Cityhood Public Hearing This Tuesday

January 29, 2012

The House Governmental Affairs Committee will hear public comment on House Bill 636, the proposed Brookhaven city charter, this Tuesday, January 31, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Room 341 of the State Capitol.

BrookhavenYES, the citizens’ advocacy group supporting the proposal, is organizing a bus and carpools for supporters to attend the meeting. Click here for more information and to RSVP. The bus and carpools will leave Brookhaven at 1:15 p.m.

Also, click here to review the PowerPoint presentation that I made the House Governmental Affairs Committee this past week. Please contact me if you have any questions about it.


Pages Needed for 2012 Legislative Session

January 29, 2012

Each year, I host ten school-age children from House District 80, ages 12 and older, to serve as pages for a day during the legislative session. Pages get to see the legislative process first-hand, receive an excused absence from school, have their photograph taken with their legislator and the Speaker of the House, and are provided lunch.

If your child would like to serve as a legislative page, please e-mail me at [email protected] and include in your message your street address and a telephone number where you can be reached. The ten spaces will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis and are only available to residents of House District 80.

Please click here to view a map to determine whether you live in House District 80.


Brookhaven Cut to DeKalb’s Higher Property Taxes

January 29, 2012

On the heels of DeKalb County’s 2011 property tax hike, the millage cap for the proposed City of Brookhaven will be set at 3.35 mills in the Brookhaven city charter as it moves forward in the 2012 session of the General Assembly. In addition, the homestead exemption for city property taxes will be increased from $10,000 to $20,000.

Remember that cityhood does not add property taxes to your tax bill. Instead, it shifts two of the existing county line items to the city, enabling us to keep those resources here at home. If you vote in favor of cityhood at the ballot box this July, it also will slash the rate at which these taxes are charged, cap that rate, and double the applicable homestead exemption.

The millage cap is a mechanism that prevents city property taxes from going higher than a certain rate without approval by the citizens in a public referendum. It is a benefit that does not exist in unincorporated DeKalb County.

What does this mean for you?

It guarantees virtually all homeowners a property tax cut, even if the city council sets the millage rate at the full 3.35 mills.

However, the need for the Brookhaven city council to use the full 3.35 mills is doubtful. Property taxes are likely to be lower than 3.35 mills. In its feasibility study for the proposed city, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia (CVI) estimated that expenditures would be $25.1 million. The City of Dunwoody, a similarly situated city in terms of population and geography, anticipates 2012 expenditures of $20.9 million. The new millage cap will reduce the CVI estimated surplus for Brookhaven from $3.4 million to approximately $261,348. Based upon Dunwoody’s actual expenditures, this estimated surplus is in excess of an already generous expenditure estimate.

The $261,348 surplus is on par with the CVI estimated surplus for Dunwoody when it became a city. In the Dunwoody feasibility study published in 2006, CVI projected a surplus of $278,789. In 2009, Dunwoody’s first year of operations, its actual expenditures were roughly $1.75 million less than that. This shows that CVI’s estimates are indeed conservative.

With a $20,000 homestead exemption, the City of Brookhaven would need to charge 3.22 mills to generate revenues equal to its estimated expenditures of $25.1 million. If expenditures are like those of Dunwoody, $20.9 million, then the necessary millage rate drops to 1.16 mills.

Here is a quantification of the real tax dollars associated with the property tax cut that the City of Brookhaven could provide:

A homeowner with a $100,000 assessed property value currently pays DeKalb County $273 for municipal services. That homeowner would pay $93 if Brookhaven’s expenditures equal Dunwoody’s $20.9 million, $258 if Brookhaven’s expenditures equal the CVI estimate of $25.1 million, and $268 if Brookhaven must use the full 3.35 millage cap.

A homeowner with a $200,000 assessed value currently pays DeKalb $610. That homeowner would pay $209 if Brookhaven’s expenditures equal Dunwoody, $580 if Brookhaven’s expenditures equal the CVI estimate, and $603 if Brookhaven must use the full millage cap.

