Brookhaven Cityhood Meetings This Week

November 14, 2011

This is a friendly reminder that there are two town hall meetings this week to discuss the proposal to incorporate a City of Brookhaven.

There is likely to be a high level of interest in these meetings. The presentation at the beginning of each of these meetings will be the same. Two meetings have been scheduled so that, if one of them presents a schedule conflict, hopefully you can attend the other one.

Here are the two meetings:

Tuesday, November 15
7:00 p.m.
Cross Keys High School
1626 North Druid Hills Road

Thursday, November 17
7:00 p.m.
Montgomery Elementary School
3995 Ashford Dunwoody Road

To read the Brookhaven feasibility study and executive summary, click here. To view the possible city boundaries, click here.

I hope to see you on Tuesday or Thursday.


Cityhood Likely to Cut Property Taxes

November 8, 2011

The feasibility study for the proposed City of Brookhaven, performed by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia (CVI), has been released. Click here to read the report and executive summary.

The CVI study estimates that the proposed city’s annual revenues would be approximately $28.5 million and expenditures would be approximately $25.1 million, leaving a surplus of $3.4 million.

At 49,188 residents, the proposed City of Brookhaven would supplant Dunwoody as both the largest city in DeKalb County and 16th largest in the State of Georgia.

CVI also performed the feasibility study for the City of Dunwoody. A review of CVI’s track record with Dunwoody helps to show that their revenue and expenditure estimates are realistic and conservative. For example, in 2006 (a boom economy), CVI estimated that Dunwoody’s revenues would be $18,777,904. In its first full fiscal year in 2009 (after the economy tanked), Dunwoody’s actual revenues turned out to be $18,394,942, or two percent less than CVI estimated.

In the same study, CVI also predicted that Dunwoody’s total operating expenditures would be $15,571,573. In 2009, Dunwoody’s actual operating expenditures were $13,823,811, or eleven percent less than CVI estimated.

With a $3.4 million surplus, incorporating the City of Brookhaven is likely to result in a property tax cut.

To understand why this is the case, it is important to understand how the Special Services Tax District works. The Special Services Tax District is a line-item on your property tax bill that is used to pay for police, parks and recreation, roads and drainage, and planning, zoning, and land use. That is, it funds all of the local government services that a city could provide.

In 2011, the Special Services Tax District was bifurcated into two line-items, one for police and one for everything else. In 2010, the county charged a millage rate of 3.5 mills for the Special Services Tax District. In 2011, between the two line-items, the county increased that millage rate to 6.39 mills, a tax hike of 82 percent.

The millage rate is the factor by which the assessed value of your property is multiplied in order to arrive at the amount of property taxes that you pay.

If a city is incorporated, the new city does not add new taxes to your property tax bill to pay for police, parks and recreation, roads and drainage, and planning, zoning, and land use. Instead, the Special Services Tax District (all 6.39 mills of it) goes away completely and a new city tax takes its place.

Here’s the key: The proposed City of Brookhaven does not need 6.39 mills – or anything close to it – in order to provide a high level of service in the areas of police, parks and recreation, roads and drainage, and planning, zoning, and land use.

House Bill 636, the proposed charter for a City of Brookhaven, contains a millage cap that would prevent the city council from raising the city millage rate above a certain point without your vote in a citywide referendum. This is a benefit that does not exist in unincorporated DeKalb County.

Dunwoody was the first city to show that it is possible for a city to provide better services than DeKalb County at a lower cost. Brookhaven would be the second.

The trend toward lower taxes in DeKalb cities than in the unincorporated areas probably will not stop there. The cities of Chamblee and Decatur are on the verge of having lower overall millage rates than unincorporated DeKalb. Taxes in DeKalb are headed higher, while cities are holding the line and even cutting taxes. This is what Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd meant when he recently said on a local Decatur blog: “The contention that living in unincorporated DeKalb County offers less taxes is quickly dissolving.”

