Tucker City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Editor’s note: To all local media outlets, if you didn’t attend this meeting, please have the professional integrity to credit our work if you’re going to write your own story “inspired” by our reporting. Sincerely, the Tucker Observer team. 

Tucker, GA — Residents in Tucker will answer an important question on the ballot in November.

Should the city take over the management of roads, drainage and stormwater from DeKalb County? 

At the July 11 meeting, City Council voted 7-0 to allow residents a voice in the future of city services. If the referendum passes, the city would end an InterGovernmental Agreement (IGA) with DeKalb in July 2023, making the city of Tucker responsible for roadway maintenance, traffic services, transportation services and stormwater. 

Other cities have made the same move, including Chamblee and Brookhaven.

It will come at a cost to residents. Roads and drainage is paid for by the millage rate. Now at .848, the millage rate could jump as high as 3 mils. To cover stormwater services, residents will see a hike in ERUs (equivalent residential unit), now $4 per month from DeKalb County. It could go up to $6 per month, according to Mayor Frank Auman. 

Taking over public works, said Auman, “allows us to prioritize where money is spent, gives us control over the quality and the schedule of the services.” 

Auman anticipates the city needs about $4 million to get up and running. The city would hire staff and lease or buy necessary equipment. 

American Rescue Plan Act funds can be used for public works, Auman pointed out. The city has spent approximately $2.4 million on the purchase of the future town green in downtown and financial assistance to residents through NETWorks Cooperative Ministry. Tucker’s ARPA balance is currently about $4 million from the first tranche of funds.  

Previously, the city council held lengthy discussions about adding a referendum to the 2021 ballot, but delayed a referendum to “allow staff to develop a partnership between the city and the county.” 

Despite monthly meetings with DeKalb, response times have lengthened dramatically, and an existing backlog has grown according to a presentation at the council meeting. 

Councilmember Anne Lerner has pushed for the referendum since early discussions. 

“I think the people that we’ve talked to in DeKalb may be quite pleased that we’re leaving because we are the person who tries to hold them accountable to that contract,” said Lerner.  

The city is planning to roll out an educational campaign this week. Public input meetings will be held from August to October.  

Here’s a full list of services that will be provided if the referendum passes:

– Traffic signals and timing 

– Traffic calming and signs

– Bridge maintenance

– Transportation engineering

– Pavement marking

– Asphalt patching

– Pothole repair

– Landscaping

– Concrete maintenance and repair

– Catch basin repair

– Street sweeping

– Streetlights

– Emergency response for downed trees or flooding

– Removal of dead animals 

– Utility permitting

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