One of the main reasons we became a city was to improve our badly neglected parks. The city of Brookhaven is proposing a $40 million bond to help fulfill our dream of superior city parks.
This Nov. 6, we have a choice: Do we want better parks or do we leave them as is? If we want to improve our parks, we need bond funding.
Since it became a city, Brookhaven funded $10 million in park improvements using HOST sales tax dollars — but as of April 2018, state law requires that HOST can only be used for property tax relief. This change in law ended the main capital funding for our parks.
The new penny sales tax, SPLOST, passed last year, is restricted to paving, public safety and some maintenance —not capital improvements — to our parks. Therefore, to achieve the parks we planned together over the last two years, we need bond funding.
What we get for the $40 million bond are park improvements that hundreds of citizens helped design.
We can transform our parks with new playgrounds, splash pads, trails, community centers, pools and other amenities that all ages can enjoy within the next five years. If we don’t pass the bond, we will wait 20 to 30 years to fund them.
The citizen’s committee, “Yes for Brookhaven Parks,” is supporting the bond for these reasons:
- Significant improvements to every park, while still reducing your overall property tax bill. The cost of the bond, an average of $98 a year per homeowner, will be more than offset by the removal of the DeKalb parks bond and the recent homeowner tax credit, which combined provides for an average reduction of more than $500 on property tax bills!
- Multiple safeguards are in place to ensure our money is spent wisely. The authoring legislation says bond money can only be used for park master plans and debt reduction. An independent program manager is required to oversee the projects, a community oversight board must be appointed, and regular audits by an independent audit firm will be conducted. The city’s policies require competitive bidding to ensure the best prices, and the city’s AAA bond rating guarantees the lowest interest rates possible.
- Believable costs: Two outside firms have verified the estimated costs. Unlike earlier ballpark estimates, the probable costs listed are based on actual land surveys and real designs. They also include a 25 percent contingency and will not be finalized until after competitive bidding.
- Overwhelming support for the bond by many community groups, such as the Peachtree Creek Greenway Alliance, Murphey Candler Park Conservancy, Murphey Candler baseball and softball leagues, Brookhaven Football Club, and the Brookhaven Bike Alliance.
We urge you to “Vote Yes for Brookhaven Parks Bond” for greater investment in our city, for better-equipped and safer parks, for increased home values, for lower taxes, and to fulfill the promise made when we became a city.
For more information and to see a list of projects, go to YesBrookhavenParks.com. For a sign or for questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rebecca Chase Williams co-chairs the Yes for Brookhaven Parks citizen committee and is a former mayor of Brookhaven.