A homeowner with a $300,000 assessed value currently pays DeKalb $946. That homeowner would pay $325 if Brookhaven’s expenditures equal Dunwoody, $902 if Brookhaven’s expenditures equal the CVI estimate, and $938 if Brookhaven must use the full millage cap.

A homeowner with a $400,000 assessed value currently pays DeKalb $1,283. That homeowner would pay $441 if Brookhaven’s expenditures equal Dunwoody, $1,224 if Brookhaven’s expenditures equal the CVI estimate, and $1,273 if Brookhaven must use the full millage cap.

The 3.35 mill cap would lower Brookhaven’s property taxes to a rate less than the 3.5 mills that existed before DeKalb County increased this rate in 2011 to 6.39 mills.

I look forward to working with citizens to bring Brookhaven a more responsive local government that guarantees lower property taxes and lives within its means.


District 80 Town Hall Meeting

January 24, 2012

I will hold a town hall meeting to talk about the 2012 legislative session and answer questions for my constituents on Thursday, February 16, at 7:00 p.m. in the Talmage Room of the Student Center of Oglethorpe University. Topics will include the City of Brookhaven, transportation, education, and any other subjects you would like to discuss.


Brookhaven Hearings Begin Today

January 24, 2012

The House Governmental Affairs Committee will be holding the first of two or three hearings on House Bill 636, the Brookhaven city charter, today at 2:00 p.m. You can watch it online by clicking this link.

Click here to read the bill that will be considered in the Governmental Affairs Committee. This is a substitute bill that has a few differences from the bill that is currently posted on the House website.

I have asked the Carl Vinson Institute of Government (CVI) at the University of Georgia to double check, triple check, and quadruple check the millage cap that is contained in HB 636 to ensure that it provides all homeowners a property tax cut, even if the city needs to use the full millage cap, which is highly unlikely.

The millage cap that CVI recommended is 3.35 mills, which is contained in the bill.

The millage cap is a mechanism that prevents city property taxes from going higher than a certain rate without approval by the citizens in a public referendum. It is a benefit that does not exist in unincorporated DeKalb County.

Remember that cityhood does not add property taxes to your tax bill. Instead, it shifts two of the existing county line items to the city, enabling us to keep those resources here at home.

Click here to review a supplemental report prepared by CVI that reconciles the new millage cap with the Brookhaven feasibility study (click for link) that was released in November 2011.

The supplemental report projects a surplus of $261,348 in excess of the proposed city’s estimated expenditures. This is very similar to the CVI projected surplus for the City of Dunwoody, which was $278,789. Dunwoody was able to reduce its actual expenditures by an additional $1.75 million in its first year of operations, bringing its surplus to more than $2 million.

Finally, click here to view the final map that will be presented to the House Governmental Affairs Committee. Compared to the previous version, this map includes four additional parcels east of Clairmont Road and north of West Hardee Avenue, across the street from Ashford Park and including the 57th Fighter Group Restaurant.


Property Tax Cut for Brookhaven Homeowners

January 16, 2012

On the heels of DeKalb County’s 2011 property tax hike, the millage cap for the proposed City of Brookhaven will be set at 3.4 mills in the Brookhaven city charter as it moves forward in the 2012 session of the General Assembly. In addition, the homestead exemption for city property taxes will be increased from $10,000 to $20,000.

Remember that cityhood does not add property taxes to your tax bill. Instead, it shifts two of the existing county line items to the city, enabling us to keep those resources here at home. If you vote in favor of cityhood at the ballot box this July, it also will slash the rate at which these taxes are charged, cap that rate, and double the applicable homestead exemption.

The millage cap is a mechanism that prevents city property taxes from going higher than a certain rate without approval by the citizens in a public referendum. It is a benefit that does not exist in unincorporated DeKalb County.

What does this mean for you?

It guarantees virtually all homeowners a property tax cut, even if the city council sets the millage rate at the full 3.4 mills.

However, the need for the Brookhaven city council to use the full 3.4 mills is doubtful. Property taxes are likely to be lower than 3.4 mills. The Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia estimated that city expenditures would be $25.1 million. The City of Dunwoody, a similarly situated city in terms of population and geography, anticipates 2012 expenditures of $20.9 million. The new millage cap will reduce the Carl Vinson Institute’s estimated surplus for Brookhaven from $3.4 million to approximately $362,878. Based upon Dunwoody’s actual expenditures, this estimated surplus is in excess of an already generous expenditure estimate.

