DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — County officials are admitting to a long list of problems with DeKalb County Code Enforcement as cited in a new report that criticizes the office.
While agreeing with all of the findings in the internal audit, the top administrator under CEO Michael Thurmond told Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher that the office has been plagued by mismanagement, low morale and unethical behavior since Thurmond took over five years ago.
Critics of the office say the leaders are just making more excuses to cover up for their own mistakes.
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“We need it done now. The stakeholders are frustrated. This county is turning into a, a ghetto,” Joel Edwards with organization Restore DeKalb said.
Edwards, along with Pedra Stokes, Joscelyn O’Neil and Joe Arrington, have been tracking what they say is DeKalb’s declining competence with code enforcement for the last 20 years.
They say far too many DeKalb County neighborhoods are plagued by eyesores and the personnel responsible for taking care of it, are not.
Arrington says that despite staffing levels in code enforcement being up, the violations and citations have gotten worse.
Thurmond argues the office has made great improvements to the county since he took over five years ago.
The most recent internal audit shows that many of the issues being cited now were brought up in another report from five years ago. Thurmond doesn’t deny that fact.
“[We are] not only agreeing with them, we’ve taken major steps to correct them,” Thurmond told Belcher. “I think it was a fair audit.”
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Thurmond says most of these issues are the result of internal IT problems that have dogged the county for years.
“We have five different systems being used by code enforcement officers. It’s not accurate. It’s obsolete, and it will be ended and a new system in place by the first quarter of 2023,” he said.
The code enforcement office is also asking DeKalb County residents and visitors to be more conscientious about the litter they’re throwing out.
“If you throw less litter on the ground, there’s less to be taken,” Thurmond said.
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As evidence of improvements made to the county, Thurmond told Belcher that since he took office, they have demolished 450 “crime-infested” old homes. They will also demolish the first of those homes since the pandemic later this week.
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