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Posted by on November 17, 2011.

Study says: City of Brookhaven can be done with no millage hike

Rep. Mike Jacobs, a Republican who lives in the Brookhaven area, distributed this map showing potential boundaries of a city of Brookhaven and possible city council election districts in the proposed city.

A study shows (click here to download the PDF) a city of Brookhaven could be created without raising homeowners’ property taxes.

The nonprofit organization Citizens for North DeKalb released on Nov. 7 the long-anticipated study it commissioned the Carl Vinson Institute at the University of Georgia to conduct on the feasibility of incorporating a city of Brookhaven.

About a week later, on Nov. 15, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners asked state lawmakers to stop the creation of new cities in DeKalb so officials can conduct a separate study on annexation and incorporation.

“This puts the Board of Commissioners on the record supporting a study of the implications of annexation and new incorporation in the county, which is an element that is noticeably missing in the current process of sort of unilateral incorporation,” DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader said.

The Vinson Institute study estimates that a city of Brookhaven would have annual revenues of approximately $28.5 million and expenditures of $25.1 million, leaving an approximate surplus of $3.4 million each year, if it collected property taxes at the same level as DeKalb County currently does.

Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Atlanta, who represents a portion of the study area and who has authored legislation to create the city, believes the results of the study mean a city of Brookhaven may even be able to cut taxes below the amount residents of the area currently pay.

“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,” Jacobs said in a email to constituents. “Furthermore, the city of Brookhaven is envisioned to provide a higher level of service than DeKalb County currently provides to our community.”

The study calculated the costs of a future city of Brookhaven by looking at Dunwoody and Johns Creek, two cities of similar size that were incorporated in recent years. Like those cities, a city of Brookhaven would probably outsource many of its city services to private contractors, members of the nonprofit group said.

The citizens group asked the Vinson Institute to use the city of Roswell as a model to study the costs of parks maintenance because of the north Fulton County city’s reputation for an excellent parks and recreation system.

Citizens for North DeKalb president Doug Dykhuizen said one of the main things residents in the Brookhaven area want to see is better maintenance for the area’s 250 acres of parkland. The study concluded that about $1.3 million would be spent on parks maintenance. DeKalb now spends about $480,000, the study said.

“Parks are a particularly valuable asset that not everybody has,” Dykhuizen said.

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Crunching the ‘city’ numbers

If a city of Brookhaven is approved in the area studied by the Carl Vinson Institute, it would take in about 12 square miles and would be the most populous city in DeKalb County. The institute says a city could operate using the same property tax millage rate DeKalb now collects in the area. Here are estimates of revenues and expenses for the proposed city as reported by the Vinson Institute.

 

Demographics

Population 49,188

White 52 percent

Black 11 percent

Hispanic 30 percent

Other 7 percent

Median income $56,231

Poverty percentage 12 percent

 

Estimated revenues

Occupation taxes $1,131,938

Beverage excise taxes 497,457

Personal property taxes 431,917

Hotel/motel taxes 317,964

Hotel/motel taxes (restricted to tourism) 211,794

Business licenses – police 216,469

Business licenses – beverages 159,346

Bank shares tax 65,155

Intangible 57,008

Development fund 522,500

Zoning and variance fees and permits 10,187

Insurance premiums 2,252,101

Fines and forfeitures 1,061,669

Storm water fund 1,455,897

Motor vehicle taxes 346,900

Law enforcement – confiscated monies fund 241,034

Parking and rental 28,302

Sale of printed material 27,348

Homestead Option Sales Taxes 5,007,194

State grant- community development block grant 294,636

Miscellaneous 13,743

Franchise fees – cable 503,090

Franchise fees – electric 2,406,721

Franchise fees – natural gas 248,483

Franchise fees – phone 149,040

2010 real property taxes (3.5 mills) 5,229,963

Penalties at 2010 level 22,761

2011 real property taxes (6.39 mills) 9,927,881

Penalties at 2011 level 43,207

 

Total revenue estimate

At 2010 tax level (3.5 mills) 23,810,619

At 2011 tax level (6.39 mills) 28,528,983

 

Estimated expenditures

City Council $215,093

City manager 408,260

General operations 2,035,399

Finance 1,804,216

Legal department 280,372

City Clerk 151,991

Human resources 137,726

Community development 2,701,897

Debt interest from TAN 101,327

Facility leases 592,592

Facility maintenance 34,923

Municipal court 295,620

Parks 1,376,492

Police 5,568,082

Public works 3,610,978

Storm water 1,455,897

Tourism 211,796

Contingency 328,576

Total operating costs 1,311,237

Annual capital for roads, drainage and parks 2,940,323

Police capital and general startup 831,682

Total annual expenditures 25,083,242

Deficit based on 2010 property tax estimates – 1,272,623

Surplus based on 2011 property tax estimates +3,445,741

 

Source: Revenue and Expenditure Estimates for a Proposed City of Brookhaven, Carl Vinson Institute of Government

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