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No City Brookhaven may rock vote
by Bobby Tedder
June 11, 2012 11:30 AM | 3838 views | 4 4 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal<br>
From left, Chuck Konas, Carolyn Benton and Mary Ellen Imlay are members of the No City Brookhaven group.
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A fledgling group of residents who oppose the idea of Brookhaven cityhood is mobilizing ahead of next month’s referendum.

The No City Brookhaven committee is in the midst of a door-to-door style campaign designed to educate prospective voters.

“We’re trying to get the facts out, get the word out … otherwise, this thing will just float on through without anybody knowing what’s going on,” said co-founder Chuck Konas.

The bipartisan grassroots outfit — barely a month old — boasts membership hailing from different neighborhoods in the area. A website, yard signs and bumper stickers have been employed as conduits for communication.

The committee’s case against incorporation largely centers on taxes, the solvency of the proposed city and the prospects of adding another “layer” of government.

“We don’t have a legislative office to work from, but we have found a lot of support,” said co-founder Mary Ellen Imlay. “When you don’t have a kind of bully pulpit you have to make your own way.”

No City members assert that most residents would see a tax increase after municipalization. In addition to bumps on power and telephone bills, any property tax savings would be offset by new franchise taxes.

District State Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Atlanta, acknowledged that while not all franchise fees are passed directly to utility customers who live in the city charging the fees, some are.

Cityhood will reduce residents overall property tax burden as compared to what is paid in unincorporated DeKalb County, Jacobs stated on his website.

Committee volunteer Carolyn Benton questioned the feasibility study conducted by the Carl Vinson Institute and touted by proponents of an incorporated Brookhaven budget that calculated a surplus of $135,000 in its first year.

“The actuals in regards to 2012 property tax revenue don’t match the projections,” Benton said. “From Day 1 we’re starting at the cap, 3.31 mils, so we have no room for error.”

Benton and company scoff at any comparison between their proposed city and recently incorporated neighbor Dunwoody.

Brookhaven’s ratio of commercial to residential property is currently 27 to 73 percent whereas Dunwoody’s is 40 to 60.

“[Moreover] we’re walled in by Sandy Springs, Chamblee and Dunwoody, so we have very little room to expand or increase density to sustain us and pay for services,” Benton said.

Another point on No City’s list of grievances is the specter of a new wave of elected officials, bureaucrats and municipal operations.

“Of course, the county can always be better, but more government doesn’t solve anything,” Konas said.

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