For months, proponents and opponents have been focusing on convincing voters to vote “yes” or “no” on the ballot question to create a new city of Brookhaven, with residents inundated with mailers, phone calls, door to door canvassing and dozens of meetings. Once the results are in, the question becomes “what next?”
It was a driving issue in the creation of all the new cities. Sandy Springs was anxious to get control of local planning and zoning when Fulton County kept adding apartment complexes despite residents’ objections. In Dunwoody, opposition to apartments, high-density development and unwanted billboards motivated residents to vote for their own city and more local control.
More than 1,000 people packed Murphey Candler Park last weekend for a tournament sponsored by the Murphey Candler Girls’ Softball Association (MCGSA). The fields have been mowed, base lines chalked, bathrooms cleaned, bleachers repaired. Parent volunteers did most of the work. Welcome to the new reality in DeKalb county sports. You are on your own.
Stormwater maintenance is literally “out of sight, out of mind” for most residents who generally don’t worry about the vast network of underground pipes and open channels designed to direct rainwater to area streams and lakes as well as control flooding. That is, until a road or culvert collapses or streets and homes flood.
The bumpy street, the neck-jarring potholes, metal plates, and the intersections that always back up—all annoyances that make that daily commute, carpool or shopping trip so unpleasant. That’s why maintaining and improving roadways have become a high priority for the new cities that have formed and would be a key function taken over by the proposed city of Brookhaven.
Supporters hope that a new city of Brookhaven will have lower taxes than unincorporated DeKalb, but computing taxes involves multiple factors. To start with, taxes are computed based on the millage rate. DeKalb’s newest city of Dunwoody has the lowest millage rate in the county, with a city millage rate of 2.74 mills. Brookhaven’s proposed rate of 3.35 mills would be the second lowest.
At the heart of the debate over the proposed city of Brookhaven is the question of whether the tax base can support a new city. Supporters say “yes” and point to the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute (CVI) feasibility study, which concluded the proposed city would generate $28 million dollars in revenue. Opponents point out that Dunwoody has a larger commercial tax base and Brookhaven’s financial foundation falls on homeowners at a time when property values are still falling. To answer these questions, we broke down a number of key measures and compared Brookhaven’s numbers to Dunwoody, which is similar in size and population, although Brookhaven’s median income is lower and poverty rate higher.
Hundreds of residents turned out last week to learn more about the proposed city of Brookhaven at two town hall meetings hosted by state Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-north DeKalb). Jacobs, who has sponsored a bill to create the new city, to be voted on the legislative session that begins in January, outlined how he thought the new city could provide “lower taxes, better services and local control.”
J. Max Davis speaks to citizens in support of the city of Brookhaven during one of the ongoing meetings sponsored by Brookhaven Yes.
Fees for softball at Murphey Candler have skyrocketed.
The sparkling fields were built by the county, but maintenance, improvements and new shade awnings are done by parents.