DeKalb County's chief executive officer delivered his state of the county address Tuesday morning, stressing the theme of "the struggles of a great community."
In front of a packed audience, CEO Burrell Ellis talked about the importance of acknowledging DeKalb's accomplishments, but also its pitfalls. Among these accomplishments, he mentioned the opening of a renewable energy facility and a compression natural gas station at the Seminole landfill.
As for the pitfalls, Ellis told the audience that the dramatic drop in property values in DeKalb within the last five years has hurt the county. Values have dropped 25 percent countywide, while in unincorporated areas the decline has been 50 percent.
"Here in DeKalb County, we are in fact a great community. Yes, we have our struggles, but our struggles make us stronger and we have what it takes to withstand challenges and move forward and that is why I am encouraged," Ellis said.
The CEO also mentioned a need for a slight increase in taxes and an increase in wages for DeKalb's lowest paid employees. He also reasserted his desire to work closely with the county's board of commissioners. One topic Ellis did not address in his speech was the investigation on corruption that he is involved in.
In fact, this address took place weeks after investigators from the DeKalb County District Attorney's office raided the CEO's home and office in connection to a Watershed Management investigation.
This happened the same day Ellis testified before a special grand jury, investigating claims of corruption at that department. Authorities are looking to uncover what role, if any, the CEO played in any contracts that DeKalb has given out.