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Brookhaven town hall draws crowd
by LaTria Garnigan
lgarnigan@neighbornewspapers.com
June 29, 2012 12:54 PM | 1290 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
During the June 28 Brookhaven town hall meeting, sponsored by Brookhaven Yes, Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker said cityhood is a desire to have more local control.

“In regards to public safety – we’ve been able to deliver public safety services unparalleled to what we got with Fulton County,” Bodker said. “Today our vehicles arrive at a call about six minutes faster than under Fulton County for the same amount of money that we were paying to the county.”

Bodker added this process reminded him of the days before Johns Creek was incorporated, in that Fulton County was their chief opponent.

Although Chamblee has been around for a little more than a century, Mayor Eric Clarkson said as a municipality, “you have a real opportunity to reach out and touch elected officials.”

“When I moved to Chamblee 15 years ago, I experienced services unlike any that I had before,” Clarkson said. “You have a sense of community.”

From a police standpoint, Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan shared his experience.

“The police department has been able to provide exceptional personal service to the citizens of Dunwoody,” Grogan said. “We send our police out to every call. We have a small area so all of our officers stay within our boundaries and get to know Dunwoody.”

Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos, who led a 29-year push to incorporate the city said their main issue was they wanted local control of land use in Sandy Springs.

Since incorporation, Sandy Springs has built 11 miles of sidewalks and increased the police force from 40 (which were provided through the county) to 125 now for the city.

Galambos talked about the city’s public/private partnerships and mentioned everything in Sandy Springs but police and fire is provided by private companies, which is the same as Dunwoody and Johns Creek.

During the question and answer portion of the evening, several points were raised on the issues of double taxes to both county and city, a reported deficit, and whether or not a city of Brookhaven would add another layer of government.

Chris Pike, Dunwoody’s finance director, talked about the double taxes issue and said that residents would write one check to the county and the county would then take the city’s portion and distribute that amount to the city.

According to Jay Max Davis, with Brookhaven Yes, there recently was a statement from DeKalb County about Brookhaven having a $360,000 deficit at the start.

“That is false,” Davis said. “They took just the information from the property tax digest. When you have a city it’s not just property taxes, but you have business licenses and building permits and the county only focused on property taxes.”

Davis added Brookhaven would actually start off with a $1.1 million surplus, with plenty of revenue for a city to operate.

Chamblee Mayor Eric Clarkson answered the question on whether or not Brookhaven would be a duplicate government.

“A city is not another layer of government,” Clarkson said. “Basically, if you form a city those services you get from the county will continue but some of the others will be provided by the city.”

Citizens will vote July 31 on whether or not to incorporate Brookhaven.
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