Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst announced at the Dec. 11 City Council meeting he was asking city administrators to find property tax relief for senior citizens and residents with disabilities after passage of the city’s $40 million parks bond in November.

Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst.

The parks bond to be paid off over 30 years will raise the city’s 2.74 millage rate by half a mill, or an average of $98.34 a year to the homeowner with a home assessed at about $466,000, according to city officials. The millage rate is used to determine local taxes and is the amount taxpayers pay per $1,000 of assessed value.

City officials have said the property tax increase is expected to be offset by other tax changes, including the recent implementation of the equalized homestead option sales tax and when a DeKalb County parks bond rolls off property tax bills in 2021.

But Ernst said as part of the city’s affordable housing efforts, he wants City Manager Christian Sigman to bring proposals on finding tax relief by millage rate reduction and an increase in homestead exceptions to eliminate net property tax impact of the parks bond. The city recently adopted a new zoning code that includes affordable housing mandates for new multi-unit developments.

Ernst also asked Sigman to create a mechanism to automatically increase the homestead exemption when the city’s tax digest grows in a way that does not hurt the city’s operating budget.

“Affordable housing solutions are not just made through zoning, but also through economic and taxing policies,” Ernst said. “I’m looking forward to solutions being brought forward.”

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