DeKalb County’s chief financial officer told residents considering whether to be annexed into the city of Chamblee they could expect tax bills to rise if they become part of a city.

“It is likely that the overall tax bill will go up … you will

Julia Sellers, left, and Blanche Collins sort through questions for county officials during a community meeting Sept. 11, 2012, to discuss annexation into Chamblee of neighborhoods near Dresden Drive. Audience members wrote the questions on note cards.

be paying for city services,” DeKalb CFO Joel Gottlieb told about 100 residents gathered at Dresden Elementary School on Sept. 11.

Residents in an area of the county between I-85 and Clairmont Road will vote Nov. 6 on whether to be annexed into the city of Chamblee. The annexation vote, approved by the state Legislature earlier this year, was a response to efforts to create a city of Brookhaven. Brookhaven voters created the new city in a July 31 election.

Gottlieb said county taxes have risen recently as officials have responded to a drop in property values unlike any he’d seen in 37 years of government service. County officials reduced their payroll sharply, he said, but still had to raise the tax rate in 2011.

“We have had to cut back. Most of what we spend is on personnel services,” he said. “We can innovate, but when it all comes down to it, it’s people. The number working in the county has declined by about 1,000 people in the last five years. Does that make service delivery a little harder? Yes. ”

Gottlieb and officials from the county police and code enforcement departments answered questions submitted by residents during a community meeting organized by a group called Members of Chamblee Annexation Yes or No.  The group says a second meeting, scheduled for Oct. 25, will feature Chamblee city officials.

County officials said they could not argue for or against the annexation, but attended the meeting to provide residents information they could use when deciding how to vote.

Maj. R. Ellison, commander of the county police department’s North DeKalb precinct, said the precinct benefits from being part of a large department, which can draw on hundreds of officers during an emergency and employs detectives and owns specialized equipment such as helicopters.  “That’s what DeKalb police give you as citizens, is the depth of the department,” he said.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.