With a $20,000 homestead exemption, the City of Brookhaven would need to charge 3.22 mills to generate revenues equal to its estimated expenditures of $25.1 million.

The 3.4 mill cap would lower Brookhaven’s property taxes to a rate less than the 3.5 mills that existed before DeKalb County increased this rate in 2011 to 6.39 mills.

I look forward to working with citizens to bring Brookhaven a more responsive local government that guarantees lower property taxes and lives within its means.


City Limits for Brookhaven Proposal

January 16, 2012

There have been concerns about the proposed boundaries of the City of Brookhaven almost completely surrounding the existing City of Chamblee.  To alleviate these concerns, the final city boundaries that will be proposed in the city charter will exclude the southern half of PDK Airport.  The northern half of PDK Airport is already in the City of Chamblee.

Click here to view the final city limits in a PDF document.  After clicking the link, you may need to click “refresh” in your web browser for the map to appear on your screen.

DeKalb County officials have convinced me that there is no real benefit to having PDK in the city limits.  The county and the FAA control the airport.  The City of Brookhaven would exercise no control over it.

Commercial properties located directly across Clairmont Road from the Ashford Park and Drew Valley neighborhoods are proposed to remain within the city limits.

The exclusion of the airport has a negligible impact on the viability of the proposed city.


Diverging Diamond Construction Starts This Week

January 16, 2012

Construction on the new “diverging diamond” interchange at Ashford Dunwoody Road and Interstate 285 is scheduled to begin this week. Click here, here, and here for more information on the design of the new interchange. Construction is anticipated to be completed in September.

When done, you’ll be driving on the wrong side of the road. No kidding. The new design is touted to improve traffic flow at the interchange.


BrookhavenYES Meeting on Tuesday

January 16, 2012

BrookhavenYES, the citizens’ advocacy group for the proposed City of Brookhaven, is holding an organizational meeting this Tuesday, January 17, at 7:00 p.m. in Lupton Auditorium in the main building of Oglethorpe University. If you support cityhood for Brookhaven, please consider attending this meeting to find out how you can help your fellow citizens advocate for it.

Previous messages about this meeting have stated that it would be held in Oglethorpe’s student center. Please note that the location has been changed to Lupton Auditorium.


Brookhaven’s Millage Cap and Homestead Exemption

January 6, 2012

The millage cap for the proposed City of Brookhaven will be set at 3.4 mills in HB 636, the Brookhaven city charter, as it moves forward in the 2012 session of the General Assembly.  In addition, the homestead exemption for city property taxes will be increased from $10,000 to $20,000. The legislative session begins this Monday, January 9.

The millage cap is a mechanism that prevents city property taxes from going higher than a certain rate without approval by the citizens in a public referendum.  It is a benefit that does not exist in unincorporated DeKalb County.

This guarantees virtually all homeowners a property tax cut, even if the city council sets the millage rate at the full 3.4 mills.

However, the need for the Brookhaven city council to use the full 3.4 mills is doubtful.  Property taxes are likely to be lower than 3.4 mills.  The Carl Vinson Institute of Government estimated that city expenditures would be $25.1 million.  The City of Dunwoody, a similarly situated city in terms of population and geography, anticipates 2012 expenditures of $20.9 million.  The new millage cap will reduce the Carl Vinson Institute’s estimated surplus for Brookhaven from $3.4 million to approximately $362,878.  Based upon Dunwoody’s actual expenditures, this estimated surplus is in excess of an already generous expenditure estimate.

With a $20,000 homestead exemption, the City of Brookhaven would need to charge 3.22 mills to generate revenues equal to its estimated expenditures of $25.1 million.

The 3.4 mill cap would lower Brookhaven’s property taxes to a rate less than the 3.5 mills that existed before DeKalb County increased this rate in 2011 to 6.39 mills.

I look forward to working with citizens to bring Brookhaven a more responsive local government that guarantees lower property taxes and lives within its means.


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