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Archive for July, 2011

Nancy4TheHouse ???

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Isn’t it time that our elected officials actually listen to the voters?

Georgia legislators heard residents at a public hearing held at Georgia Tech on June 30, preparing for the upcoming special session of the Georgia General Assembly. This session will be held to redraw the state’s legislative and congressional districts, to better reflect changes in Georgia’s population.

Many of the speakers expressed hope that “communities of interest” – areas which share common beliefs and lifestyles – would be kept in tact during the process. Sen. Fran Millar, a Republican from Dunwoody, said he would like to see the 6th Congressional District redrawn so that it takes in more of DeKalb, including areas now to its south such as Brookhaven and the Smoke Rise community (in Stone Mountain? – that’s not really to the “south” of Dunwoody, Mr. Miller). Dunwoody, is part of the 6th District, and is represented by Republican Rep. Tom Price of Roswell. Brookhaven, Ashford Park and Drew Valley are represented by Rep. Henry Johnson, a Democrat from Lithonia, in the 4th District.

The meeting was the last of 12 public hearings held around the state. On Aug. 15, The state legislature will hold a special session to redraw legislative and Congressional lines, based on the 2010 Census.

I’ve been saying for years, that I wanted to run against Rep. Johnson. Or, rather that someone, anyone, should run against him. If the citizens of Ashford Park, Drew Valley, Murphey Candler and Brookhaven don’t get better representation from Hank, maybe 2012 will be “the” year that I actually do run. Nancy for The House, or Nancy4TheHouse.com — I kind of like the sound of it!

The City of Brookhaven?

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Recently, I’ve blogged about this summer’s town hall meetings, trying to drum up interest in creating a new City of Brookhaven. What is driving me crazy, are the new “facts” that are coming out about this new city.

Apparently, the organizers need approximately $30,000 for the Vinson Institute’s study and are trying to raise $50,000 (no, I’m not sure why they need an additional $20K). What was presented in the first town hall meeting I attended, was that the Georgia legislature was paying for this study. But now, as I understand it, the organizers are asking citizens to donate money towards the study.

Does anyone think the idea of a City of Brookhaven will fly, when they don’t even have the money for a study? I don’t get it; am I the only who doesn’t?

The Creation of the City of Brookhaven

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Two weeks ago, on June 29, there was another town hall meeting, regarding the creation of the new city of Brookhaven, GA. This meeting seemed to be conducted by people who did not seem to be in favor of it. Rep. Mike Jacobs did not talk at the second meeting, although State Rep. Elena Parent and several organizers from Dunwoody and Sandy Springs spoke.

The areas being considered for a City of Brookhaven are currently in unicorporated Dekalb. These property owners pay their taxes to the county, in exchange for certain services. The organizers for a push to city-dom, it seems to me, are pushing an agenda of what is in it for them, rather than what is in it for the taxpayers.

To incorporate into a city, the city must provide a minimum of three services. These services cannot be overlapped (ie; one can’t have two police departments).  At the town hall meeting, Jim Grubiak, of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia said, ‘is the perception the same as the reality?’. Grubiak said that what leads citizens to create a new city is:

  1. Communication (or lack of communication);
  2. Planning and Land Use;
  3. Resource allocation;
  4. Representation: are officials listening?

Are county officials listening to North Dekalb residents/taxpayers? Does the creation of a City of Brookhaven warrant the extra money and bonds that must be raised to substantiate  a new city?

What will the new city of Brookhaven bring to its residents? Some negative considerations to consider are:

  1. The probability of higher taxes *;
  2. Needed government buildings;
  3. Employees, equipment (this could be as small as copiers and as large as police cars).

Dekalb County’s police has Swat & Riot Units, a Detectives Unit, a Gang Unit, Narcotics unit, Vice Unit, two police helicopters: would these services go away with the creation of a Brookhaven police force?

Obviously, the positive considerations are:

  1. Local control, which would mean empowerment and self-control;
  2. Additional representation;
  3. Efficiency and responsiveness;
  4. The opportunity for enhanced services (two examples would be more police and upgraded parks);
  5. Better code enforcement;
  6. More local control over planning and zning decisions.

*Higher taxes? You bet there will be higher taxes! The areas being considered for a City of Brookhaven, are primarily residential, with a small portion of it, commercial businesses. Without taxes for commercial interests, where will the money come from, for government/city buildings, squad cars and equipment, employee salaries, park enhancements and on and on? Can you say higher taxes?

 

A New City of Brookhaven

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Recently, there have been two town hall meetings to discuss creating a new city in North Georgia. This new city would be the City of Brookhaven.

The first meeting was held on May 24 to introduce the concept of this new city to the area’s homeowners.  GA Representative Mike Jacobs has introduced House Bill 636 to pay for a study by The Vinson Institute of the University of Georgia.

Between now and late October, the Vinson Institute will study:

  1. The cost aspects of a City of Brookhaven;
  2. The range of services that would be provided by the City of Brookhaven;
  3. What would be the capital expenditures for the new city’s assets (parks, town hall, etc);
  4. What would be the potential sources of revenue from the new city (wine, liquor, beer; property taxes);
  5. What would be the potential revenue sources from franchises serving the City of Brookhaven (cable, gas, telephone);
  6. What would the facility and salary costs be for a new city.

The portion of the meeting that I didn’t understand, were the areas to which the study will apply. The areas being considered are: Historic Brookhaven, Murphy Candler, Brittany, Linwood Park, Silver Lake, Brookhaven Heights, Lenox Park and Brookhaven Fields. Another broader section of the study will include Ashford Park and Drew Valley. The latter two, in my opinion, are closer to being a part of a City of Brookhaven, than Murphy Candler, Silver Lake and Brittany. But then, Rep. Jacobs, one of the key proponents, lives in the Murphy Candler area.

One of the points that the organizers made, was that taxes would probably (???) not go up. The residents of Brookhaven would pay less to the county and the balance of the taxes would be made to the new city. In other words, if the City of Brookhaven opts to create its own police and fire departments, tax payers would pay that portion of taxes to the city and deduct it from their county-paid taxes. It is like a basket of services: pick which ones you want, deduct them from the county’s revenue basket and then put them into the City’s basket.

The town-hall leaders asked the city organizers of the newly-created cities of Dunwoody and Sandy Springs  to speak at the May meeting. One of them said that there has not been a tax increase in the 3 years that they have operated the city of Dunwoody and that Dunwoody is operating with a surplus of revenue. It was also said that Dekalb County’s property tax millage rate of 2.5 mils will go up to replenish the county’s reserves, perhaps as high as 4 mils. Dekalb CEO Burrell Ellis recently said that taxes must go up to pay for the county’s services (A “mil” is equal to $1.00 for every $1,000. of the assessed value; in Georgia, the assessment is set at 40% of the market value).

Like many of the town hall attendees, I am not sold on cityhood. I will have to hear what the benefits of a City of Brookhaven would be. Is it just more money out of our pockets?