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Mike Jacobs Legislative Update: Cityhood Public Hearing This Tuesday

An update on Brookhaven's move toward cityhood, and using Dunwoody as a template for that

 

The House Governmental Affairs Committee will hear public comment on House Bill 636, the proposed Brookhaven city charter, this Tuesday, January 31, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Room 341 of the State Capitol. 

BrookhavenYES, the citizens’ advocacy group supporting the proposal, is organizing a bus and carpools for supporters to attend the meeting. Click here for more information and to RSVP. The bus and carpools will leave Brookhaven at 1:15 p.m. 

Also, click here to review the PowerPoint presentation that I made the House Governmental Affairs Committee this past week.  Please contact me if you have any questions about it. 

 Pages Needed for 2012 Legislative Session 

Each year, I host ten school-age children from House District 80, ages 12 and older, to serve as pages for a day during the legislative session.  Pages get to see the legislative process first-hand, receive an excused absence from school, have their photograph taken with their legislator and the Speaker of the House, and are provided lunch.

 If your child would like to serve as a legislative page, please e-mail me at repjacobs@comcast.net and include in your message your street address and a telephone number where you can be reached.The ten spaces will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis and are only available to residents of House District 80. 

Please click here to view a map to determine whether you live in House District 80. 

Just the Facts on Cityhood, Part 1  

The owner of the Old Five Points shopping center (a.k.a. "Gary Mesh Corners") at the intersection of Ashford Dunwoody and Johnson Ferry Roads is posting flyers on front doors across our community containing some personal attacks and a great deal of misinformation about the Brookhaven cityhood issue. 

I will not respond to the attacks, but feel it’s important to correct the misinformation. This is part of a series of responses to do just that. For example, one flyer makes this statement: 

“Why did the [Carl Vinson Institute] study ignore the impact on DeKalb County, and thus our taxes, of the ‘new city’ taking PDK airport? DeKalb County Police must pay a $2 million fine to the FAA. We, the taxpayers, would lose $2 Million right off the bat! Plus the fuel tax would be taken from DeKalb County!” 

This statement is false.  PDK airport is no longer within the boundaries of the proposed city (click here to see the map).  However, even when PDK was within the boundaries, there was no $2 million fine that DeKalb County would have owed to the FAA.  The fact that this fine does not exist was confirmed with the airport director, Mike Van Wie.  In addition, no fuel taxes would have been diverted to the proposed city. 

Brookhaven Cut to DeKalb's Higher Property Taxes 

On the heels of DeKalb County’s 2011 property tax hike, the millage cap for the proposed City of Brookhaven will be set at 3.35 mills in the Brookhaven city charter as it moves forward in the 2012 session of the General Assembly. In addition, the homestead exemption for city property taxes will be increased from $10,000 to $20,000. 

Remember that cityhood does not add property taxes to your tax bill. Instead, it shifts two of the existing county line items to the city, enabling us to keep those resources here at home. If you vote in favor of cityhood at the ballot box this July, it also will slash the rate at which these taxes are charged, cap that rate, and double the applicable homestead exemption. 

The millage cap is a mechanism that prevents city property taxes from going higher than a certain rate without approval by the citizens in a public referendum. It is a benefit that does not exist in unincorporated DeKalb County. 

What does this mean for you? 

It guarantees virtually all homeowners a property tax cut, even if the city council sets the millage rate at the full 3.35 mills. 

However, the need for the Brookhaven city council to use the full 3.35 mills is doubtful. Property taxes are likely to be lower than 3.35 mills. In its feasibility study for the proposed city, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia (CVI) estimated that expenditures would be $25.1 million. The City of Dunwoody, a similarly situated city in terms of population and geography, anticipates 2012 expenditures of $20.9 million. The new millage cap will reduce the CVI estimated surplus for Brookhaven from $3.4 million to approximately $261,348. Based upon Dunwoody’s actual expenditures, this estimated surplus is in excess of an already generous expenditure estimate. 

The $261,348 surplus is on par with the CVI estimated surplus for Dunwoody when it became a city.  In the Dunwoody feasibility study published in 2006, CVI projected a surplus of $278,789.  In 2009, Dunwoody’s first year of operations, its actual expenditures were roughly $1.75 million less than that.  This shows that CVI’s estimates are indeed conservative. 

With a $20,000 homestead exemption, the City of Brookhaven would need to charge 3.22 mills to generate revenues equal to its estimated expenditures of $25.1 million.  If expenditures are like those of Dunwoody, $20.9 million, then the necessary millage rate drops to 1.16 mills. 

Here is a quantification of the real tax dollars associated with the property tax cut that the City of Brookhaven could provide: 

A homeowner with a $100,000 assessed property value currently pays DeKalb County $273 for municipal services. That homeowner would pay $93 if Brookhaven’s expenditures equal Dunwoody’s $20.9 million, $258 if Brookhaven’s expenditures equal the CVI estimate of $25.1 million, and $268 if Brookhaven must use the full 3.35 millage cap. 

A homeowner with a $200,000 assessed value currently pays DeKalb $610.  That homeowner would pay $209 if Brookhaven’s expenditures equal Dunwoody, $580 if Brookhaven’s expenditures equal the CVI estimate, and $603 if Brookhaven must use the full millage cap. 

A homeowner with a $300,000 assessed value currently pays DeKalb $946.  That homeowner would pay $325 if Brookhaven’s expenditures equal Dunwoody, $902 if Brookhaven’s expenditures equal the CVI estimate, and $938 if Brookhaven must use the full millage cap. 

A homeowner with a $400,000 assessed value currently pays DeKalb $1,283.  That homeowner would pay $441 if Brookhaven’s expenditures equal Dunwoody, $1,224 if Brookhaven’s expenditures equal the CVI estimate, and $1,273 if Brookhaven must use the full millage cap.

The 3.35 mill cap would lower Brookhaven’s property taxes to a rate less than the 3.5 mills that existed before DeKalb County increased this rate in 2011 to 6.39 mills. 

I look forward to working with citizens to bring Brookhaven a more responsive local government that guarantees lower property taxes and lives within its means.

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