It’s been tumultuous at times, according to DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May, but he said last year’s property tax cut shows the county is headed in the right direction as he looks ahead to his final months.
May, after having announced he won’t run for the office again, delivered his last State of the County address Thursday.
To hear May tell it, DeKalb County has gone from drained budgets during the recession to today’s stronger bond ratings. That proves DeKalb County is strong.
“We have really created, together with the board, such a strong foundation that it enabled us to cut taxes for the first time in over a decade,” said May. “But you know that didn’t get much coverage …”
May said DeKalb’s successes have been overshadowed by what he called the “distractions” of various ethics inquiries. He noted the GBI declined to investigate the county further after a scathing report May himself requested.
“I think that absolutely rebuffed [sic] the whole myth of DeKalb being fundamentally corrupt, or rotten to the core. Ya’ll know what I mean,” said May, who said if he had it to do over, he’d request the investigation, just not from the same people.
He pointed to the drafting of DeKalb’s Economic Strategic Plan as another success.
“We know now we have a plan moving forward. So regardless of who is at the helm in the CEO’s office, we have a plan that we can all buy into,” said May.
The plan, he said, strives to improve public safety, as well as beautify and make DeKalb more business friendly, primarily through improving their permitting process, which “has had issues, to say the least.”
May highlighted a pilot program he hopes will offer free, after-school care for middle school children.
“That’s something that’s going to cost a lot of money,” he said, adding that he would be looking to many of the business leaders in the room for help with the program.
In his remaining months, May said he plans to push voters to approve a 1 percent sales tax for infrastructure projects.
“We’ve really come to the point now that if we don’t address our infrastructure needs now, we’re going to have a crumbling DeKalb County. And we’re on the verge of that now,” he said.
A special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST, will be put to DeKalb voters in November.