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Brookhaven debate heats up as vote nears
by Bobby Tedder
btedder@neighbornewspapers.com
July 09, 2012 11:26 AM | 1403 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With the Brookhaven cityhood referendum mere weeks away, parties on both sides of the debate appear to be ramping up efforts to reach prospective voters.

Heading into the stretch, elected officials as well as pro and anti-Brookhaven incorporation grassroots organizations — all with vested interests in the outcome — are looking to have their respective messages resonate via dueling yard signs, community meetings, neighborhood canvassing and the like. Residents will take to the ballot box July 31 to decide the matter.

Until then, DeKalb County District 7 Commissioner Stan Watson is encouraging residents to air their grievances about county government at the negotiating table.

“I’ve heard some people are dissatisfied with county services — is it sanitation pick-up, public safety, roads?,” Watson asked. “I would hope that I could facilitate a meeting between commissioners and the CEO with residents to talk about things and fix whatever’s wrong in our system.”

District 1 Commissioner Elaine Boyer called for a plan for the incorporation, which she said would cost the county anywhere from $15 million to $28 million in losses.

“It is something that needs to be planned for,” said Boyer in an earlier statement. “When Dunwoody incorporated, that was the first time we knew something like that could happen and we didn’t pay attention. Well, we can’t do that twice — I just can’t let that go by again.”

The back and forth between proponents and detractors of Brookhaven as a city has picked up as of late, particularly on issues centering on the solvency of the would-be municipality, taxes and additional layers of government/bureaucracy.

Delivery of services has been a key sticking point with pro-cityhood parties, namely grassroots outfit BrookhavenYES.

According to a report issued by the group, the proposed city would have services delivered by a combination of a small number of city employees and by outsourcing service providers. Outsourcing will, in turn, encourage competition and innovative approaches to service delivery.

As is to be expected, the cases presented by both sides in addressing those issues contradict each other.

Case-in-point: according to a Carl Vinson Institute feasibility study, the proposed city expenditures for Brookhaven would be $25.1 million, with revenues expected to exceed that amount by around $135,000.

Carolyn Benton of the No City Brookhaven committee questioned the viability of that report.

“The actuals in regards to 2012 property tax revenue don’t match the projections,” she said. “From Day 1, we’re starting at the cap, 3.31 mills, so we have no room for error.” The county recently issued a statement indicating that, after crunching its numbers, Brookhaven would actually start out with a deficit of $360,000.

J. Max Davis of BrookhavenYES refutes those figures, asserting the new city would actually begin with a surplus of more than $1 million.

Do you support the incorporation of Brookhaven?


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