As a reminder, I am hosting two town hall meetings about the City of Brookhaven proposal:

Tuesday, November 15
7:00 p.m.
Cross Keys High School
1626 North Druid Hills Road

Thursday, November 17
7:00 p.m.
Montgomery Elementary School
3995 Ashford Dunwoody Road

The presentation in both of these meetings will be identical. If one of them presents a schedule conflict, I hope you will be able to attend the other one.


Brookhaven Cityhood Meetings

November 4, 2011

I have scheduled two town hall meetings to discuss with you the results of the soon-to-be released feasibility study for a City of Brookhaven.

There is likely to be a high level of interest in these meetings. The presentation at the beginning of each of these meetings will be the same. Two meetings have been scheduled so that, if one of them presents a schedule conflict, hopefully you can attend the other one.

Here are the two meetings:

Tuesday, November 15
7:00 p.m.
Cross Keys High School
1626 North Druid Hills Road

Thursday, November 17
7:00 p.m.
Montgomery Elementary School
3995 Ashford Dunwoody Road

To view the Brookhaven study area, click here. I plan to write at greater length about the feasibility study as soon as it is released.


Ashford Dunwoody Makes the List

November 4, 2011

I am pleased to report that the Atlanta Regional Roundtable, on which I served, has allocated $5 million to improve Ashford Dunwoody Road between I-285 and Peachtree Road. The funding will happen if voters approve the T-SPLOST referendum next year.

This project most likely will take the form of traffic flow improvements at the bottleneck of Ashford Dunwoody and Johnson Ferry Roads as well as new and repaired (but not widened) sidewalks to ensure that the entire corridor is walkable.

Someone spent an absurd amount of time and resources flyering neighborhoods about a “roundabout plan” at the intersection of Ashford Dunwoody and Johnson Ferry. There is no such plan.

Rumors of widening and four-laning Ashford Dunwoody are likewise false. There could be a turn lane added where necessary, such as a left turn lane at Perimeter Summit Parkway. However, all of this will be driven by community input.

To learn more about the Atlanta Regional Roundtable and the T-SPLOST project list, please visit www.atlantaregionalroundtable.com.


My Take on Tuesday’s E-SPLOST Vote

November 4, 2011

This is a friendly reminder that there is an election coming up on Tuesday, November 8. Your regular polling place will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. that day. There is one question on the ballot in unincorporated DeKalb as to whether or not you want to renew for a period of five years the E-SPLOST one-cent sales tax that goes to DeKalb school building projects.

Click here to see the sample ballot for the election. Click here and scroll down to review the list of projects that is proposed to be funded by the E-SPLOST if it is passed.

A few constituents have asked how I will be voting on the E-SPLOST. Despite the fact that there are ample reasons to be angry with the school system’s past management of school construction funds, I will be voting in favor of it.

If the E-SPLOST is not passed, homeowners will see an immediate increase in their property taxes because a homestead exemption will be revoked by operation of law. I prefer sales taxes to property taxes, particularly because everybody (not just homeowners) and a substantial number of people from outside DeKalb (think Perimeter Mall and the Brookhaven Costco) pays them. Furthermore, I view it as positive that part of the funding is allocated to the overdue new facility at Chamblee High School.

Some constituents have asked me whether the legislation that I helped to pass reducing the size of the school board from nine to seven members is tied to the E-SPLOST vote. While this is technically true, I do not view it as a reason to vote for or against the E-SPLOST. I am certain the General Assembly will take whatever steps are necessary in the 2012 legislative session to ensure that this important reform takes effect next year as planned.


Sunday Sales, But Not in DeKalb

November 4, 2011

Conspicuously absent from the countywide ballot in DeKalb County is a referendum to allow Sunday sales of alcohol. I supported Senate Bill 10 (click for information), the legislation that enables local communities to decide this issue via public referendum.

Our neighboring cities of Chamblee, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, and Atlanta will be voting on this question next Tuesday. If you are in unincorporated DeKalb, however, the county has yet to do anything regarding Sunday sales.


DeKalb Delegation Public Hearing

November 4, 2011

The state legislators from DeKalb County will hold a public hearing on Thursday, November 10, at 6:00 p.m. at Chamblee Middle School, 3601 Sexton Woods Drive. This is an opportunity to make your voice heard on the state and local issues that matter to you.


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