DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester talks to residents at a March 12 town hall at Brookhaven City Hall.
DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester talks to residents at a March 12 town hall at Brookhaven City Hall.

DeKalb’s recent budget vote, high water bills in Brookhaven and changes to sanitation services were some of the topics on Nancy Jester’s mind when she spoke to a group of about 25 residents at Brookhaven City Hall on March 12.

“We are definitely bloated and not offering the best competent service,” Jester added. She said she thinks there are inefficiencies, particularly in the county’s human resources and finance departments. Jester explained that later this month an efficiency study will be conducted and that she’s looking forward to the results.

She said that the finance department, not the watershed department, is in charge of water billing. “The finance department of your county, the one that I think is poorly run, is in charge of your billing.”

Many residents have recently complained of disproportionately high water bills, and 8,500 bills went out in January with erroneous cutoff notices after bills didn’t go out to those residents in December . Jester said she doesn’t anticipate that situation improving anytime soon.

“I have absolutely no faith . . . in that department.,” she said. “Until it gets reformed, I don’t think we are going to see vast improvements there.” However, she added that some improvements have been seen in the county’s customer service department, which was outsourced.

Jester also talked about changes coming to garbage collection in the county.

DeKalb residents can expect to go to once-a-day trash pickup during the summer, the District 1 county commissioner said at the town hall.

But the city of Brookhaven could negotiate with the county to adjust that schedule, meaning residents could stay at the current four-day-a-week pickup, a two-day schedule or something different, she said.

“The good thing about being in Brookhaven, if you don’t like, the city can negotiate with the county to have a another [schedule],” Jester said.

She also addressed a resident’s question about whether rates would go up, explaining that the current rate will remain the same unless the city council asks the county for a different schedule.

Jester told residents that the change is expected to happen in phases during the peak summertime hours when there is more daylight. She said it would take that length of time for new garbage bins to be distributed to everyone.

Jester was less enthused about DeKalb’s recent budget vote.

“It think it’s absurd,” she said, referring to the increase in millage rate for county residents living in incorporated areas like Brookhaven.

Jester said she likes the “municipal movement” underway in DeKalb.

“I think the county’s continuing to not be effective for you,” she said. “In Dunwoody new sidewalks weren’t going in for decades” but now they are.

When one resident asked if DeKalb’s CEO structure would ever change, Jester responded, “I hope so, but hope is not a method.”

She encouraged citizens to email their representatives with their wishes.

“Your voice is very powerful,” she said. “It’s probably more powerful than you think it is.”