When certain truths become less evident | www.myajc.com


When certain truths become less evident | www.myajc.com

When in the Course of human events, it became necessary for the people of Dunwoody to dissolve the political bands which had connected them with DeKalb County, they held these truths to be self-evident: That the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitled them to a millage rate of no more than 3.04.

At least, that is, until such time as they, themselves, through their own votes — and not through the machinations of the politicians on the City Council — might choose to amend the millage cap.

“Sacred” was a word invoked more than once last week as angry Dunwoodians assailed five of their fellows, convened to review the city’s charter, for proposing to mess with the millage cap established five years ago in that charter.

From Sandy Springs to Milton to Brookhaven, the principle of bringing government closer to home has been a galvanizing force in these parts for decades. We can’t trust those bums at the opposite end of the county, who just want to take our money, the founders of one new city after another agreed. But up here, we’re neighbors — family, even.

It was all about “not having to go to Decatur to plead my case; I could plead it to my neighbor,” in the words of charter review commission member Mallard Holliday.

Only it turns out that a government isn’t exactly like a family. It’s more like a government. And people you elect to office, even if they’re your neighbors, may begin to look like politicians.

They may fall prey to the allure of shiny gewgaws like roundabouts, multi-use trails or fancified parkways, three issues that have recently riven the townspeople. Or, they might take it into their heads that perhaps someday the city may want to have its own fire department instead of continuing to contract with DeKalb.

And to pay for that, you’d have to crash right through that sacred 3.04 millage barrier. Which would be no problem, as long as the citizens voted to do it.

But elections cost money, and they take time (this is the politicians thinking, now). So maybe it would be better to amend the charter to say that, just for the purposes of fire protection, the council could decide to exceed the cap — as long as the increase was no more than folks were already paying the county.

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