Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May created a charter review commission to recommend changes to the county’s form of government. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com

Citizen panel created to reform DeKalb’s government

Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May is forming a group of 15 citizens to suggest changes to the county’s form of government, potentially including an elimination of the CEO position.

The DeKalb Charter Review Commission will conduct a yearlong study of the county’s governmental structure and make recommendations for state lawmakers to consider in 2018, according to an executive order May signed Monday.

DeKalb is the only county in Georgia with an elected CEO in charge of the executive branch, and legislation that would have abolished the role didn’t pass the Georgia General Assembly this year. Opponents of the measure, Senate Bill 378, said a charter review was needed before deciding on the county’s form of government.

“It is important that we establish a platform for the citizens of DeKalb County to engage in a deliberate discussion related to the county’s governance structure,” said May, who supports ending the county’s CEO-led government, in a statement.

May took action to create the review commission following the failure of legislation, Senate Bill 421, which would have done the same thing.

“Frankly it is in our best interest to ensure that DeKalb citizens are actively involved in a review, rather than having someone impose their preferred form of government upon DeKalb,” wrote DeKalb Commissioner Kathie Gannon in an email earlier this month.

The commission will start work by June 30 and make recommendations a year later. Its members will be appointed by May, county commissioners, state legislators, school board members, the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Municipal Association and the Association County Commissioners of Georgia.

Its budget will be $150,000, and any additional funding would have to be approved by the DeKalb Commission, according to May’s executive order.

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