In late May and again in late June, there have been two town meetings, regarding the creation of the new city of Brookhaven, GA. Each meeting was conducted by people who did or did not seem to be in favor of the cityhood of Brookhaven
The areas being considered for a City of Brookhaven are currently in unicorporated Dekalb. These property owners pay their taxes to the county, in exchange for certain services. The organizers for a push to citydom, it seems to me, are pushing an agenda of what is in it for them, rather than what is in it for the taxpayers.
To incorporate into a city in Georgia, the city must provide a minimum of three services. These services cannot be overlapped (ie; one can't have two police departments). At the second town hall meeting, Jim Grubiak, of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia said, 'is the perception the same as the reality?'. Grubiak said that what leads citizens to create a new city is:
- Communication (or lack of communication);
- Planning and Land Use;
- Resource allocation;
- Representation: are officials listening?
Are county officials listening to North Dekalb residents/taxpayers? Does the creation of a City of Brookhaven warrant the extra money and bonds that must be raised to substantiate the new city?
What will the new city bring to its residents? Some negative considerations to consider are:
- The probability of higher taxes *;
- Needed government buildings;
- Employees, equipment (this could be as small as copiers and as large as police cars).
Dekalb County's police department has Swat & Riot Units, a Detectives Unit, a Gang Unit, Narcotics unit, Vice Unit, two police helicopters; would these services go away with the creation of a Brookhaven police force?
The portion of the meeting that I didn't understand, were the areas to which a study will apply ( the study is being done by The Vinson Institute of the University of Georgia, and is being paid for, by the GA legislature). The areas being considered for cityhood are: Historic Brookhaven, Murphy Candler, Brittany, Linwood Park, Silver Lake, Brookhaven Heights, Lenox Park and Brookhaven Fields. Another broader section of the study will include Ashford Park and Drew Valley. The latter two, in my opinion, are closer to being a part of a City of Brookhaven, than Murphy Candler, Silver Lake and Brittany. But then, one of the proponents of citydom, Rep. Jacobs, lives in the Murphy Candler area.
One of the points that the organizers made, was that taxes would probably (???) not go up. The residents of Brookhaven would pay less to the county and the balance of the taxes would be made to the new city. In other words, if the City of Brookhaven opts to create its own police and fire departments, tax payers would pay that portion of taxes to the city and deduct it from their county-paid taxes. It is like a basket of services: pick which ones you want, deduct them from the county's revenue basket and then put them into the City's basket.
Obviously, the positive considerations are:
- Local control, which means empowerment and self-control;
- Additional representation;
- Efficiency and responsiveness;
- The opportunity for enhanced services (two examples would be more police and upgraded parks);
- Better code enforcement;
- More local control over planning and zning decisions.
*Higher taxes? You bet there will be higher taxes! The areas being considered for a City of Brookhaven, are primarily residential, with only a small portion of it, containing businesses. Without taxes for commercial interests, where will the money come from, for government/city buildings, squad cars and equipment, employee salaries, park enhancements and on and on and on? Can you say higher taxes?