On January 29, the Council for Quality Growth, in partnership with the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce, held a State of the County address for DeKalb County. CEO Burrell Ellis addressed the capacity crowd of 450, and described the past year within the county and his vision for a direction DeKalb will embark in the upcoming year.
CEO Ellis stated that, “Through partnership, we have accomplished some remarkable things.” He elaborated by describing the different partnerships the county has created and how those partnerships have benefited the county.
Some of the projects included:
U.S. Department of Energy
Renewable Energy Facility
Compressed Natural Gas Station
This project is the environmental equivalent of taking 30,000 cars off the road each year as well as reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 17,000 tons.
U.S. Department of Labor
DeKalb County Mobile Career Center
This initiative visited over 200 locations across the county, providing assistance with jobs placement, training, and other services to help DeKalb citizens to get back to work.
State and Local Government
Streetscape improvements on major thoroughfares
Expanded the pedestrian walkways and bike paths throughout the county
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
In the process of building 2 new senior centers with another one on the way
CEO Ellis described his plan to work with the Commissioners, “to develop a budget that is lean, responsible, and responsive to our constituents’ priorities” by identifying innovative ways to increase non-tax revenue to support his plan to strengthen the county in four ways.
- Realign Police Precincts
- Hire 25 additional police officers
This aligns with the county’s long term plan to meet national standards.
- Provide funding for additional training for front-line employees
- Upgrade technology
- Comprehensive overhaul of permit and licensing operations
The goal is to reorganize and modernize the process of obtaining permits and licenses into a “one stop shop” in order to drastically reduce the time it takes to issue permits and business licenses.
- Budget recommendations to provide funding to begin design and construction on a new animal services facility
In passing these funds in the new budget, it would allow DeKalb to not only upgrade their out dated facility but allow them to build a new facility that could be a model for the nation.
Fourth, Fair Compensation for Our Employees:
- Cost-of-living adjustment of 3% to lowest paid workers
Although the county cannot afford to give a cost-of-living adjustment, this would give a 3% adjustment to those employees that are making less than a “living wage” as defined by the national standards.
CEO Ellis additionally talked about how he had asked the General Assembly to remove the restrictions that limit the counties ability to increase the sales tax for purpose of capital improvement, economic development, transportation, and infrastructure maintenance. He believes DeKalb is at a competitive disadvantage with its neighboring counties.
The CEO finished strong stating “A great community that sees strength in its struggle; because it is that ongoing struggle that assures us a successful future steeped in potential, hope and possibility. I am excited about what tomorrow holds for DeKalb County. Our past successes, although good, will not be the sole determinate of our legacy. We still have more work to do.”
The Council for Quality Growth looks forward to working with CEO Ellis and DeKalb County in all areas of economic development.