Davis: 'We're Not Raising Taxes or Cutting Services in Brookhaven'
A full-blown budget controversy has erupted in the new city less than three months into its existence.
Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis is vigorously refuting a city councilman's assertion that the new city will soon face either a tax increase or cutback in services because of a budget shortfall.
"It's almost like a piece of propagnda from the NoCity campaign," Davis said, referring to a Monday email from District 2 city councilman Jim Eyre. "He's making unknown assumptions that are being treated as fact.
"We're not going to be raising taxes or cutting services in Brookhaven."
Eyre's email said that Davis' proposed budget will result in a revenue shortfall for 2013.
"The dilemma we have is that the city's revenue for 2013 is substantially lower than it will be in later years as the timing of the city start up as detailed in our City Charter does not allow us to collect $7 million to $9 million in taxes and fees until 2014," Eyre said.
"Therefore, we are facing a one year budget shortfall that can only be made up [through] a property tax increase as noted above or cuts in services to be provided by the city during our first year of operations," he said.
"As I see it, we have two options," Eyre continued. "Accept a tax increase for 2013 with expectations that this increase will be reduced for homeowners in 2014 when all revenues are available to the city of Brookhaven, or further reduce our service levels to better match available revenue with little or no tax increase for homeowners."
However, Davis said Eyre's assumptions are based on what DeKalb County decides to do with the HOST millage.
"We won't know DeKalb's HOST millage rate until this summer," Davis said. "There are several facts that aren't in his email, and until we know what DeKalb will do with the HOST rate, we won't have any idea what our city's millage rate will be."
Davis said that last July, DeKalb County used a 2011 surplus in police services to provide a one-time tax decrease for unincorporated residents, mostly as a tool to persuade residents to vote against cityhood.
"That brings up the question: if you use up your surplus last year, how are you going to handle the budget this year?" Davis said. "He's comparing apples to oranges, and it's unfortunate and somewhat irresponsible that he's done this."
The Brookhaven City Council is holding a public hearing on Tuesday night, Feb. 26, at 7 pm in Lupton Hall at Oglethorpe University.
"Our millage rate that has been approved in the city charter has not gone up, and we still believe we can provide better services than DeKalb and keep our tax rates low," Davis said.